The Sci-Fi trilogy Gaia's Wasp is a romance, but not a squishy one. It's full of numbers that could have been pulled out of my ass, because I didn't show my calculations. I didn't show my calculations because math in a romance would be stupid.
Here is the math.
Okay you have to be wondering why I am showing you math. The answer is: Because facts change everything.
Here we go. Much of Gaia's Wasp takes place in a primitive spaceship called the Unexpected Finger.
Drat, spoilers already. But never fear, my spoilers leave out the sexy parts.
Let's start simple. The Finger was a spaceship that weighed four thousand metric tons. That's the same mass as a modern coast-guard cutter, and twice the launch weight of the Space Shuttle. It's also the weight of a boxcar full of gold, according to some guy in the book who didn't show his math because romance.
So was it true? Is a Finger-mass gold nugget the same size as boxcar?
Wow, that's boring. Here is something interesting. This is a picture from Dandelion Slap (Gaia's Wasp Part 2.)
Here's the math: Gold is almost twice as dense as lead, weighing in at an impressive 1.9 ×104 kg/m3. So a 4000-ton nugget would occupy a volume of (4×106kg) / (1.9×104kg/m3) = 200 m3.
Is that comparable to a boxcar? Yes. At 200 cubic meters, the volume of a F.E.N. (the Finger-Equivalent Nugget) is near the midpoint of common boxcars. A 50-ft short car holds 150m3, while an 86-ft auto car holds 283m3.
There it was, the first math. It was boring, but kinetic energy is coming up soon.
Back to the subject: One boxcar, even a boxcar full of gold, is not that impressive. If the Finger rammed the Earth, maybe it would just burn up in the atmosphere.
Did I say the Finger rammed the Earth? I didn't mean to say that. And besides, it probably wouldn't hurt us, because our atmosphere is equivalent to four feet of stainless steel.