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Congressional Candidate Brianna Wu Claims Moon-Colonizing Companies Could Destroy Cities By Dropping Rocks (washingtontimes.com) 642

Applehu Akbar quotes a report from Washington Times: A transgender-issues activist and Democratic candidate for Congress says the advent of the space tourism industry could give private corporations a "frightening amount of power" to destroy the Earth with rocks because of the Moon's military importance. Brianna Wu, a prominent "social justice warrior" in the "Gamergate" controversy who now is running for the House seat in Massachusetts' 8th District, suggested in a since-deleted tweet that companies could drop rocks from the Moon. "The moon is probably the most tactically valuable military ground for earth," the tweet said. "Rocks dropped from there have power of 100s of nuclear bombs." After users on social media questioned her scientific literacy, the congressional candidate clarified that the tweet was "talking about dropping [rocks] into our gravity well." Small space rocks can indeed do nuclear-weapons-scale damage if hitting the Earth at orbital speeds. But launching one from the moon, even setting aside issues of aiming, would still require escaping the satellite's gravitational field, a task that requires the power and thrust contained in a huge rocket.
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Congressional Candidate Brianna Wu Claims Moon-Colonizing Companies Could Destroy Cities By Dropping Rocks

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @05:05AM (#53951987)

    Original submission: Brianna Wu Is a Harsh Mistress.

    You stripped this brilliant title and wrote in your blurb that spans two lines!

    • Exactly, and if you saw that, you also saw my post regarding real and imaginary threats...

      Back on topic, the lunar lander didn't have,massive rockets, or a lot of fuel, so it's not as outlandish an idea as some people who claim to be experts in physics are claiming it is...

      • by r1348 ( 2567295 )

        The lunar lander rockets would only be able to lift a mass that would burn up in our atmosphere. If you want to do some real damage, you need to go big.

        • They might build the Götterdämmerung muss fliegen!!!

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwsPLciYPyU
      • I think that we are supposed to treat it as outlandish because Brianna Wu; not because of some sort of engineering assessment(yes, getting a decent rock off the moon would be a pain; but it's gravity well isn't that deep, and you don't have an atmosphere to worry about).

        If Heinlein were running, we'd be expected to talk about the idea.
    • Original submission: Brianna Wu Is a Harsh Mistress.

      You stripped this brilliant title and wrote in your blurb that spans two lines!

      This is exactly what happened, but give him credit for not warping the blurb into a plug for renewable energy.

    • Better headline: (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @06:49AM (#53952327)

      "Brianna Wu references Heinlein, Dumb Puppies Don't Know Which Side To Take"

    • where are my mod points? well done.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @05:07AM (#53951993)

    a.k.a. The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress from Robert A. Heinlein

  • Wut (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @05:08AM (#53951995)

    Dropping rocks from the Moon? "Dropping" them?
    And who the fuck would waste so much money and energy trying to fling shit from the Moon when it's cheaper to use nukes from Earth itself and harder to intercept due to shorter distance?

    I still can't believe Wu's parents wasted 500k on this idiot's education. That much money should at least have produced some basic education in physics, and some common sense, even in the stupidest person on this planet.

  • by Ly4 ( 2353328 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @05:11AM (#53952005)

    The head of the House Science Committee spends all of his time denying and attacking science. She'll fit right in:

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad... [slate.com]

    • Who would vote in an egg head into congress? Those are not people you would want to share a beer with. Only people who you want to share a beer with is someone who we want leading our country.

      • by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @06:48AM (#53952315) Homepage Journal

        Who would vote in an egg head into congress?

        Apparently millions of Americans.
        If you look hard, you might find a congressman or two that borders on sanity, but that's not representative (no pun intended). Congress is and always has been a collection of kooks who love to listen to themselves speak. This has not changed since the day of Plato.
        And the American public who votes them in has never been an informed electorate.

  • by Ihlosi ( 895663 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @05:15AM (#53952029)
    Companies are already destroying Earth. And this is good, because it's profitable.

    Any genetics company could unleash killer microbes on Earth.

    Agricultural companies could cause mass starvation if they wanted to.

    Any company running nuclear power plants could contaminate large areas.

    Any company manufacturing or using explosives could build bombs.

    What's the problem with dropping a few rocks?

  • Eh? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Adam C ( 4306581 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @05:16AM (#53952031)
    The lunar module got off the moon with not much thrust at all, look at the size of it compared to the whacking great rocket that got them there...

    Doesn't take all that much to escape the moon actually, you don't need a rocket the size of one required to get off earth...

    Aiming, fair enough though.
    • Re:Eh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NoNonAlphaCharsHere ( 2201864 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @05:27AM (#53952081)
      You (and this Brianna Wu person) have caused me to waste a fair amount of delta-vee smacking my forehead.
    • Re:Eh? (Score:4, Informative)

      by r1348 ( 2567295 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @05:39AM (#53952117)

      The lunar module would also burn up in our atmosphere very quickly.

    • Re:Eh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GuB-42 ( 2483988 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @06:45AM (#53952307)

      You won't do much damage by throwing lunar modules at the earth.
      If you are just flinging rocks, anything less than the Chelyabinsk meteor wouldn't be worth is, and that thing weights about 10000 tons. By comparison the LEM weights 2 tons dry and 15 tons total, with 8 tons fuel.
      Scale it up, to launch an equivalent of the Chelyabinsk meteor, you need about 80000 tons of stuff, 40000 of it being fuel. This is a bit of an expensive way to break a few windows.

      Specially designed projectiles (rods from god) could be significantly more threatening but consider they have to be built on site from local resources for this to make sense, otherwise just to skip the moon part and throw it from earth to earth, following a suborbital trajectory. Again, a far-fetched scenario.

      • By comparison the LEM weights 2 tons dry and 15 tons total, with 8 tons fuel.

        Uh, but that's to land and then take off again. The LM Ascent Stage is what you need to compare to:
        Dry mass: 2,150 kg
        Propellant mass: 2,353 kg

        --but, as noted above many times, nobody's suggesting a rocket to do this. Heinlein proposed this decades ago. You'd use a mass driver.

  • Would someone please inform Ms. Wu that while there may be many people who are interested in what she has to say, that does not give her license to go speculating far outside her field of speciality (which I'm fairly certain consists solely of electronic entertainments). ...Actually on second thought, that's probably exactly why she'd fit right in with Congress. Get her on the House Science committee with Lamar Smith; I'm sure they'd get along famously.
  • by TimothyHollins ( 4720957 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @05:17AM (#53952039)

    There you have it, people! Corporations are just waiting to throw rocks at you from the moon!

    Can someone please give this woman an award for being so stunning and brave?

    • Hmm... IgNobel Prize for Physics?

    • by mysidia ( 191772 )

      And so original...... Seriously... if It were a risk.... At least she thought of that one first!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Can we please mod submission "troll"? This has to be one of the worst Slashdot stories ever. It's got "social justice warrior" in the damn summary. The original submission is tagged "literallywho", a classic GG troll.

      Slashdot got trolled. I was too busy to mod it down in the firehose, but I shouldn't have to. BeauHD should have binned this one, not posted it to the front page. It's click-bait shit for the alt-right.

  • Ok that Brianna person is a fool, no doubt but then what about moronocy of the submitter who said "Small space rocks can indeed do nuclear-weapons-scale damage if hitting the Earth at orbital speeds." ??? Wtf

    Small rocks hit the earth all the time at orbital speeds and they burn up in the atmosphere. Even if it didn't burn up in the atmosphere, a small rock at "orbital speed won't do much damage. Even without an atmosphere (which we have btw, last time I checked it would need something measured in tens of fe

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @05:28AM (#53952085)

    It's better to keep your mouth shut and have people think you're an idiot than to open your mouth and remove any doubt that might remain.

    Maybe she should concentrate on social issues. Physics ain't her strong side.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @05:58AM (#53952189)

      Maybe she should concentrate on social issues. Physics ain't her strong side.

      Her track record with gamergate doesn't exactly make me want to trust her opinion on social issues either.

    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @06:06AM (#53952217)

      You're assuming a lot about her knowledge on social issues there.

      • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @06:32AM (#53952267)

        I know that she does care about social themes. I don't agree with them, but that doesn't make them invalid or wrong. I am also not expert on social issues that I could judge whether her claims are valid. I can only say that I see things differently, not more.

        Physics, on the other hand, ARE right or wrong. And there I can say with some credibility that this is bullshit without even having to worry that I might be wrong.

        • I'd actually love to hear some context for her comments. They're apparently outlandish, but is she really running on a political platform of Moon Rock Skepticism, or did she mention the idea during a general discussion of, say, science fiction (her husband is a science fiction writer, so this isn't as unlikely as it might sound.) If the context isn't ludicrous, I'd hope that she takes a lesson away from this, that when you start a campaign for office you need to understand you no longer have a personal lif

        • I'm sure she cares about the moon rocks too.

    • It should, perhaps, be noted that the definition of "threat" used by militaries and governments uses "capabilities" more than "intentions".

      IOW, if it's possible that it could be done, it's a military threat, even without any actual intentions of doing so.

      And a linear accelerator on the moon could certainly be built that is capable of bombarding Earth. Not likely to be done that way, but it's possible.

      Of course, it's also possible to build a linear accelerator on the moon that is NOT capable of bombardin

      • ***sighs*** someday, I'll remember to NOT use the LT symbol for anything other than tags.

        In the above, after the word "say" insert "Less Than 100kg per projectile)."

      • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @07:59AM (#53952581)

        Sorry, but no.

        Yes, it is technically possible to build such a device. But aside of the logistic nightmare, it's trivial to detect long before reaching operational status, it's trivial to destroy (compared to the time and effort necessary to build it), it is something that maybe five nations of this globe are capable of pulling off and none of them could afford to pretty much piss off the rest of the world for such a stunt.

        It's something straight out of a James Bond (or rather, Austin Power) villain play book. Yes, it's doable, but SO over the top that there are cheaper, easier, more accessible and way, way less noticeable ways to accomplish anything that could.

        In other words, sorry, but that's not even going to be acceptable as a "saving face" answer. It was a stupid thing to say, that's basically all there is to be said.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @05:37AM (#53952109)

    Here we go again.
    I am sure there are trans people out there who are actually well educated in astronomy, physics, and have common sense to not tweet shit they don't know anything about;
    and they are currently covering their faces with their hands and thinking "What the fuck did we do to deserve this idiot as our representation?"

    I know that the US Congress is filled with idiots, but that doesn't mean that the first trans person needs to be one as well and serve
    as a stain on the community's reputation.

    I am sure there are corporations out there somewhere itching to nuke their sources of income, in some parallel imaginary Universe that can only exist in books.

    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @06:48AM (#53952321)

      I know two transgender people, and neither of them feels that Wu represents them.

      Why should I feel represented by someone just because they happen to have something in common with me? Does a paraplegic need someone in a wheelchair just to feel "properly" represented? What I want is a representative that knows and understands my problems and that I believe to handle them sensibly.

      Assuming you're white, did you not feel represented by your President the past 8 years?

      • Assuming you're white, did you not feel represented by your President the past 8 years?

        I can't speak for the GP but as a Reagan baby, I've never felt represented by a president.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@@@world3...net> on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @08:26AM (#53952753) Homepage Journal

        She isn't claiming people should feel represented by her because she is a trans woman, but rather because of her opinions and her willingness to talk about trans issues that are distorted or ignored by others. She also has experiences that non-trans people don't, simply because they are not trans and did not transition or get transphobic abuse, or find their bathroom habits subject to law enforcement scrutiny etc, and she says those experiences give her a somewhat less common perspective that you may feel is worth bringing to the debate in Congress.

        Everyone has to judge how well she represents their views and interests for themselves, of course. But it's not about someone having something in common with you per se.

        • As far as I'm aware, she's never claimed to be trans and there's no evidence that she is, either. The top three links regarding it on Google are all conspiracy theorists and assholes, the fourth is her saying that she refuses to confirm or deny it because the question itself is transphobic.

          • And bluntly, I don't give a shit.

            I don't care what's between people's legs, at least 'til I want to take them to bed with me. And twice when it comes to a politician. What I care about is their political agenda and whether I can identify with it.

  • SJW is a dumbass (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Trogre ( 513942 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @05:55AM (#53952179) Homepage

    News at 11

  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @06:38AM (#53952289)

    Homeopathic WMDs! OMG!

    So, let me see if I have the summary right:

    1. Take a large rock in space
    2. Dilute that rock with space, yielding a large space rock tincture
    3. Repeat the process until you have a small space rock tincture
    4. Drop the small space rocks on Earth, from the height of the moon (works because the moon is "up" and the Earth is "down")
    5. Kaboom!
    6. ???
    7. Profit!

    My god! What if she thinks to use space dust, instead! The more you dilute a homeopathic tincture like that, the more effective it becomes! We're all doomed!

  • by Salgak1 ( 20136 ) <salgakNO@SPAMspeakeasy.net> on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @06:45AM (#53952305) Homepage

    . . . .running against an established Congressman (Stephen Lynch) who has been in Congress for 16 years [infogalactic.com], who has routinely been winning elections by 70%+ for years [ballotpedia.org].

    Wu's only real "in" here, is that Lynch is considered moderate. No idea on how that particular congressional district trends. . .

    • . . . .running against an established Congressman (Stephen Lynch) who has been in Congress for 16 years [infogalactic.com], who has routinely been winning elections by 70%+ for years [ballotpedia.org].

      Wu's only real "in" here, is that Lynch is considered moderate. No idea on how that particular congressional district trends. . .

      Given that she's trying to knock off a popular incumbent in the primary who's done nothing to hurt his chances for re-election over the years, this was a long shot under the best of circumstances. Her only possible means of attack is to argue that Lynch is not liberal enough, which seems like a low percentage move to me. Lynch once said that being "least liberal" member of the House from Massachusetts is a bit like being the slowest Kenyan in the marathon. You're still a lot more liberal/fast than most o

    • by dcollins117 ( 1267462 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @08:41AM (#53952827)

      Wu's only real "in" here, is that Lynch is considered moderate.

      Well, he's considered a moderate Democrat in Massachusetts, but as he once retorted "Calling me the least liberal member from Massachusetts is like calling me the slowest Kenyan in the Boston Marathon."

      Wu, on the other hand, is batshit crazy. Her prospects of unseating Representative Lynch are less likely than a moon-colonizing company destroying the city of Boston with projectile moon rocks.

  • by stealth_finger ( 1809752 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @06:55AM (#53952345)
    All you'll hit is the moon and not that hard.
  • A huge rocket? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RobinH ( 124750 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @07:03AM (#53952377) Homepage

    "But launching one from the moon, even setting aside issues of aiming, would still require escaping the satellite's gravitational field, a task that requires the power and thrust contained in a huge rocket."

    Now you're just trolling. The Apollo moon landers managed to take off from the moon with a very small rocket. Yes, you'd need a comparatively larger one to launch a large rock, but the summary is misleading. It certainly wouldn't be a huge rocket. Now, you'd want to launch it retrograde from the moon's orbit so it would be moving slower than the moon's orbit around the Earth. That would make it take on an elliptical orbit around the Earth that picked up speed as it approached the Earth. The moon is going about 3.68 km/s in orbit and the escape velocity is 2.38 km/s so you'd only be going 1.3 km/s relative to Earth. You'd have to kill enough velocity that it would actually hit the Earth, but you're already 2/3 of the way there by escaping the Moon's gravity so it's not a "huge rocket" at all. In comparison, the delta-v required to actually get to the moon is somewhere around 15 km/s. This is basically straight from the plot of "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress." If your goal was to hit Earth with a big rock, you'd probably find it easier to do an asteroid redirect mission and nudge a large near Earth asteroid onto an impact course. Getting to the moon in the first place is about 15 km/s delta-v but getting to a near-Earth asteroid is more like 13.5 km/s, and then you can use something like a small ion thruster or solar sail to nudge it around and hit the Earth 3 passes later.

  • ... when totally clueless people try to be smart?

  • Wu (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheGoodNamesWereGone ( 1844118 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @07:16AM (#53952435)
    Is not entirely hinged
  • A few numbers (Score:4, Informative)

    by geantvert ( 996616 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2017 @11:00AM (#53953779)

    The Moon Escape velocity is 2.38 km/s while on Earth it is 11.186 km/s.

    Since energy is proportional to the square of the speed (E=1/2*m*v^2) we can conclude that it is (11.186/ 2.38)^2 = 2 time easier to reach free space from the Moon than from Earth.

    However, even if a rock is launched from the Moon at 2.38 km/s, it still inherits the inertia of the Moon. Simply speaking, the rock would not fall to Earth. It would be in an orbit similar to the Moon orbit.

    The orbital speed of the Moon is about 1km/s so the rock must be given that additional acceleration to cancel its orbital speed.

    At that point, the rock is immobile (from the Earth point of view) and it will start falling toward Earth because of ... gravity.

    When it reaches Earth, its speed will be equal to the Earth Escape velocity (a bit less in fact since the rock did not start falling from an infinite distance) so 11.186 km/s.

    The kinetic energy is given by the formula 1/2 * m * V^2 so for 1kg the kinetic energy at 11km/s is 1/2 * 1 * 11000^2 = 60 * 10^6 Joules

    As a comparison, 1kg of TNT provides 4 * 10^6 Joules so each kg of moon rock would be equivalent to approximatively 15kg of TNT

    The Hiroshima bomb was 15 kilotons of TNT = 15 * 10^6 Kg so a similar effect would require a 1000 tons of Moon rock and the ability to accelerate that rock to a speed of 2.38+1 = 3.38 km/s.

     

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