Eugene Leitl wrote:
> Unfortunately, with nukes you can only sterilize comparatively tiny
> volumina, while globally distributing potential contaminants, the
> updraft pumping dust right into the stratosphere. Andromeda strain
> movie was bull, but at least they have gotten that much straight..
> I really don't see any other way of sterilizing Earth by dumping
> enough rocks upon it to melt the upper crust (giving plenty of
> opportunity for particles to reach escape velocity, a la tectites),
> or introduce a singularity within its volume which grows faster
> than it evaporates.
How to de-goo a planet in 4 easy steps:
Important caveat: I assume you are trying to remove microorganisms and/or gray goo, and that the target organisms are powered by chemical and/or solar energy. That means the bulk of the infection will be a shell a few hundred meters deep covering the surface of the planet, with smaller inclusions at greater depths and a drifting population of airborne contaminants.
Step 1 - Preparation
Muster your forces in space. You need to produce several tons of antimatter, a few million tons of something highly radioactive with a short half-life, several thousand heavy orbital weapon platforms armed with nukes and directed energy weapons, assorted heavy transport systems, and a landing force of several million nanotech infantry units.
A 'nanotech infantry unit' is build around a tank-sized robotic nanofabrication facility powered by a nuclear reactor. It acts as a base, control system and production facility for a fleet of insect-sized transports that carry loads of red goo (i.e. smart disassemblers with IFF capability). It is also capable of deploying smaller robots to collect raw materials, and it can replicate by producing its own parts and a crew of construction robots to assemble them.
Step 2 - Bombardment
First, release the antimatter (in solid form, as dust) into space around the planet. With a little planning you can get all of it to land over the course of a few hours, producing an intense flux of gamma rays that disables the vast majority of the defenders. You follow up by dropping the radioactive dust, which makes the planetary surface very hostile to nanomachines. Then move the weapon platforms into place, and start using burrowing nukes to dig out whatever deep concentrations of defenders are left - oilfields, volcanic vents, and similar buried energy sources will all need to be dug out via sustained bombardment.
Step 3 - Invasion
At this point there are bound to be some functional defenders left, but they are few and scattered. Drop your landing force in a small area, and it can mop up there and set up organized replication. The landing force grows and spreads across the planet, leaving behind a thin screen of defenders to hold the ground they've cleared. The high radiation level gives them a big edge in replication speed, and the orbital fire support prevents any large concentrations of goo from re-appearing in the areas they haven't reached yet. You should be able to clear the planet in a few weeks.
Step 4 - Maintenance
Since we can never be sure that we got everything, we need to establish a permanent 'police presence'. We spend the next few months setting up a global monitoring system, with its own nanofabricators and large mothballed reserve forces, so that any small quantity of goo that turns up in the future can be easily cleaned up.
We also need to terraform the planet to undo all the damage we've caused, but what the heck. It shouldn't take more than a few months to make it habitable again. :-)
Billy Brown, MCSE+I