Re: Goo prophylaxis

Carl Feynman (
Wed, 27 Aug 1997 11:16:15 -0400

At 03:07 PM 8/27/97 +0200, Anders Sandberg wrote:
>"Nicholas Bostrom" <> writes:
>> > And is the energy state of diamondoid material higher than that of
>> > organic material? Probably, in which case this gray goo plague needs
>> > constant input or can only grow by processing lots of material -- which
>> > means that it grows very slowly.
>Could we get some numbers here? What is the average enthalpy of
>organic stuff compared to diamond?

I don't have the numbers handy, but I know the relative magnitudes. These
bonds have about the same energy:

C-C single bonds
C-H single bonds
O-O double bonds
N-C single bonds

These are much lower in energy:

O-H single bonds
C-O double bonds
N-N triple bonds

Organic stuff is mostly carbon, bonded to other carbons, and to hydrogens.
Diamond is carbon bonded to carbon. The carbon atoms in the two cases have
the same energy, but the hydrogen that you throw away in going to diamond
can be reacted with air to release water and enormous amounts of energy.
You also get energy by releasing the fixed nitrogen in the living thing,
unless the goo needs nitrogen too.

Chemically speaking, this is the process that forms charcoal by burning wood
with insuffcient air. A diamondoid goo attacking a forest would probably
look like a wildfire that left living charcoal in its wake.