2729: Planet Killer Comet Margarita

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Planet Killer Comet Margarita
I'll take mine on the rocks, no ice.
Title text: I'll take mine on the rocks, no ice.


A margarita is a popular cocktail made from tequila, agave, triple sec, and lime juice. The frozen margarita variety is blended with ice, and this comic suggests making an enormous drink using the ice from a comet nucleus – the one depicted having more than a passing similarity to the much-studied 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (but then if it is 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, could you at least remove Rosetta (spacecraft) and Philae (spacecraft), please?). Based on the amount of ice in a typical comet, it extrapolates the quantity of the other ingredients. The mixed drink is big enough to fill Lake Mead, a massive reservoir on the Colorado River created by the water held by the Hoover Dam.

Beyond the unusual quantities and mixing method, Randall uses the general term "orange liqueur" here rather than specifying triple sec. Assuming that each oil tanker holds the same amount of liquid, the tequila: triple sec ratio in the comic is 4:1, meaning more tequila is used than necessary (the ratio should be 5:2).

Armageddon is a movie starring Bruce Willis about a team of astronauts and oil drill engineers on a mission to blow up an asteroid that's on a collision course with the Earth. The oil drill would be used to drill a hole deep into the asteroid, into which they'll drop a nuclear bomb to destroy it. The comic suggests using the same technique to explode the comet nucleus to get the ice. It should be noted that consuming any cocktail which has been infused with the radioactive byproducts commonly resulting from the detonation of a thermonuclear weapon may pose health risks which exceed those typically associated with the consumption of alcoholic beverages in general.[actual citation needed]

In the title text, he asks for it "on the rocks", with no ice. In the context of normal cocktails, "on the rocks" means to serve with ice. Here the cocktail is served from the drained basin of Lake Mead, which has rock as a substrate - hence "on the rocks." In addition, the comet nucleus contains lots of rocky material, so "on the rocks" with Randall's planet killer cocktail would also be served with literal rocks in it.

In the header, it says "Today's comic was drawn for Daniel Becker, based on his winning question submitted to the What If? 2 contest." As explained in the What If? entry melting a comet on Earth has enough negative effects on the climate to negate the cooling effect a couple of thousand times over – thus this margarita may proudly wear the title "planet killer".

Assuming an average oil tanker size of 25.8 million gallons, this provides approximately 1,700 servings of tequila per adult on the planet. Therefore it is a planet killer in terms of alcohol poisoning and killing off all humans of adult drinking age.


The Planet Killer
Comet Ice Margarita
[On the top, there are tiny freight ships in forty 10x10 groups that are arranged into eight columns and five rows, for 4,000 ships in total. There is a circular zoom-in to a few ships showing them in more detail. Label above the depiction:]
4,000 oil tankers full of tequila
[Below, on the left side, more tiny freight ships in ten 10x10 groups that are arranged into two columns and five rows, for 1,000 ships in total. Label above the depiction:]
1,000 tankers full of orange liqueur
[Further below on the left, tiny freight ships again in ten 10x10 groups that are also arranged into two columns and five rows, for 1,000 ships in total. Label above the depiction:]
1,000 tankers full of agave
[Still further below on the left, a huge pile of citrus fruits is shown. Label below the depiction:]
The juice from 20 trillion limes
[A picture of a comet in space, on a black background with many stars. This depiction is considerably larger than the aforementioned ones. Label above the depiction:]
One comet nucleus
(1) Drain Lake Mead, combine ingredients behind Hoover Dam
[Below, there is a depiction of liquid from three pipes being poured and the comet being lowered into a site that lies between a dam and rock formations.]
(2) Detonate comet using Bruce Willis's drilling rig from Armageddon (1998)
[Below, the aforementioned site is now filled with liquid and the comet has a drilling rig on top of it. An explosion is shown in the middle of the comet.]
(3) Dispense drink through Hoover Dam turbines
[Below, the same site without the comet but with rock fragments instead. The liquid is pouring through the dam via a pipe into a bucket on the other side.]

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A standard LR1 oil tanker holds, at most, 25.8 million gallons of gasoline. At an IBA specification of 50ml of tequila per margarita, Randall's ratio would make 1.95 billion margaritas, or around 6 for every resident of the United States assuming they could all be assembled at the base of Lake Mead. (talk) 21:41, 25 January 2023 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Of course they could be. "Free margaritas (only slightly contaminated by radioactive fall-out)" will surely attract all but the most sober and serious types... 00:25, 26 January 2023 (UTC)
25.8 * 10^6 litre times 4000 tankers divided by 50ml gives 2.064 x 10^12 cocktails. Divided by 332 million residents of the US results in more like 6216 cocktails per person. OceanOle (talk) 11:17, 26 January 2023 (UTC)

It's also a riff on Stan Freberg's routine about turning Lake Michigan into a giant chocolate Sundae. (talk) 23:42, 25 January 2023 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

2022's record-breaking tequila production could fill about about seven oil tankers. Since tequila production in any significant quantity started less than 500 years ago, 4000 tankers of tequila would be more tequila than has ever existed. - 04:08, 26 January 2023 (UTC)

I interpreted "on the rocks" in this case to refer to the terrain downstream of Lake Mead, rather than the rocky material of the comet. Though either one seems reasonable. 04:35, 26 January 2023 (UTC)

According to Wikipedia, Lake Mead contains a volume of up to 34.82 km^3. Assuming 2 cocktails of 0.3 litre per person, Lake Mead can store enough margarita for 5.8 x 10^13 people or around 7250 times the current world population. So you don't have to feel any guilt for getting a third cocktail. OceanOle (talk) 11:04, 26 January 2023 (UTC)

Well, that'll give the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster a run for its money... IByte (talk) 11:09, 26 January 2023 (UTC)

Should we really have "citation needed" for the description of "on the rocks"? I got that description from the Wikipedia page for Margarita. I thought we use this sarcastically for things that are obviously true and don't really need citation. Barmar (talk) 17:28, 26 January 2023 (UTC)

I feel like someone needs to explain more about the 20 trillion limes. That's easily over 2,000 limes per person (even more per adult) on the planet. Right now, the explanation says the recipe provides 1,705 servings of tequila per adult on the planet. So, there is more lime juice than tequila? That seems like a lot to me (I thought the lime was a garnish?), but I don't know much about margaritas. (talk) 18:03, 26 January 2023 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Well, it's certainly in the right range of "seems like a lot". And I couldn't tell you (though doubtless it is look-uppable) whether a single (sliced?/notched?) lime is used but... Little paper umbrellas! If there's one thing I remember from my time in the general proximity of cocktails, it's those little paper umbrellas. (No, I know the margarita isn't a rum-based 'tiki' drink but, from where I am, all such things were as exotic and distant as each other and I'm not sure that barstaff of the eighties were particularly discriminating in the manner of the non-tastable decorations.) 18:52, 26 January 2023 (UTC)

You realize, of course, the shock wave from the blast that fragments the comet's nucleus would most likely also shatter the dam, releasing a wall of Margarita downstream similar to 1919's Boston Molasses Flood that killed 21 people.  But what a way to go! RAGBRAIvet (talk) 03:49, 27 January 2023 (UTC)

Ice is pretty tough stuff. 'Dirty ice' might be slightly less so, but can still be reasonably so (and 'icy dirt' might be actually just slump into a gravel-and-other-aggregates-slurry once it finds itself at 1G), it all depending on whether it melt-welded together as it came together (or immediately after it survived its last major hit by another significant body) whilst only under the influence of its own component gravity.
The 'rubber duck' binodal nature of this comet nucleus sort of indicates how much the body could maintain structure (and how much might have shattered and, sticking around, redistributed itself). There's a WhatIf2 bit (though I don't have the book with me) about what things can maintain structural integrity under Earth (and greater) gravities and I don't think ice was included, but even given that I think that the comet would crack and slump a bit, unless added gently enough to the drinks mix to initially float like an iceberg, it seems a given that the very need for an Armageddon solution indicates a continued and significantly unfractured solidity that requires a given megatonage of explosive power to fracture. Not just a simple hit of an icepick (or the prising loose of a proto-acorn by a proto-squirrel) to cause its destruction into loads of tiny shards.
Comet 67P/C–G is several miles wide (slightly narrower at the 'neck', but still a good half-mile or so) and 103P/Hartley smaller but still a good fraction of a mile wide. Other comets, perhaps more famed for being more visible due to their sizes, are tens of miles or more.
Underground nuclear testing has shown how far down within rock (and overlying pedosphere) you should put a nuclear device to not just nakedly burst straight out through to the surface (however much you plug the test-insertion hole), but at most just cause a slumping crater as the Zone Of Irreversible Strain acts to self-seal against immediate venting. Ice is comparable to the the least dense rocks, in strength, which is still significant. Having an eye on the actual composition of our chosen mass of dirty-ice, and without the worries of whether we need to overkill the explosion to avoid biting the interplanetary bullet (and, perhaps instead, facing up to an interplanetary 'shotgun blast' of very nearly the same mass!) we can choose our yield intelligently to ensure that the limits of the Crushed Zone of the blast are well within the nucleus's edges, with the rest of the ice being either already within the Cracked Zone or (by having cracked, crushed or, with the innermost zone, melted the rest) primed the 'intact' bits to be unable to sufficiently support themselves against gravity. Calculations might need to be done to ensure no explosive-lensing is liable to focus upon the dam-wall (several miles away), but there's a reason why the Dambusters had to have a weapon that delivered itself exactly against their chosen dams' inner faces at a precise depth... The energy reacts differently entering liquid rather than solid. Perhaps the biggest danger is an overtopping tsunami of as yet uniced drink?
As a bonus, the water content is a good neutron-stopper, and I'm assuming we're going for a clean-as-possible thermonuclear option, so a quite small fissile stage with no need for fission-fusion-fission chaining. The biggest danger might be the lead you use in place of U-238 tampering, but diluted into so much liquid (alcohol, juice and whatever water there is), an itty-bitty comet-cracker is probably barely significant to add to the mix. You probably have more metal/contaminants from whatever remains of the drill-rig than the bomb. And any chunks (or recondensed lumps) probably settle to the bed of Lake Margarita and never make their way to the turbines. I do worry about those turbine blades being damaged by the ice-chunks, more than anything, though if they [i]can[/i] survive it then it might help with the mixing and making the crushed ice even more crushed.
That said, there are a lot of unknowns that I'm just assuming will be handled 'correctly'. And trusting to Randall's basic schematic, despite clearly depicting the Hoover Dam as if made of blocks, rather than a continuously-poured concrete structure that does have internal gaps (construction time cooling ducts and maintence tunnels, plus any flow-relief channels not actually cut through the canyon's sidewalls) that might match the image. So I make assumptions of my own and await the discovery that, when we really do it, the first few thousand people awaiting the start of the drinks party end up getting brained by a mass of surprisingly ballistic limes, or something. (I'd be happy to watch, either way. But from well upstream and upwind, if I can arrange it, there'll be enough livestreamers to ensure that I need not miss any part of the initial spectacle. And, if it works without a hitch or general mass public disorder unrelated to any of the above, no chance of them running dry before I get handed my own glass or two.) 11:36, 27 January 2023 (UTC)

Would anyone happen to know how many limes exist on Earth at any one time, to the nearest trillion? 00:08, 31 January 2023 (UTC)

A vaguely related filk song ==

Molecular Clouds 12:32, 27 January 2023 (UTC)

Of course, what really should be poured (in vast quantities) into the basin of Lake Mead is... Mead! 08:27, 7 February 2023 (UTC)