So it turns out that you cannot use special characters in titles on Windows Live Writer, If I could you’d see the equation as “E=MC[Squared]”. So I suppose we’ll just agree that that is what you see and play this imagination game.

It’s an equation that basically everyone probably knows, at least in name. It’s the famous equation of energies relationship to mass discovered by Einstein. I’m probably describing it incorrectly, the Wikipedia heading is far more wordy. But I’m hoping I’m close enough for jazz.

The thing that has always gotten me about this formula is that it was never really explained to me. I knew the basic constructs, E stands for Energy, M stands for Mass, C stands for the Speed of Light.

But what measurements are we using? How are we calculating mass? Joules? Calories? KWH? Searching for this wasn’t entirely helpful as the first few websites wanted to be cryptic and say that its basically up to the writer. While I enjoy a good cryptic message as much as the next person I do appreciate when people could *just be clear*.

Obviously the measurement of the Speed of Light is in Metric, no right minded person would measure things in standard (heh). Basically any physicist is going to have this number memorized, but I follow another line of reasoning that Einstein is quoted as saying:

“Never memorize something that you can look up.”

― Albert Einstein

So I haven’t, it’s a good piece of advice, its also a often repeated bit of reasoning used by Sherlock Holmes. He’s terrible with current events or anything he deems unfit for his brain storage, this is how, he says, he can store all the actual important data that helps him solve cases with super human accuracy.

The wonderful world of the internet says that the Speed of Light is equal to 299,792,458 meters per Second, which for anyone familiar with light or the metric system is very fast. I’m going to round off to 300,000,000 because this isn’t life or death test taking or bomb building.

Obviously C is that number squared which comes out to 89,875,517,873,681,760 meters per Second. With C out of the way were only have E and M to figure out before we do a quick, and potentially incorrect, thought experiment.

M is measured in kilograms, for the record I weigh 61.23 kilograms. 1 lb is about .45 kilograms, in case you want to do the math yourself for your own weight.

Finally E is measured in joules, which is an awesome sounding word. I truthfully didn’t know what a joule really pertained to, I knew it was a measurement of energy but that’s about as helpful as only knowing that arsenic is “an element” when deciding if you can safely eat it or not. Thankfully Wikipedia came to the rescue with this bit of information.

The work required to produce one watt of power for one second, or one “watt second” (W·s) (compare kilowatt hour). This relationship can be used to define the watt.

Ah! A watt! That’s something I know, this is fantastic. So a Joule is the same as the work necessary to produce a single watt. So it would take a thousand Joules to produce a kilowatt (thousand watts) for one second. Which has inspired me to research a kilowatt hour and perhaps discuss that sometime soon.

At any rate, we know have E, M, and C. So lets figure this out.

It’s unlikely, perhaps impossible, to convert a human body completely into energy. But if we assumed that you could fulfill the formula above and convert the mass in my body into energy you would get the following.

E = 61.23*89,875,517,873,681,760

E = 5,503,077,959,405,534,000

I screwed up the math the first time (was off by a factor of 10), but this should be correct. The energy from 61.23 kilograms of matter is equal to 5.5 Petajoules. Assuming I found the correct terminology this means that if you could completely convert all that matter you would generate as much energy as 5 and a half Tsar Bombs or 55 times more explosive energy than all the explosives detonated in WW2. Even neater it would be the equivalent of 1 and a quarter Krakatoa Eruptions.

This means that if a person cleanly exploded, 100% matter to energy the resulting detonation would change the weather across the planet. While I assume explosions are not linear in growth, if they were, you would create a blast radius of 3,200 kilometers wide. That’s something like 1200 miles across, which considering Montana is only 320 or so miles across is quite the explosion. I’m suspecting by the sheer size of this explosion that my math is off in terms of the up scaling.

You might be curious why I’ve been thinking about this, its actually something very important for me. I don’t want to go too in depth but ole me has a tendency to write things and then check to see just how close he was in retrospect. This is very useful information. Even if I’m off, the basic idea is there, if a person detonated cleanly the resulting blast would be catastrophic.

I’m actually curious how much energy it would take to shatter the Earth, it seems like a blast that stretches across 2/3rds of the US would do it. I’ll look around, I suspect it’s a great deal considering how large the Earth is.