Monday, July 2, 2012

Notes from the Mad Science Lab: Supervolcano Prevention

It's been a busy weekend. How to explain...? Well, one of my, er, colleagues has lately become concerned with the dangers of global warming and its potential socio-ecological effects. This, to be fair, is a reasonable concern.

Where it became a problem was, more or less, the point at which Max Cognate (not his real name, obviously) decided that the solution was as simple as it was obvious: he would find a way to trigger an eruption of the Yellowstone Supervolcano, thus hurling enough dirt and ash into the atmosphere to create a miniature Ice Age. At that point, Global Warming would seem like a happy memory.

Now, Mad Scientists aren't generally noted for our restraint; and we certainly admire Alexandrian solutions. (Though, to be sure, no Mad Scientist worth his salt would have been satisfied with using a mere sword to cut the Gordian Knot; a spinning wheel of scythes attached to the front of a chariot seems more likely.) So, upon hearing about this project, my initial reaction was mainly admiration for the elegant simplicity of Max's plan. But, well...

Do you have any idea how hard it is to clean up volcanic ash? It's horrible, horrible stuff, it sticks to everything, and it takes an industrial-grade washer to get it out. That wouldn't be a problem, except that my industrial grade washer is solar powered. So a gigantic cloud of volcanic ash is pretty much my sartorial Achilles' Heel. Therefore, I could not allow Max Cognate to follow through on his plan.

I hope you won't think me sentimental if I tell you that I didn't want to kill Max. Granted, that was the simple and obvious solution, but Max was simply trying to avert disaster. A gruesome death didn't really seem warranted. (It would have been another matter altogether if he had been competing with my research, obviously.) Also, I wasn't entirely sure that killing him was possible. Max and I were among the few surviving members of the 1999 graduating class at the Victor Frankenstein School of Natural Philosophy; which is to say that each of us had failed to kill the other on several occasions already.

So, I sent a cyberspider to, ahem, "bug" Max's secret laboratory. That allowed me to discover what his initial attempt would look like: deep-burrowing mutant gophers.

No problem. The shark-toothed wombats burrowed in behind them, and ate them before they got deep enough to be a danger. Round One: me.

His second attempt was more interesting: an orbital micro-laser which would punch a hole in the rock and allow all that pressurized magma to come rushing to the surface. That would have been trickier if the satellite had already been in orbit. As it happened, the satellite finished its launch with a small, but exceedingly powerful, electromagnet attached to it. The magnet immediately pulled in two weather satellites, which sent the laser spinning off-course. I think it was the collision with the CIA's spy-satellite that finished it, though. Round Two: also me.

At this point, Max Cognate realized that someone was actively interfering with his work. He located my cyber-spider, which immediately self-destructed. That should have prevented him from tracing the signal back to me, but I couldn't count on that. So...

I called him. On the phone. Pathetically twentieth-century, I know, but it was the easiest way. Max was reasonably gracious about the whole thing, though I can fairly expect a couple of my own projects to go mysteriously awry over the next couple of years. In any case, Max Cognate is now working on a new project: a network of geothermally powered Weather Control Stations across the globe. That will keep him busy for a while, and won't spread ash all over my solar collectors.

So, all's well that ends well. Unless, of course, he was lying when he said he wouldn't try to kill me...


  1. I don't think Max would lie to you, probably part of his code.

  2. Neutralizing Max is all very well, but what happens when the shark-toothed wombats realize you're endangering them by sending them too close to the magma pool, and return to your lab for revenge? Think, man! How long will it take them to chew the solar collectors into nonfunctional shreds?!


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