Tuesday February 18, 2014
Book 14: Broken Wind — Part III: Exhalation and Exit Strategies

Note: Getting one hundred and sixteen grams of antimatter into just ten kilograms of containment takes some real doing. The usual method of trapping anti-hydrogen inside a carbon buckyball will result in a far heavier containment system, since the atomic mass of the buckyball (sixty carbon atoms) is around seven hundred and twenty times that of monatomic anti-hydrogen. 

Obviously, the solution is to trap heavier antimatter. A single anti-carbon nucleus would reduce the mass ratio between the matter and antimatter from 720:1 to 60:1, and there are heavier forms of antimatter available. This, of course, raises a security question: where did Lieutenant Pibald acquire anti-copper, or anti-sodium, or (knowing his style) anti-uranium?

Commentary: With regard to measuring the blast, it is reasonable to wonder why The Narrator said "five thousand kilotons" instead of the syllabically-simpler "five megatons." The answer lies in the demands of narrative symmetry. This strip first appeared on February 18th of 2014, making it the 5,000th daily installment of Schlock Mercenary. It's a big enough number that we just HAD to blow something up.


NARRATOR: The sky above Shodan's team...

This is the light from a five thousand kiloton blast.

It takes a hair under 116.4 grams of antimatter to power this.

The round itself massed just over 10 kilograms, but most of that is containment and delivery.  Still, it's a small package with a very big punch.

NARRATOR: Big enough that after you fire it you should hide in a bunker.

SHODAN: Thank you, 'Chelle.  Quick thinking.

CHELLE: Maxim 44: If it will blow a hole in the ground, it will double as an entrenching tool.