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In which cream cheese fetishes fuel geological pinball

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In the early 2030s, New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington, was in trouble. Big trouble. Geological surveys discovered that colossal tectonic geological pressures were building up directly under the city, causing solid rock to stretch and flow like cream cheese. A bit more scanning revealed that the under-city rock actually was cream cheese, and for a few minutes this caused a major panic in the geology lab, with scientists rushing around trying to write up cream-cheese-based planetary formation theories, before a technician noticed someone had spilled their lunch on the scanner camera lens.

The scientists found they were actually quite disappointed – after the initial shock, they found they rather liked the idea of planets being made of cream cheese, and a motion to not only put the cream cheese back on the lens, but to add it to every other tectonic scanner lens in existence, was only juuuust defeated.

The citizens of the city had been aware of the earthquake-prone nature of the region for some decades now, and had been going to a shitload of careful and industrious effort to earthquake-proof their buildings and homes. They used several methods – by elevating their homes above several metres of jelly, not the shitty dollar-a-packet stuff you get from the supermarket, but the nice, gourmet stuff, which smells of roses, makes excellent early childhood teachers and can fight Nazis; and by hiring several thousand Roman galley slaves to man galleys and physically block any incoming tsunamis.

Some of the more enterprising Wellington citizens also figured that if animals have strange premonitions about oncoming natural disasters and can react and escape in terror, but more importantly, in survival, then clearly natural disasters are in turn going to have strange premonitions about especially dangerous animals, and escape to safety as well.

A huge breeding and genetic engineering program therefore kicked off, in an attempt to breed domestic rabbits that stood 20m tall, breathed fire, wore red-hot chainmail jackets just to show how cool and tough and groovy they were, and could drink several cubic metres of molten tungsten carbide every single day without ill effect. Sure enough, the breeding program finished in 2039 and not a single natural disaster hit the city for almost two years, but of course, you never can tell whether that’s just luck, or if the Mega-Rabbits were actually successfully doing their thing.

To test their theory, the genetic engineers behind the project requested that the Space Program send a few dozen gigantic comets New Zealand’s way, simply to ensure that the natural-disasters-in-comet-form would be intimidated as planned, and therefore skedaddle. The comets were flung at New Zealand, on schedule, and serried ranks of some nine million Mega-Rabbits snarled deafeningly back, ready to do their job.

Three minutes later, the Rabbit Project’s chief engineer remarked, over the sound of all that remained of NZ’s West Island collapsing into the sea, that the searing heat from comet re-entry turned out to be a pretty damn good way of barbequing rabbit. Yummy.

The latest geological simulations, though, showed that the gigantic pressures on Wellington’s underground would rupture any second now. The upcoming earthquake was something special, something different, and it was quite likely that the entire lower North Island would be shaken and ripple like a skipping rope, flinging the entire city of Wellington many hundreds of kilometres into the air before messily splatting into Antarctica.

The citizens, scientists and local government of Wellington quickly and frantically held a series of town meetings to sort this shit out once and for all, and to destroy the Earth’s ability to generate earthquakes for good.

The very next morning, construction began on colossal seawater pumping stations, and seawater splurged in to every old abandoned mine in the country, the idea being that if you add a ton of lubrication to the Earth’s crust, the tectonic plates are going to move more easily and freely, thus causing millions of harmless little earthquakes, and preventing major earthquakes. Two more years passed and the earthquake count was zero. Not even the little fiddly ones you normally get every day.

The scientists were stumped. How odd! An hour’s Googling later, and a solution jumped forward – it turned out the old mines they’d pumped the billions of tons of seawater into had all been excavating one single gigantic, country-spanning mineral seam of Selley’s No More Gaps, and the seawater had simply dissolved and fused the lot. Disaster!

Another city meeting was frantically held, with the severed heads of the former scientists who thought it was such a fucking brilliant idea to try underground water displayed prominently and threateningly at front. After many hours of fearful debate, everyone got a bit bored and started cracking into the Official Booze Supplies, thoughtfully placed at every single city meeting and public gathering after a rather embarrassing incident some years prior. The local meetup of the dastardly Teetotaler Forces Of Pure Evil jad launched one of their dawn raids on the city, and overran all of Wellington for several weeks, before our brave insurgent boys were able to commandeer a brewing vat and scare the bastards off.

A new scientist timidly raised a hand through her own mental haze of alcohol. “Hey, look, er, the problem here is the Water-Selleys mixture is far too gloopy, tough and viscous,” she slurred, “and continental drift has ground to a halt. Why don’t we hic try a lubricating liquid with no viscosity?”

She eventually admitted that the most practical liquid known that had zero viscosity was helium-3, which to the best of science’s knowledge, was found in large quantities only in the upper atmosphere of Jupiter. “Great! Let’s do that! That’ll do nicely!”, the drunken crowd drunkenly roared, and sozzled-ly exited stage left.

Fuelled by whiskey and a debilitating fear of earthquakes, the civic-duty-minded crowd charged up to Wellington’s space port, commandeered anything looking like it could make the flight to Jupiter, loaded up a vast amount of helium-3-harvesting equipment and piping, and blasted off.

Once at Jupiter, the harvesting equipment hummed along very nicely, filling vat after vat of lovely helium-3, and to get the stuff back to Earth, the rather now hung-over crowd rigged up a big ol’ stretchy hollow bungy cord pipe back to New Zealand, spanning half the Solar System, and oscillating like a skipping rope so that when Earth and Jupiter were on opposite sides of the Sun, the rope would wobble over and around it, thus avoiding inconvenient scorching. Simple.

At first, people just tried pumping large amounts of liquid helium directly into the ground, but after the entire country did a chipmunk impression for several days, people finally got over their hangovers and realised that helium-3 had a boiling point of 3.19K, or minus five thousand Fahrenheit. Oh no! Any sort of heat just makes it boil away! Now what do we do?

Yet another city meeting was held. Result: New Zealand’s industrial base again leaped into action, and produced megatons of aerogel insulation around every single New Zealand fault line. The insulation cooled it down to absolute zero and ensured the lovely lovely helium-3 stayed liquid, non-viscous, and most importantly of all, able to perform sterling service as a lubricant. Finally, success!

The colossal tectonic forces previously noted now had an outlet, and seven minutes later, the Australian tectonic plate leaped 3,000km into space, did a 360, and smacked back into the mantle, momentarily exposing all of Australia to the soul-destroying heat of the Earth’s core, inducing the natives to put on Eskimo gear against the precipitous drop in temperature and say “Strewth, bloody cold today!”

At the same time, India tried the same thing with the Himalaya fault line system, and now with all crust friction removed, India’s own tectonic forces twanged the entire country forward like a rubber band, and launched the Indian subcontinent across and out of the ocean of the same name.

The continent broke the sound barrier, smashed into and over Tibet, the country completely cleared and soared over the top of China, Korea and Kamchatka, and the nation of India ended up wedged, edge-on, into the side of Alaska.

Sri Lanka hurtled on, skipped like a stone over the Arctic, clanged off Greenland, and whacked into Iceland. Iceland in turn dislodged Ireland, Ireland smacked into Britain, and Britain fused itself with Belgium and became physically part of Europe, thus wiping out the entire UK Conservative Party through dread-induced heart attacks. The pinko liberal Euro-communist nightmare of European integration had finally come true!

So if anything, helium-3 clearly worked a little too well at stopping earthquakes. It also turned out to be the enemy of Tories, and the ally of chipmunks. Back to square one!


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