T Nation

Underground Village

Hey all,

I was watching the science channel the other night and a special was on about the next comet impact and the aftermath. It was eye opening, it is what supposedly caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, either that or a large asteroid, but either way it was some giant impact. The thing that got me was there would be no sunlight, literally, for months to a year.

All plant life would die, only those plants who had seeds in the ground in a dormant state, would grow again after the sun started to come back. That is if they survived the acid rain and harsh conditions. In any event, Solar power would be out, and the EMP pulse would disable all electronic equipment on the planet. Energy would be extremely difficult to come by, as would food and clean water.

I started thinking about how mankind could possibly survive this event, without our technology, MOST people are woefully un-prepared to survive out in the pristene wild, let alone a harsh new environment with virtually no plant or animal life.

I thought about a deep underground village. Powered by Geothermal electrical converters. They get thier energy from the earths own heat, not the sun, so they could run without interruption. They would power all the needs of the village, including the massive banks of growing lights and UV bulbs that would simulate the suns energy. Crops could be planted and even small fruit trees. Some livestock would also be able to be kept though this would be mainly to re-populate the earth when it was livable again. The village would be tapped into a large underground aquafier, which would provide a good supply of clean water. The lights would be controlled by a computer system, much like in a hydropinics setup, with precise timing for each crop to maximise the growth cycles and harvest. The plant mass would provide the oxygen for the inhabitants. Seeds from all around the earth could be stored in freezers to help re-introduce them once the world is ready to accept life again.

A sweage remediation system would be used to clean water and fertilize soil for crops. Nothing would be wasted, everything would be recycled. They have very small scale systems like this designed for placement on another planets surface, though they run on solar/nuclear energy, and only support a few people. With the Geothermal energy source, you could support a much larger population of plants and animals and humans. Computer networks would be used to store as much important information about our history and our technology as possible, so we could quickly return to a modern state, with perhaps a little better balance with nature. Indeed, this underground village, would likley be replicated on the surface in the future, only using other energy sources as well like solar and wind.

With large seed banks and of course a very large supply of UV and Grow lights, you could keep this village running smoothly for lifetimes. I am not sure how long it would be needed, but other than planting and harvesting there would be very little manual labor to do. With a population (mixed racial makeups) of a couple hundred, it would be a pretty easy life. The tempature would be ideally regulated, there is no threats from outside the system, you are after all 1-2 thousand feet under the ground. People could then focus on arts and sciences and recreation. Bycicles would be the preferred mode of transport around the village. And maybe a horse drawn cart or two for the harvests.

The setup costs of this system would indeed be astronomical, but once it is in place, I really think humans could survive almost indefinately. Selection into the village would be important. Obviously you would need a wide variety of genetic heratiges to maximize your genetic diversity of offspring. Inbreeding would be this new populations biggest problem. You would need specialists also, Doctors, Tradesman, Scientist, Teachers, Farmers. People who make the world go round, and the best of these. Also there would be some pretty hefty weighting on temperment, People who are prone to anger or violence could do a lot of harm to a small balanced system. Damage just one part of the system and it could easily fail. I have to say that since I am the mastermind, I get a spot with my family, and i’d probably take a leadership position with regard to making decisions about the village. I’d be similar to the mayor. Certain systems would be completely off limits to everyone except Myself and maybe one or two other administrators of the system.

One of the nice things about this village is allthough it would be agrarian in nature, we could still have electronics. I could system link a few Xbox 360’s around the village and play games with eachother. People will be able to bring DVD collections and music collections. Our own mainframe will have as much information as we could possibly get, having downloaded the servers from many online resources.

Initially the system would be very connected to the outside world. There would be cables running up the elevator shaft, that keep the group connected to the outside world, and also visits to the surface would be easy to achieve. Basically, post impact, the communications would shut themselves offfrom the surface when the EMP pulse destroys the surface electronics.

Ok so who has 100M $ and who wants in.

V

100M $?

That won’t even cover the cost of digging your hole.

I’m pretty sure I could dig the shaft and then tunnel it out for 100M I realize the dollar is crashing, but still, thats a lot of money. The way I see it, the other two very expensive elements would be the Geothermal plant and the waste treatment plant. The computer system, Bah, couple hundred thousand or so, and all the rest of the shit would cost under a million combined. Hell who cares, say it costs 200M , it’s still worth it as a species to have this in place. It would protect our species from just about anything short of the earth splitting in half.

V

AS long as I get ridiculously jacked before then I can die happy.

You honestly think geothermal energy would be anywhere near enough to power all your gizmos and gadgets?

[quote]Vegita wrote:
I’m pretty sure I could dig the shaft and then tunnel it out for 100M I realize the dollar is crashing, but still, thats a lot of money. The way I see it, the other two very expensive elements would be the Geothermal plant and the waste treatment plant. The computer system, Bah, couple hundred thousand or so, and all the rest of the shit would cost under a million combined. Hell who cares, say it costs 200M , it’s still worth it as a species to have this in place. It would protect our species from just about anything short of the earth splitting in half.

V[/quote]

The Big Dig in Boston ran up costs close to 15B$ for about 5km of tunnel.

We just finished extending the Montreal subway to Laval Island, at a cost of over 100M$ for each kilometer.

And you need to go much deeper than that. Presumably, you want to survive even if the comet hits right on top of your underground village. You’re going to need to go very deep do have any chance of surviving such an impact.

Unless your village is the size of a phone booth, 100M$ gets you nowhere.

The digs you mention may indeed have cost that much to dig, but from what I can recall of them they had to do them very quickly, in tunneling terms that is. Using the most recent and most expensive machinery to do the work would indeed cost much more than I want it to cost. My plan would not need to be done in a year or two, we could use simpler and cheaper technology to get the work accomplished. Plus by the time all the planning and designing is done, the technology may be a lot cheaper to actually do the digging.

The underground town would likley not be deep enough to survive the direct impact of a comet or large asteroid directly over top of it. I would ideally want to build several of these on every continent. Lets not focus on the costs for right now, because the survival of the human species is not something you can put a price tag on. I was more looking for input on the concept.

As for Geothermal energy, some of the new plants do very well at producing electricity, and the technology is relatively underdeveloped, so i’m sure that after working on it for a few years it could be made very efficient at converting earth heat into electricity. The two main power drains would be the lights, and the computer systems. Heating would be minimal as the lights would take care of most of it, and it would be a pretty consistant temp naturally, so you may just have to bump the tempature up to 70 degrees or so. If you tapped into an underground Aquifer that is above your elevation, the water would flow with gravity down to you with most likley very good pressure, so you probably wouldn’t even need pumping equipment.

Again, i’m not saying that this I lose sleep over a comet impact and the species dying, I’m just saying that I think we are at the point where we have the means and technology available to do something to survive such a thing.

V

[quote]Vegita wrote:
The digs you mention may indeed have cost that much to dig, but from what I can recall of them they had to do them very quickly, in tunneling terms that is. Using the most recent and most expensive machinery to do the work would indeed cost much more than I want it to cost. My plan would not need to be done in a year or two, we could use simpler and cheaper technology to get the work accomplished.[/quote]

Maybe they had to go fast, but they didn’t have to go deep. You do.

I also assume you’ll want to dig through solid bedrock, so as to have something that can weather earthquakes or even just the shock waves from the impact.

So you’ll have to dig into something hard and, as you go deeper and deeper, you’ll have to bring up the rock further and further. Carrying heavy stuff is expensive.

You’ll also need to put in place some structure to make sure you don’t have cave-ins.

I think your 100M$ is not just slightly off, but maybe 2 or 3 order of magnitudes off. Maybe more.

Unless they figure out how to teleport the debris on the moon for pennies, I wouldn’t count on that.

Digging hasn’t evolved that much in the last 50 years. I know, I watch “Monster Machines.”

Multiplying the already astronomical cost?

Since we’re talking about hundreds of billions (at least) here, why not instead invest in enough satellites and telescope to be able to identify all the asteroids and comets large enough to be a problem.

We’d save billions, and with the left over we can put in place a plan to alter their courses when we detect one that will eventually collide with the Earth.

If you can spot it from far way enough, you have years, even decades, to nudge it a little, so that the accumulated “error” in its course makes it miss the Earth entirely when the time comes.

To be blunt: It sucks. It’s unaffordable for most of the world and is only effective for a small subset of the world population.

Tracking and nudging, on the other hand, is technically feasible and protects everyone. Moreover, the benefits from the improved space technology would trickle down into the consumer market and give us cool new gadgets.

Yes, but by preventing the impact altogether, not by turtling under the Earth.

Pookie, I don’t think the point of his post was to ask for a cost estimate.

We already have NORAD here which is a known facility and there is a facility in Kansas that is underground.

I just read an article about that seed bank in Iceland. They have it guarded and secured and stocked. Pretty interesting. Before the article I didn’t even know these seed banks existed for the purpose of plant repopulation.

Does anyone else remember Biosphere? I wish they would do a follow up article on that. I wonder if it is still going on.

Vegita, there is a book called “Tyrannasaur Canyon” by Douglas Preston that describes that asteroid crash.

Supposedly the ash plume reached half way to the moon before falling back to earth.

only mammals survived the impact, according to the theory. Without the asteroid we may not have evolved.

I watch Monster Machines also, and I think the digging technology HAS changed dramatically in the last 50 years. The huge moles they use to tunnel are nothing short of amazing. They are basically huge metal earthwroms.

You get through rock the same way they do in mining, TNT and drill bits. You don’t need to haul the rock straight up, dig at a 45 degree angle and use conveyor systems to remove the material. I don’t even know if you need to be 1000-2000M underground, perhaps 100M would be good enough to shield you from an EMP. Also this thing would protect from self inflicted destruction also. Unfortunately the threat of nuclear holocaust has not gone away completely and in fact, may be more of a reality today, then in the past. So while it may not be the best way to survive asteroids and comets, it is the best way to survive Everything, except the earth being cut in half. Hell if aliens cam down and enslaved the entire planet, you may be able to go unnoticed in this underground village.

V

[quote]Vegita wrote:
The digs you mention may indeed have cost that much to dig, but from what I can recall of them they had to do them very quickly, in tunneling terms that is. Using the most recent and most expensive machinery to do the work would indeed cost much more than I want it to cost. My plan would not need to be done in a year or two, we could use simpler and cheaper technology to get the work accomplished. Plus by the time all the planning and designing is done, the technology may be a lot cheaper to actually do the digging. …

V[/quote]

Simpler and cheaper excavations usually end up costing more in labor. I suggest enslaving your workers.

[quote]OctoberGirl wrote:

Vegita, there is a book called “Tyrannasaur Canyon” by Douglas Preston that describes that asteroid crash.

Supposedly the ash plume reached half way to the moon before falling back to earth.

only mammals survived the impact, according to the theory. Without the asteroid we may not have evolved.

[/quote]

I am not trying to be a smartass here, but if the ash plume had enough escape velocity to get out of earth gravity well and was still moving towards the moon, then how would it “fall back” on earth?

Or did you mean the plume got half way to the moon before the kinetic energy of the impact wore off enough, that it could raise no more ash beyond earth orbit?

Ok I’m being dumb sorry… hahah.

As long as Bruce Willis is still alive we are safe.

BTW OG, thanks for trying to keep Pookie on track, I forgot how much arguing he likes to do. Very smart, but geez!

V

[quote]R@NE wrote:
OctoberGirl wrote:

Vegita, there is a book called “Tyrannasaur Canyon” by Douglas Preston that describes that asteroid crash.

Supposedly the ash plume reached half way to the moon before falling back to earth.

only mammals survived the impact, according to the theory. Without the asteroid we may not have evolved.

I am not trying to be a smartass here, but if the ash plume had enough escape velocity to get out of earth gravity well and was still moving towards the moon, then how would it “fall back” on earth?

Or did you mean the plume got half way to the moon before the kinetic energy of the impact wore off enough, that it could raise no more ash beyond earth orbit?

Ok I’m being dumb sorry… hahah.

As long as Bruce Willis is still alive we are safe.
[/quote]

The moon is trapped in the earths gravity field, so if the ash got halfway to the moon, it would still be well in earths gravity field. I think you are confusing atmosphere and gravity field.

Zap, enslaving my workers was actually on the top of my list, Hell it worked for the Pyramids.

V

[quote]R@NE wrote:
OctoberGirl wrote:

Vegita, there is a book called “Tyrannasaur Canyon” by Douglas Preston that describes that asteroid crash.

Supposedly the ash plume reached half way to the moon before falling back to earth.

only mammals survived the impact, according to the theory. Without the asteroid we may not have evolved.

I am not trying to be a smartass here, but if the ash plume had enough escape velocity to get out of earth gravity well and was still moving towards the moon, then how would it “fall back” on earth?

Or did you mean the plume got half way to the moon before the kinetic energy of the impact wore off enough, that it could raise no more ash beyond earth orbit?

Ok I’m being dumb sorry… hahah.

As long as Bruce Willis is still alive we are safe.
[/quote]

You know… they probably meant the impact hurled the debris half way to the moon and just used the term, “before falling back”. Thanks for the catch!

And of course, I should mention it was a fiction book, but at the end they listed the references and all that.

I would think it would have to be conjecture as to what actually happened.

and we already have mines. Of course last year there were a lot of cave ins, but using those and converting to your village would solve part of the problem.

Regarding slave labor… well it did build the only monuments that have lasted 2000 years and more.

Also built the greatest empires… hhhmmmm could be a whole new thread.

[quote]Vegita wrote:
BTW OG, thanks for trying to keep Pookie on track, I forgot how much arguing he likes to do. Very smart, but geez!

V[/quote]

Well really when it comes to cost if it is the only thing that would ensure life then whatever it costs, do it.

[quote]OctoberGirl wrote:
Pookie, I don’t think the point of his post was to ask for a cost estimate.[/quote]

Vegita ends with “Who has 100M$…” clearly, he thinks his plan is affordable.

Those are Command-and-Control Centers and are mostly designed to be able to coordinate US Armed Forces in case of nuclear war.

They’re not really designed for humanity to survive in case of massive comet impact.

That’s pretty recent. And their goal is to prevent the loss of biodiversity to global warming.

Well that cost 200M$, was above ground and much smaller than what most people think of when they hear “village.” IIRC, there where about 10 people in there.

I don’t want to be the boring accountant with my cost estimates, but if you’re going to make contingency plans for eventual catastrophe, you have to be able to realize them without bankrupting the country.

[quote]Vegita wrote:
Hell if aliens cam down and enslaved the entire planet, you may be able to go unnoticed in this underground village.[/quote]

If the aliens have mastered faster-than-light travel, don’t you think they might be able to detect the heat signature from your exhausts vents?

With all your lights and computer systems (not to mention everything else you didn’t mention), you’re going to be generating a lot of waste heat. It’s gotta come out somewhere.