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  • Ice-nine

    (1) Any doomsday catalyst; any precipitator which brings about cataclysmic, apocalyptic change -- yes, Virginia, THE END of the world, Armageddon, "that's all she wrote", APOCALYPTIC #FAIL!

    (2) The Unholy Grail of overzealous scientists who in the thoughtless pursuit of "pure science" unwittingly create a doomsday device.

    (3) Specifically, the fictional doomsday catalyst envisioned by Kurt Vonnegut in his novel "Cat's Cradle." Ironically, the inventor of Vonnegut's "ice-nine" never intended his creation to be used as a doomsday device; this shortsighted scientist only foresaw "ice-nine" being used for the ploddingly pedestrian purpose of making it possible for combat Marines to march over mud in much the same manner that Jesus is said to have come striding across the tempest-tossed waves of the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 14:24).


    (1) ' "Suppose," chortled Dr. Breed, "there were many possible ways water could freeze. Suppose the ice we skate upon -- what we might call ice-one -- is only one type of ice. Suppose water always froze as ice-one because it had never had a seed to teach it how to form ice-two, ice-three, ice-four? Suppose there were one form, which we will call ice-nine -- with a melting point of 130 degrees. " '

    -- "Cat's Cradle", Ch. 20

    (2) ' Breed asked me to think of Marines in a swamp.

    ' "Their trucks are sinking in ooze."

    ' He winked. "But suppose one Marine had a capsule containing a seed of ice-nine, a new way for the atoms of water to stack and lock, to freeze. If that Marine threw that seed into the nearest puddle . . . ?"

    ' "The puddle would freeze?" I guessed.

    ' "And all the puddles . . .?"

    ' "They would freeze?"

    ' "You bet they would!" he cried. "And the Marines would rise from the swamp and march on!" '

    -- "Cat's Cradle", Ch. 21

    (3) ' "I keep thinking about that swamp" I said. "If the streams flowing through the swamp froze as ice-nine, what about the rivers and lakes the streams fed?"

    ' "They'd freeze."

    ' "And the oceans . . . ?"

    ' "They'd freeze, of course," Dr. Breed snapped.

    ' "And the springs . . . ?"

    ' "They'd freeze, damn it!" he cried.

    ' "And the rain?"

    ' "When it fell, it would freeze into hard little hobnails of ice-nine -- and that would be the end of the world!" '

    -- "Cat's Cradle", Ch. 22

    August 24, 2013

  • in reading the Wikipedia article for this, it's interesting to note that there are 15 types of ice created at super low temperatures and super high pressures.

    the Ice III article has a temperature/pressure phase diagram.

    time for me to update the 600 word list of Ice and Snow.

    August 24, 2013