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I asked about how much damage/the area of effect of a 1/72 cockroach nuke a week or so ago. I got several answers, but It would have been preferable if it stayed open. Here is the link: How big would the AoE/destruction of a nuke 72 times smaller than normal be assuming it still works at that scale?

My problem is not just the fact it got closed, but the fact that the close reason is blatantly false.

It says that the close reason was that the post 'was not clear enough/more clarification'.

But it was not unclear.

I asked if it would be enough to kill a human in the building, would it total the building, and the range of effect.

In addition, I gave answerers 2 types of nukes to work with, I told them that it would still work despite being 1/72 of the 2 nukes I gave as reference, and told them that the place of detonation was a mansion(or a house if that was easier to answer).

This is not an unclear question.

I think what happened was certain users got too stuck on the fact that this was not realistic despite me acknowledging that(this is a verse with talking cockroaches that stand upright), and that somehow translated to 'unclear'. This was not marked as hard-science or realistic.

If it would be possible to reopen it, I would appreciate it.

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  • $\begingroup$ That's only a guess, but I believe the downvotes on this meta-post/request are in part due to the fact that you affirm twice that your question is not unclear. Remember that communication includes you and the other, and the other person could be blindfolded to your point of view. As long as they're willing to move towards you, it's best to ask for feedbacks ("what did you not understand?", "Is it clearer if I rephrase it like that?") than pushing away their own perspective. That way we can actually move together :). $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    May 1 at 15:12
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    $\begingroup$ I mean, sure, but that has a limit. I honestly think that most of the userbase here knows this is not unclear and understands it, and if it was not clear for whatever reason, I am sure that they would have shared that with me before voting to close are maybe even after. I think the downvote is because certain users that are giddy to shoot down questions that they do not like(not realistic enough or too 'easy'), hate to have their work undone. @Tortliena $\endgroup$ May 1 at 16:40
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    $\begingroup$ Did you actually reviewed the comments under your question? 9 minutes after you posted your question AlexP posted a comment upvoted by +10 users, Robert Rapplean 2 hours later, JBH the next day. All showed concerns as to why you were asking the question, they didn't fully understand it. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    May 1 at 17:21
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    $\begingroup$ @Tortliena It wasn't that I didn't understand it, what I didn't understand is why the question wasn't trivially answered by dividing known nuclear explosions by 72. I didn't vote to close, nor will I vote to close now, but I am concerned that there are many nukes in the world varying by size and type - but the OP hasn't referenced any of them, which makes the question factually hard to answer, justifying a VTC:Needs More Details. (And the biggest reason why I'm still wondering why dividing a known nuke's damage by 72 doesn't solve the problem). $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    May 5 at 3:20
  • $\begingroup$ "..what I didn't understand is why the question wasn't trivially answered by dividing known nuclear explosions by 72." I asked as I am not the best at math plus it is always good to get a 2nd opinion. @JBH $\endgroup$ May 6 at 13:28
  • $\begingroup$ "..but I am concerned that there are many nukes in the world varying by size and type - but the OP hasn't referenced any of them, which makes the question factually hard to answer, justifying a VTC:Needs More Details." Did you ACTUALLY read the whole thing. The first bit of context I gave said that the nuke could be based on either Fat Man or Little Boy(WW 2 nukes) as I assumed there are various types of nukes and tried to make it less vague. @JBH $\endgroup$ May 6 at 13:32
  • $\begingroup$ @ConanHighwoods The condition on your question is a good point that I'd forgotten about, but I'm having trouble with your assertion about bad math (it's only division and your computer has a calculator) and asking for a second opinion is contrary to Stack Exchange's basic operation. I didn't vote to close your question because, fundamentally, it wasn't out of line - but it is too simplistic, failing to significantly advance worldbuilding technique for others, which is an important goal for Stack Exchange. (*Continued*) $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    May 7 at 2:37
  • $\begingroup$ ... To be honest, Conan, while many people ask highly personal, somewhat selfish questions on Worldbuilding, the goal of Stack Exhange is to gather information that others can find useful, too. The more story-specific the question, the less the purposes of the service owners are met. That's really something to keep in mind. We're really not here to meet any individual's needs and your questions should help more people than just yourself. Your linked question, because it's so simplistic and because you're just getting a 2nd opinion, kinda violates that goal. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    May 7 at 2:42
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    $\begingroup$ Wow, that was kinda rude. So you do not even read my post then you talk smack about it, lol!!! Ok, I am done here, it is obvious you are most likely a bot or hater. Oh, and by the way, I have had general questions that would be useful to many be closed, so do not know what you are on about. @JBH $\endgroup$ May 11 at 14:13
  • $\begingroup$ @ConanHighwoods What makes you think that I didn't read it? The fact that I forgot a condition stated in it? How odd.... As for what I'm on about, what I and others are doing are trying to help you understand how to use this stack better. If you don't want to learn, there are other services that may be more suited to your preferences. Rude is complaining that your question was closed for being unclear or lacking details by asserting that your question was perfectly clear to you. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    May 12 at 2:44
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    $\begingroup$ @JBH If you forgot it, that is on you, not me. It is obvious I made my question clear enough for most. Noone said it was unclear at first, more so how it was not realistic and why I was asking it if it was 'simple' to solve question, that is why the close reason shocked me a bit, it came out of left field. Anyways, no hard feelings from me, just try not to shoot down questions without just cause in the future if you ever have. Godspeed and peace :) $\endgroup$ May 13 at 13:58
  • $\begingroup$ @ConanHighwoods Per my first comment, I did not vote to close your question. Life will be full of people who disagree with you - and you'll be surprised how much you can learn from them if you take a deep breath and listen to what they say. Keep in mind, I'm approaching 100X your reputation and, at 55, I likely have 4X your life experience. Maybe... just maybe... the point I was trying to make has been utterly lost on you because you're upset that someone called your baby ugly. There's no such thing as a perfect question, and it's impossible to be perfectly clear to anyone but yourself. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    May 21 at 6:39

4 Answers 4

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Worldbuilding vs Realism


Here is a classic issue of tension we have in WB.SE: on one side we have the worldbuilders trying to bring some sense of wonder into the real world --- be that via fantasy or science fiction or superhero stories --- and on the other side, the reality uber alles folks who always say it can't be done go away. I honestly don't understand why they hang around in this forum, when they should be over in the non-fiction section.


I know I've said this before many times, but I can't stress this enough: our job is to help people build and understand their fictional worlds. It is NOT to tell people that their fictional world can't exist. That kind of thinking is completely antithetical to what the art of geopoesy is all about and is extremely unwelcoming, especially to newer users. It also fosters a dreadful culture of noncreativity here, perhaps most especially for us older users who find that we have to constantly struggle against those attitudes.


Our job is simple: we are to take the querent's world as it is described, not as we would wish it to be described, not as we would think it must be as viewed through the lens of real world science, but as the querent has described it and to work with that.


For the record, I voted to reopen your query for two reasons: first, on reading it, I found it to be sufficiently clear and detailed that someone who knows the science and the maths (and it open minded enough to accept the fictional reality) ought to be able to answer. Also, since you got a couple really good answers, including ones with numbers and squiggly maths symbols, it's pretty clear to me that others agreed that the question was sufficient.


Secondly, I felt it important to voice opposition to the uber realists.

If you're going to make up your own rules, then why ask?

If they work despite whatever laws saying they should not then, quite obviously, they will have whatever effect you want them to have. There is no way to actually compute the effect of something which cannot happen.

These are examples of two comments written by vote to closers. I ask: if these are the attitudes you consistently bring to this forum, when faced by fantastic irrealia, why are you even here?

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  • $\begingroup$ It's not that easy to compare the issue (prior to the accepted answer) to the general problem with ultra-realism. The querent asked people what it would happen under physics rules all while explicitly telling to "forego any real-world rule which prevent this to make happen". This is a strong contradiction : What should we follow? Removing a good chunk of real-world physics to make "naive but believable" calculations (from AlexP's comment, refused straight by the querent yet somehow accepted as best answer), or our real-world physics which indeed give a sad answer? $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    May 1 at 17:59
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    $\begingroup$ @Tortliena --- The best we can do with any query here is to accept as given whatever the OP presents as factual for the world. In this case we have to accept that a mini nuke exists and functions as described on the box. If that means removing a good chunk of real world physics, then so be it. If we impose real world physics, then we might as well rename this forum Scientific Speculation. No, we're here to work with worldbuilders of all stripes, including those who may not be able to articulate exactly what they want! In this case, yes, the (cont) $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    May 2 at 4:51
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    $\begingroup$ (cont) naive but believable calculation is what's needed. If the OP both rejects and accepts that concept, well, that's not my issue! I'd still say that the query was closed for the wrong reason; and I'd still stand by my own comment that it is sufficiently clear and sufficiently detailed to provide an answer. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    May 2 at 4:54
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I voted to reopen. Although you already have an accepted answer, so I'm not sure how much more attention it will get, I do think there are more aspects to the question that could be explored, e.g. what it would mean for the "neutron bomb" aspect of nuclear explosions at that scale (continuing with the author's insistence that in his world, the laws of physics allow nukes of this scale to still go boom). i.e., off the top of my head, the smallest nuclear explosion pretty well kills everything within several miles radius due to neutron radiation. Would a 1/72nd scale nuke still have the same radius but with 1/72nd the concentration of radiation? Or would the lethal radiation radius decrease as well? I have no idea. The world may never know.

More to the point, it is a worldbuilding question and is fundamentally on-topic, does not need more detail or clarity for an answer, and I disagree with the close reasons.

P.S. the comments in the answers also show that the application of the math isn't so clear that we should assume the asker knows it. "You're smart enough to not need to ask this question therefore we are closing it" is a weird flex, bros, and I frown upon it.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the reopen vote. It seems like WBSE has this fever of wanting to shoot down questions that stray from realism a bit or that are 'too easy' to answer. It is sad to be brutality honest. $\endgroup$ May 1 at 16:44
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    $\begingroup$ @ConanHighwoods Yeah, one of my regular disagreements seems to be on how specific a question needs to be. Some want it to be VERY specific. You nail down every detail or they will VTC. In my opinion, this is unfair to the asker and ruins the value for other people. e.g. the satyr question. Do we make him fill in every detail about satyr life in his world before we touch it? Or just give a generally useful answer that could be applied to many worlds and askers with similar questions? I vote the latter: it's more useful for future askers and is more what SE wants, as a site. $\endgroup$
    – JamieB
    May 1 at 18:06
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    $\begingroup$ (Also, incidentally, it is maddening that sometimes askers DO nail down every detail, and then get VTC for "lacks focus". Honestly it feels like VTCs are sometimes intentionally trying to sabotage the usefulness or friendliness of SE.) $\endgroup$
    – JamieB
    May 1 at 18:12
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    $\begingroup$ @JamieB Do you mean this question? I'd personally just confirm that it's the traditional depiction of satyres. This and that they're interested in terms of practicability, not complex stuff like economy. But yes, it sounds alright despite its very short length. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    May 1 at 18:18
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Sorry, this is still unclear

As JBH pointed out in comments :

What I don't understand is why dividing the consequences of known detonations by 72 isn't enough to solve your problem? If I recall, the Tsar Bomba had a blast radius of about 20 miles. Reduce the Tsar Bomba by a factor of 72 and the blast radius becomes 0.278 miles or about 1500 feet. Doesn't that solve your problem?

I don't understand the underlying reason of your question either, especially with the answer you accepted as best. Seeing you already set it's 1/72th the power of another bomb, we trust you are smart to make this formula come to reality (it would likely not be kind from us otherwise 🦋). Moreover, the fact you looked at the variety of nuclear bombs is a proof that you searched -and found!- mineable data to make these calculations a reality.

Then, if you know the formula to use and the data of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, what actually prevented you to make the last step towards the solution? Said differently, what would have we been able to provide that you couldn't have on your own?

To make an analogy, it's like if you had the ingredients, tools and recipe to make delicious pancake batter, but still asked how to make it. This doesn't make sense for us : you just have to put the eggs 🥚, milk 🥛 and flour in the blender as per the instructions, what is stopping you from doing so? Is there something we don't know?

This symptom happens generally because we're missing key elements to your question, that it couldn't be that easy; In other words, that your question could use a little more explanation of your issue so we don't actually miss your target.

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    $\begingroup$ What, just flat what?!?! Ok, let us say that even if I could do this own my own without problem(I cannot), it is still useful to ask in case an answerer has more that you did not considered, or maybe corrected a mistake that you somehow made. Regardless, this does not make the question unclear, it just means that you think my question is trash and want it closed for Gob knows whatever reason. $\endgroup$ May 1 at 16:32
  • $\begingroup$ @ConanHighwoods As the French expression says that you don't lure flies with vinegar, you won't get anywhere if you react that way. Take some time to relax, then read again : Where did I say your question was trash? $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    May 1 at 17:15
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, I should have used another word, BUT, I have had users basically call my question trash(not this one, but one about how much a 6 inch person can carry). And this is not me be being grumpy, just me stating the facts as I have experienced and can surmise. $\endgroup$ May 1 at 18:20
  • $\begingroup$ @ConanHighwoods Sorry to read that. Know that no question is silly in my opinion, though sometimes they do puzzle me out. A lot of people ask questions which totally miss what they actually want to know : they ask whether they should add lots of salt in their pancake batter, while their (non-told) goal was actually to cook salted pancakes (for instance this pancake). An answer to this goal would have been then to use buckwheat flour for instance, not empty your salt shaker.[...] $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    May 1 at 18:41
  • $\begingroup$ [...]That's kinda the issue I was rising here. Your question looked to simple to not hide something underneath... But well, sometimes you do have to ask surprisingly simple questions ^^. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    May 1 at 18:41
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Let's figure out what is your question

Drawing heavily on AlexP's comment to the original question, if we were looking at a conventional explosive - for example, a satchel charge - then a 1/72 scale example will have (1/72)^3 the volume/explosive mass of the original. So, we simply divide original mass by (1/72)^3 and we have the yield. For example, a human 16 kg satchel charge would translate to approximately 0.043 g of cockroach-scaled satchel charge. (Actually, it would be hard to build a detonator at that scale, but let's ignore that for now.)

You have stated to ignore the physics that prevent nuclear weapons being built at such a small scale, and (possibly) want to know the yield of a Hiroshima (16 kton yield) device if magically scaled down to cockroach size. Which gives a yield of 43 kg of TNT.

So, there are three options that I can see:

  1. You are asking us to multiply 16,000 by (1/72)^3. Answer: 42.8, I'm rounding to 43.
  2. You are asking us how much damage 43 kg of TNT would do to an unspecified mansion/house. Answer: I need to know more about the mansion/house and what it is made of. I can take a reasonable stab at this with sufficient information (I have conducted demolitions involving greater amounts of explosive back in the distant past), although it's starting to look like a real-world rather than a worldbuilding question.
  3. You are asking us something else that I and at least five other experienced users with close-vote privileges cannot work out.

I understand from the way you have asked this question and responded to Tortliena's meta answer here that you are frustrated that people are not "getting it". I am trying to step out how it looks to me so you can clarify exactly what you are asking or, possibly, work out the answer yourself.

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  • $\begingroup$ I am asking you to give me the damage a 1/72 scale working nuke would do. $\endgroup$ May 2 at 11:29
  • $\begingroup$ Ehh, asking about what the house is made of seems like going out of your way to demand details that almost certainly aren't needed to answer the gist of the question and is the kind of thing I find annoying on WB in general. We don't want that level of detail. Generalizing the answer makes it more useful for others, too. "I didn't understand the question though lots of other people did" is not a close reason, and only needing 5 people out of thousands of viewers to think that way is a genuine Stack Exchange problem which you contributed to here. $\endgroup$
    – JamieB
    May 18 at 21:53

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