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Old 08-30-2012, 01:46 PM   #1
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Default Everybody Jump!

What would happen if everyone on earth stood as close to each other as they could and jumped, everyone landing on the ground at the same instant?
—Thomas Bennett (and many others)
This is one of the most popular questions submitted to this blog. It’s been examined before, including by a ScienceBlogs post and a Straight Dope article. They cover the kinematics pretty well. However, they don’t tell the whole story.

Let’s take a closer look.


At the start of the scenario, the entire Earth’s population has been magically transported together into one place.



This crowd takes up an area the size of Rhode Island. But there’s no reason to use the vague phrase “an area the size of Rhode Island”. This is our scenario; we can be specific. They’re actually in Rhode Island.



At the stroke of noon, everyone jumps.




As discussed elsewhere, it doesn’t really affect the planet. Earth outweighs us by a factor of over ten trillion. On average, we humans can vertically jump maybe half a meter on a good day. Even if the Earth were rigid and responded instantly, it would be pushed down by less than an atom’s width.
Next, everyone falls back to the ground.




Technically, this delivers a lot of energy into the Earth, but it’s spread out over a large enough area that it doesn’t do much more than leave footprints in a lot of gardens. A slight pulse of pressure spreads through the North American continental crust and dissipates with little effect. The sound of all those feet hitting the ground creates a loud, drawn-out roar which lasts many seconds.


Eventually, the air grows quiet.


Seconds pass. Everyone looks around.



There are a lot of uncomfortable glances. Someone coughs.


A cell phone comes out of a pocket. Within seconds, the rest of the world’s five billion phones follow. All of them—even those compatible with the region’s towers—are displaying some version of “NO SIGNAL”. The cell networks have all collapsed under the unprecedented load.


Outside Rhode Island, abandoned machinery begins grinding to a halt.


The T. F. Green airport in Warwick, Rhode Island handles a few thousand passengers a day. Assuming they got things organized (including sending out scouting missions to retrieve fuel), they could run at 500% capacity for years without making a dent in the crowd.




The addition of all the nearby airports doesn’t change the equation much. Nor does the region’s light rail system. Crowds climb on board container ships in the deepwater port of Providence, but stocking sufficient food and water for a long sea voyage proves a challenge.


Rhode Island’s half-million cars are commandeered. Moments later, I-95, I-195, and I-295 become the sites of the largest traffic jam in the history of the planet. Most of the cars are engulfed by the crowds, but a lucky few get out and begin wandering the abandoned road network.


Some make it past New York or Boston before running out of fuel. Since the electricity is probably not on at this point, rather than find a working gas pump, it’s easier to just abandon the car and steal the new one. Who can stop you? All the cops are in Rhode Island.


The edge of the crowd spreads outward into southern Massachusetts and Connecticut. Any two people who meet are unlikely to have a language in common, and almost nobody knows the area. The state becomes a patchwork chaos of coalescing and collapsing social hierarchies. Violence is common. Everybody is hungry and thirsty. Grocery stores are emptied. Fresh water is hard to come by and there’s no efficient system for distributing it.


Within weeks, Rhode Island is a graveyard of billions.


The survivors spread out across the face of the world and struggle to build a new civilization atop the pristine ruins of the old. Our species staggers on, but our population has been greatly reduced. Earth’s orbit is completely unaffected—it spins along exactly as it did before our species-wide jump.


But at least now we know.

Attached Thumbnails
Everybody Jump!-everybody_jump_standing.png   Everybody Jump!-everybody_jump_map1.png   Everybody Jump!-everybody_jump_jumping.png   Everybody Jump!-everybody_jump_talking1.png   Everybody Jump!-everybody_jump_talking2.png  

Everybody Jump!-everybody_jump_map2.png   Everybody Jump!-everybody_jump_earth.png  
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Old 08-30-2012, 02:09 PM   #2
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Sorry, couldn't resist it...
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Old 08-30-2012, 02:19 PM   #3
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Just another reason not to live in Rhode island.
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Old 08-30-2012, 02:31 PM   #4
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I know I'm being extremely pedantic here, and missing the point of the story, but...


...if you begin the scenario by postulating that everyone could be magically transported into Rhode Island, it's logically inconsistent to later assume that those same people must, for some unexplained reason, return to their homelands via non-magical transportation.
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Old 08-30-2012, 02:40 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mgeoffriau View Post
I know I'm being extremely pedantic here, and missing the point of the story, but...


...if you begin the scenario by postulating that everyone could be magically transported into Rhode Island, it's logically inconsistent to later assume that those same people must, for some unexplained reason, return to their homelands via non-magical transportation.
The transporter relies on electricity, which got shut off when every single power plant in the world became unmanned.

Come on, dude. Keep up.
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Old 08-30-2012, 02:41 PM   #6
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Wait, magic runs on electricity? How did Merlin do it?
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Old 08-30-2012, 02:50 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mgeoffriau View Post
...if you begin the scenario by postulating that everyone could be magically transported into Rhode Island, it's logically inconsistent to later assume that those same people must, for some unexplained reason, return to their homelands via non-magical transportation.
The whole population of earth was transported to Rhode Island by a technology sufficiently advanced that it was indistinguishable from magic from the point of view of the observers on earth.

Specifically, this technology was a Star Trek-style transporter possessed by an alien race who enjoy performing sociological experiments on a planetary scale, and have no qualms about using pre-warp civilizations as test subjects.

As is common practice among sociologists, the true nature of the observation being made was necessarily obscured from the subject under test, in order to avoid bias. As such, the "what would happen to earth if everyone jumped?" experiment was constructed as subterfuge, to disguise the true nature of the observation in which the aliens were truly interested- how would all of mankind react to suddenly being transported to Rhode Island?

Thus, it is not that the population cannot be re-transported back to their individual places of origin, but rather that doing so would invalidate the whole experiment in the first place.
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Old 08-31-2012, 08:19 AM   #8
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Is the heart of all the worlds technology (aka Electricity and the powerplants that provide it) so weak and complicated that they cannot run without someone for the minute it would take for everyone to jump?

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Old 08-31-2012, 09:17 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Perez View Post
Specifically, this technology was a Star Trek-style transporter possessed by an alien race who enjoy performing sociological experiments on a planetary scale, and have no qualms about using pre-warp civilizations as test subjects
See, the importance of the Prime Directive is demonstrated, YET AGAIN.
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Old 08-31-2012, 09:48 AM   #10
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As long as you were along the edge of the masses of people, it sounds like this could be a pretty fun scenario. Get out in front of the crowds, find the right car(s), and that would make for an awesome cross country trip. Wouldn't be too tough to be in San Diego the next day.
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Old 08-31-2012, 01:03 PM   #11
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Yes, but if you're in the other 6.99 Billion, You're focked.
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Old 08-31-2012, 05:56 PM   #12
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dammit joe, damn you for making my work day interesting.
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Old 08-31-2012, 08:59 PM   #13
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I am still in shock to learn that the entire world population can fit inside Rhode Island.
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Old 09-01-2012, 06:40 PM   #14
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Joe must have picked up some good **** while traveling.

...and I too was surprised that the world population could fit into Rhode Island.
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Old 09-01-2012, 07:19 PM   #15
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the world really isnt that overpopulated, so it doesn't suprise me. But this was the best read of the month out of all the GOP crap that seems to flood my literary eyes.
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