I was reading this story-id request and it reminded me of story I read somewhere in the mid 90s to the early 2000s in an anthology. A scientist finds a way to explode the iron in the Earth's crust. I want to say that it was something like a Fission bomb, but with iron rather than Uranium. At the time, it reminded me of the story I'd heard of how, in early development of fission bombs, they always did air bursts because there was a fear that the nuclear reaction wouldn't stop, and might consume the rest of the Earth.

Anyhow, he reflects that, once the process is available, sooner or later, someone was going to use it, probably not a major government but a fringe organization or country who didn't care about the consequences. He considers destroying his research, but then reflects on an unhappy childhood, including a fair amount of bullying, and decides to publish.


2 Answers 2


Strongly reminiscent of "Judgement Day" by L. Sprague de Camp.

(this is actually more likely to be the answer)

In this one, the scientist muses about his life and how everyone was always mean to him, and then decides to release the research about how to cause iron to explode atomically anyway.

It took me a long time to decide whether to let the earth live. Some might think this was an easy decision. Well, it was and it wasn't. I wanted one thing, while the mores of my culture said to do the other.


My chain reaction uses iron, the last thing that would normally be employed in such a series. It's at the bottom of the atomic energy curve. Anything else can be made into iron with a release of energy, while it take energy to make iron into anything else.

Really, the energy doesn't come from the iron, but from the ... the other elements in the reaction. But the iron is necessary. It is not exactly a catalyst, as it is transmuted and then turned back to the iron again, whereas a true catalyst remains unchanged. But the effect is the same. With iron so common in the crust of the earth, it should be possible to blow the entire crust off with one big poof.


If I write up the chain reactions, the news will probably get out. No amount of security regulations will stop people from talking about the impending end of the world. Once having done so, the knowledge will probably cause the blowing up of the earth -- not right away, but in a decade or two. I shall probably not live to see it, but it wouldn't displease me if it did go off in my lifetime. It would not deprive me of much.


That decided me. There is one way I can be happy during my remaining years, and that is by the knowledge that all these bullies will get their some day. I hate them. I hate them. I hate everybody. I want to kill mankind. I'd kill them by slow torture if I could. If I can't, blowing up the earth will do. I shall write my report.

  • 1
    That does look very promising. Weirdly enough, it's being the harder one to find in the library...
    – FuzzyBoots
    Nov 3, 2017 at 13:54
  • 4
    I found a copy online. This is the right one.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Nov 3, 2017 at 13:56
  • 1
    Oddly, I have it in 2 collections - A Gun for Dinosaur, and Best of de Camp. Nov 3, 2017 at 13:56
  • 2
    Yeah. My library had neither of those, nor did I have ebook versions. But I found it on Google Books.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Nov 3, 2017 at 13:56
  • Perhaps you should include some evidence from the books to make your answer absolutely sure. Nov 4, 2017 at 10:08

Strongly reminiscent of "The Reunion" by Paul J. Nahin although some details differ.

In this story, the scientist discovers a foolproof way of predicting the location and strength of earthquakes.

It turns out that his class reunion is going to be right at the epicenter of a huge earthquake. After thinking about the bullying and humiliation he suffered at the hands of his classmates, he decides to wait on publishing his method until after the reunion.

  • Huh. My memory is stuck on the iron in the crust, but I've requested a book with this story from the library to see if maybe I am confusing details.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Nov 3, 2017 at 13:44

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