RHJunior wrote:... and have them working like hell on a countermeasure.
Beyond that, there's nothing you can do--- and even then you're only buying time. If one scientist discovered it, another soon will as well.... especially if the materials in question really is dirt-common.
OH, yeah! As someone pointed out long ago, Mother Nature is a blabbermouth.
With that much power at his disposal you're lucky if the scientist or one of the dozens of disgruntled interns who helped him doesn't just grab some stuff off the shelf at the hardware store and hold the world hostage.....
Especially if you start killing 'em, and don't get them all.
"Liters ==> planet buster"... that's a rather interestingly large energy source. Assuming density = that of water, and based on the fact that one megaton of blast = 47 grams of matter converted to energy, we're taking one liter of stuff converted completely into energy being ... oh, approximately 20 megatons of blast. We tested bombs bigger than that. The Soviet "Tsar Bomba" test was, what, 80 MT?
Volcanic eruptions (Mt. St. Helens, Tambora) have been much bigger than that, and even extinction-level asteroid impacts, like Chixlub Dinosaur-Bane, were many times bigger than that, and didn't constitute planet-busting.
So this stuff would have to be producing energy output orders of magnitude more energy than total conversoin of matter to energy. Neat trick, that. Were they somehow tapping energy out of interbrane space?
On the flip side, its use as a rocket propellant could literally jump-start the space race all over again.
Oh, yeah... Here's where it's really interesting
Even with total conversion, even with a magical conservation-of-momentum drive converting mass directly into kinetic energy of your ship, you can't approach very close to the speed of light. At .87c, your kinetic energy is equal to the rest mass energy of your ship.
UNLESS -- your ship is, somehow, externally powered. Beam propulsion, or, in the case of the McGuffin in this story, something that somehow releases a massively huge amount of energy from elsewhere.