What If All Metals on Earth Became Liquid?
You’re sitting in the car, waiting for the traffic light to turn green. The temperature’s so high today it seems the city is about to melt. You look at the traffic light and notice it’s deforming. Drops are dripping down from it.
You don’t believe this is really happening, so you’re rubbing your eyes with your palms and find your silver ring is slowly flowing down your finger. You scream in fear because you expect the molten metal to scorch your skin, but nothing happens. The traffic light completely drains down.
You want to press the gas pedal, but there’s only some kind of liquid under your feet. The seat belt unfastens by itself, and the car slowly sags. You open the door, and it falls off.
You run out of the car and watch it slowly melt. The wheels, the blue body, the internal details, the motor — everything turns into liquid. Only the tires, plastic things, seats, car carpets, and glass remain intact. You hear screams behind you, and you see all the cars around are melting. You want to record it on video, but your phone has become liquid, too. You take out the remaining glass screen and the plastic case.
All the metals around are melting. Streetlamps and bus stops turn into a homogeneous mass. Suddenly, it gets completely silent. Car horns, the noise from the highway, sirens, exhaust fumes, and engine roars — all of it has disappeared. Rivers of liquid metal are flowing down the streets, and you’re in the center of this. The metal stream carries away the tires and other car details. It knocks people down.
Then, a low, loud noise sounds through the city. People are running out of malls, libraries, cafes, homes, business centers. Puddles form around all houses. Every building is equipped with metal structures, rebars, and fittings. Now it’s all melting and seeping through the concrete. Metals are melting slowly, so people have time to evacuate from the city.
All the buildings are collapsing and raising dust in the air. Sewerage hatchways are flowing downwards. The city’s sewer system is melting. Water mixed with liquid metal comes out on the streets. People are swimming in this mass. They’re using hundreds of thousands of rubber tires as lifebuoys. Someone’s even riding a surfboard.
Liquid coins are flowing out of your wallet. Hundreds of ATMs around the city are melting. Millions of paper banknotes are drowning in metal flows. All the gold reserves become liquid and paint the city with an orange color. Thousands of letters float on melting mailboxes. All data centers, computers, and servers become a part of the huge metal stream.
Instantly, all the digital information in the world disappears. Televisions, game consoles, amusement theme parks are melting. Radio receivers, telephones, electrical wires, cables, and Internet connections disappear. Millions of tons of metal fill the street, then pour into rivers and oceans. The water is getting a dark silver shade. In one day, people lose all modern technologies and return to the Stone Age.
Metal rivers flood cities. People run to the countryside. Bicycles, motorcycles, and other forms of transportation are gone. City residents are deprived of electricity and all things that are powered by electricity. It’s not safe to be in a natural area, either. Metals are hidden in the mountains and underground. Now they turn into liquid and cause deformation inside the soil and stone.
Some mountains are ruined like a melting hill of ice cream. Earthquakes shake the ground all over the world. Seismic activity wakes up volcanoes. They splash out a huge amount of lava and cover the sky with ash. Volcanic magma contains a lot of molten metals. But now, they don’t solidify. Pools of cold lava are formed around volcanoes.
People learn to live anew in such conditions. They build houses out of plastic and wood, using ropes and glue to connect the materials. You can now easily start a fire with wood and stone. People burn glass to make it stronger. They make axes and other tools from high-strength glass and stone. But such items quickly deteriorate and break.
You learn how to build dugouts. You drip the soil and use wooden boards to support the ceilings and walls. Almost the entire population of the planet lives underground since it helps keep warm during winter. But it’s not possible to live like this for a long time because of frequent earthquakes.
Wooden chariots appear on the roads again. Problems with the harvest begin. Metals seep into the soil, and this disrupts the growth of the crops. Many people live near the ocean. During earthquakes, they get on wooden rafts or inflatable boats and sail away from the shore. To travel long distances, people fly in balloons. You can even get to a neighboring city if the wind doesn’t take you away.
It’s impossible to send a letter to another country since there are no more railways. People make long walking journeys and live like nomads. You use pigeon mail to communicate with friends living in the neighboring city. It’s difficult to get food and live in winter without electricity, but there is hope.
Scientists can’t find out the reason for the change of metals without technical equipment. But they put forward the theory that metals have changed at the molecular level. The molecules moved away from each other, and this caused melting. To bring everything back, you need to connect the metal molecules closer to each other. And people need an electric current for this.
Fortunately, there’s enough of it in the sky. Every day, lightning flashes somewhere. You just need to catch it. Scientists create plastic containers and fill them with liquid metal. All containers are connected by a rubber wire with molten copper inside. Copper is one of the best conductive metals.
On a huge field, people place hundreds of such containers. Clouds are gathering, a strong storm begins. The lightning strikes the ground several times and finally hits the container. It comes through a copper wire and distributes the charge to all other tanks. A chain reaction begins. When the storm ends, people discover containers with solid metal. It worked!
Now we have a couple of tons of ordinary metals. Scientists send mail pigeons to spread the news. Soon, people around the world are trying to “catch” the lightning. The resulting metals are enough to build minimal equipment for a power plant. Scientists use electricity from power plants to turn metals into powerful magnets. Liquid iron, copper, and aluminum seeped deep into the ground and the ocean. To get them out of there, people build metal mining stations.
First, they make a deep hole in the ground, then lower a huge magnet there. Liquid metals pass through the soil and stick to the magnet. People use the extracted materials to build new magnetic stations. They install them all over the world. Huge magnets appear in the seas, rivers, and oceans. People pump all the liquid metal out of the water and make it solid with an electric charge. Then, people create metal tools — axes, saws, machine tools, anvils, spokes, and wheels.
Then, they make metal fittings and frames for houses. Life is slowly improving. People make chains, bicycles and rebuild factories. They restore railways and launch the first trains. A new industrial era has come again. Iron, nickel, and aluminum are more expensive than gold because of a huge demand for them. Also, separating liquid copper from liquid silver and other metal separating operations is a difficult task. This increases the price, too.
When solid metals become abundant, their price begins to fall. Previously, to get iron, people dug deep quarries and mines where they extracted iron ore. Now, metals are liquid, and they attract themselves thanks to magnetic forces. You can stick a long magnet in the ground in your backyard, and the next day it will be covered with iron. Easy metal mining accelerates technological growth.
Now, you don’t need furnaces to melt steel or silver. You immediately get them in liquid form. You can pour metals into a jar and store them forever in liquid form. And an electric charge can make them solid.
The first planes and ships appear. The international export and import of goods are fully restored. But the fastest thing people restored is power lines and the Internet. In one century, humanity has managed to completely rebuild modern technologies.