WATCH THIS: What happens when you detonate a nuke underground

In 1936, Keynes (not entirely seriously) wrote that paying people to dig a hole, and then fill it back in again would be better than nothing at stimulating economic growth. But just as it’s only a matter of time before robots are scheduled to take our jobs and make humans redundant, even the entirely pointless endeavour of creating holes for no reason at all is best handled by machines.

I’m referring specifically to subsidence craters – holes made by detonating a nuclear bomb underground. As the video below shows, it’s about the most efficient way of creating a big hole known to man, and watching the ground just sink into the newly collapsed earth is something that just seems thoroughly unexpected, no matter how many times I watch it.

Nukes above ground also leave a crater, but by detonating the explosive below the surface, much of the energy is trapped, forcing the explosion’s focus downwards and ejecting soil upwards and outwards. The ideal depth of a nuclear bomb for the largest crater is between 125 and 175ft – any more and the crater size shrinks because the material can’t escape.

Let’s see another detonation from a different angle:

So nukes are better at digging holes than hundreds of humans with shovels. Filling them back in again, though… there’s still a role for us yet.

WATCH THIS NEXT: Every nuclear detonation mapped by country

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