Saturday, May 30, 2009

Digging a Well

Let us presume that you are a dwarf.

You live in a happy community of dwarves, all hanging out together in your underground demense, eating bread, swigging mead, and so on. (Dwarves do love their alcohol.)

But sometimes there comes a time when you need not beer - but water. For instance, water can be rather helpful in preparing alcohol! (Some might even argue, essential.) Conveniently, you and your fellow dwarves live near an ample supply of water - a great, rushing river. Actually, it's right above your tunnels. How nice!

But the river is aboveground, and dwarves aren't all that fond of daylight. If needed, you could tramp all the way up to the surface and over to the river to get a drink of water - but that's a pain, and also more than a bit unsanitary! (Drinking directly from the river, eh?) Not a good solution.

You are a dwarf. You build things. You dig things. You can solve this problem. You can solve it... dwarvenly.

So, first problem is that the water is aboveground. So: dig a great big pipe for the water to drop into. Fwoosh! Now the water's underground - just where a dwarf likes it!

Now that you have the water, you need some way to get at it. The obvious solution - a mechanism for moving water upwards in small quantities - is the well. Just build a perfectly civilized well in your dwarf-tunnels, and you'll never go wanting for water ever again!

That would be because you will drown.

Remember: the river is above your dwarf-tunnels. (This is the problem that started all of this.) If you dig a hole beneath the river, water will fill it rather quickly, and, owing to the depth, become under a tremendous amount of pressure. When you dig a channel back up to your tunnels - for the well - the water will rush up and completely submerge your homes and families. It'll be very unpleasant! Also, soggy.

But why will this happen? It's most obvious if you look at simpler cases: digging a tunnel straight down from the river, or down and then into your tunnels from the side. In those cases, it's easy to see that the water will naturally rush down and fill the area. But the laws of fluid dynamics state that this will happen no matter what shape you dig your tunnels in. If you dig them directly, in a u-shape (as with our proposed well), or in some sort of maze of twisty passages, all alike, the water will still seek its own level - filling everything lower than that! (I.e., dwarfland.)

Conclusion to this poignant morality tale: Water is dangerous when you're underground! Also, fluid dynamics are nifty.

Vaguely inspired by Dwarf Fortress, which I haven't played in months. So I'm not sure why I was inspired by it. I blame wells.


Calvacadeofcats said...

what a strange circumstence

Calvacadeofcats said...

what a strange circumstence