In he HBO TV miniseries Chernobyl, they talk about a cistern holding 7000 cubic meters of water. That is the content of Loch Ness, the deepest lake in the UK. Would the Chernobyl reactor really hold that much water?

  • $\begingroup$ According to wikipedia, Lochness has volume $7.5 \text{km}^3$, not 7500 $\text{m}^3$. One $\text{km}^3$ is cube $1000~\text{m}~\times1000~\text{m}~\times1000~\text{m}$, that is $1~000~000~000\text{m}^3$. $\endgroup$ Jun 8 '19 at 17:50
  • $\begingroup$ @JánLalinský Perhaps convert comment to an answer so we don't have another question hanging without answers. $\endgroup$
    – StephenG
    Jun 8 '19 at 17:53
  • $\begingroup$ A simple google search - is this the purpose of this stack? $\endgroup$
    – user207455
    Jun 8 '19 at 18:11
  • $\begingroup$ Related: How large would the steam explosion at Chernobyl have been? $\endgroup$ Jun 8 '19 at 18:21
  • $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off topic because it doesn't appear to be about physics. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Jun 9 '19 at 3:20

Wikipedia puts the Loch Ness total volume at a total of 7.4 cubic kilometers, not kilo(cubic meters). When expressed in cubic meters, the 'kilo' also gets exponentiated: $$ 1\:\mathrm{km}^3 = 1 \,(1000\:\mathrm m)^3 = 10^9\:\mathrm m^3. $$ This error in your calculation means that you are off by a factor of a million, i.e. Loch Ness is 1,000,000 times larger than (the stated size of) the Chernobyl cistern.

Generally, a volume of $V=7,000\:\rm m^3$ isn't all that big. As a rough estimate, take the cubic root, and you'll be left with $$ L = V^{1/3} \approx 20\:\rm m, $$ i.e. it's the volume of a cube with twenty meters to each side. That size is reasonable for a large building, not a large lake.

  • $\begingroup$ I don't really think this answers the question that the OP was asking (even though it does address why they probably thought to ask the question in the first place) $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Jun 9 '19 at 3:22
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidZ IMO the last sentence answers OP's question $\endgroup$ Jul 5 '19 at 6:46

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