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?


closed as off-topic by David Z Jun 9 at 3:20

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  • $\begingroup$ 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 $1~000~000~000\text{m}^3$. $\endgroup$ – Ján Lalinský Jun 8 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 at 17:53
  • $\begingroup$ A simple google search - is this the purpose of this stack? $\endgroup$ – user207455 Jun 8 at 18:11
  • $\begingroup$ Related: How large would the steam explosion at Chernobyl have been? $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jun 8 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 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 at 3:22
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidZ IMO the last sentence answers OP's question $\endgroup$ – user1476176 Jul 5 at 6:46

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