Gaia's Wasp is the first book of the Sci-Fi Trilogy Gaia's Wasp.
Wasp is a romance, but not a squishy one. It takes place partly in a primitive space ship called Unexpected Finger.
Drat, spoilers already. But never fear, my plot synopses always leave out the parts that matter. Also the adjectives.
Let's start simple. Finger was a spaceship that weighed four thousand metric tons. Four thousand tons is about the mass of a modern coast-guard cutter, and twice the launch weight of the Space Shuttle. It is also the weight of a boxcar full of gold, according to some guy in the book. But he didn't show his work, because math in a romance would be unromantic.
Here is the math.
Okay you have to be wondering why I am showing you math.
Because facts change everything. If you get that, you will get Wasp.
Here we go. Gold is almost twice as dense as lead, weighing in at an impressive 1.9 ×104 kg/m3. So a 4000-ton nugget would occupy a volume of (4×106kg) / (1.9×104kg/m3) = 200 m3.
Is that comparable to a boxcar? Yes. At 200 cubic meters, the volume of a F.E.N. (Finger-Equivalent Nugget) is near the midpoint of common boxcars. A 50-ft short car holds 150m3, while an 86-ft auto car holds 283m3.
There it was, the first math. Slightly boring (okay more than slightly) but I promise, Finger's kinetic energy is coming up soon. In the meantime, here is a picture from Dandelion Slap (Gaia's Wasp Part 2) which you can click for hi-res.
Back to the subject: One boxcar is just not that impressive. If Finger rammed the Earth, maybe it would just burn up in the atmosphere.
Did I say Finger rammed the Earth? I did not mean to say that. And besides it probably would not hurt us, because I heard our atmosphere is equivalent to three feet of solid lead.