Mad scientists through the ages have dreamed of holding the world hostage by threatening to destroy the whole thing, demanding riches, power and fame, and respect from their peers. But if you’re going to play this game yourself, you’d better do it right — and doing it right means doing your homework.
Destroying our planet is no easy task. Sure, you could bomb us back to the stone age, introduce a plague to wipe out all complex life or whip up some sort of nanomachine to completely eliminate the entire biosphere. But in all those cases, the rock we stand on would still remain, lifelessly circling the sun for billions of years to come.
So let’s be serious. If you want to destroy the planet, you have to really aim to destroy the actual planet.
Step 1: Get the math right
Our planet is held together by its own gravity. You can think of it like a massive, rocky onion. The gravity of the innermost core holds the next layer onto it. Then their combined gravitational attraction keeps the next layer glued. Then their total weight grips the next layer. I think you get the idea, but this process repeats until the entire might of the Earth — all 5.972 x 10^24 kilograms of it — holds you to your seat and attracts a thin atmosphere to top it all off.