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December 29, 2008

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Would it be possible to build a lock-less (and size-unlimited) canal through Panama, or does the terrain make that impossible?

Peter, with enough Irishmen and enough shovels, you can build a canal of any arbitrary size (limited only to the size of the largest available landmass).

This is a corollary to Brennan's Law of the Workshop (you can fit anything into anything else if you have a big enough hammer).

Peter, with enough Irishmen and enough dynamite, you can build a lock-less canal of any arbitrary size, limited only by the size of the landmass that you're digging through. This is a corollary to Brennan's Law of the Workshop (you can fit anything into anything else if you have a big enough hammer).

More seriously, a large portion of the waterway consists of Lake Gatun, which is something like 85 feet above sea level. Lockless means, in addition to the need to dig deeper (we're already dealing with a continental divide here), that you're basically emptying the country's freshwater reservoirs into the ocean.

Also, for some reason that I don't understand, sea level isn't really level-- it's higher on the Pacific side.

Hi, Peter. Dennis is right, a sea-level canal is technically feasible. But there are a lot of buts.

Let me go for another post on this one.

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