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A new study shows that the movie's idea of blowing up the asteroid is way off

If Bruce Willis' ability to destroy life-threatening asteroids put your mind at ease about the end of the world, here's a study to bring you back to reality.

Michael Bay's 1998 hit movie Armageddon depicted Bruce Willis and a team of oil drilling heroes setting off nuclear bombs on an asteroid that was rushing toward Earth, thus saving all of humanity from the end of the world -- aka Armageddon.

A class of physics students from the University of Leicester in the UK decided to look into whether this kind of scenario would ever be possible. The short answer is no, but they provided some evidence as to why.

To debunk this mystery, the class first gathered basic information about the asteroid itself (which were mentioned in the film), such as the total volume of the asteroid pieces, the clearance radius (radius of Earth plus 400 miles), its distance from Earth at detonation, the asteroid's pre-detonation velocity, and the density of the asteroid pieces.

Harry Stamper is not amused

Using this information, they created a formula to find the total amount of kinetic energy needed to blow the asteroid to smithereens. As it turns out, 800 trillion terajoules of energy would be needed to break the asteroid into two pieces, allowing it to bypass planet Earth. This means that any bomb used would have to be a billion times stronger than any bomb ever detonated on Earth.

FYI -- the largest bomb ever detonated on Earth was the Soviet Union's "Big Ivan," which was a 50 megaton hydrogen bomb that only had an energy output of 418,000 terajoules.

From there, issues arose with the time needed to detect the asteroid in order to be able to successfully blow it up. It would need to explode at the point in which it is detected at 8 billion miles.

"A series of assumptions must be made due to limited information in the film," said the class paper titled, 'Could Bruce Willis Save the World?' "First, the asteroid is approximated as a spherical object 1000km in diameter (the asteroid is quoted being the size of Texas) that splits into two equal-sized hemispheres. The asteroid in the film reaches a clearance either side of the Earth of 400 miles (640km) which is the assumed value for our calculation."

Source: Network World

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RE: All-go-no-quit big nuts Harry Stamper
By mfenn on 8/9/2012 11:04:59 PM , Rating: 2
Apparently Willis ad libbed that line too

By Brandon Hill (blog) on 8/9/2012 11:07:31 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, same thing I heard according to the DVD extras on the FX channel. They play it at least a couple times a month on that channel.

By bh192012 on 8/10/2012 1:02:35 PM , Rating: 2
and is "the size of Texas" is clearly slang and exaggeration. Like "the BLT I ate yesterday, was the size of Texas." Later in the movie they describe the damage it would do, and it's clearly not a (dwarf) planet made of iron. (That would turn the earth into 100% exploding lava.) The damn thing in the paper we're discussing would have a mass somewhere between Pluto and Mercury.

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