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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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By siconik on 8/10/2012 11:18:48 AM , Rating: 5
LOL, we are seriously discussing science in the movie based on the premise that it is easier to teach a bunch of hydrological drill operators how to perfom unprecedented feats of space exploration than it is to teach life-long professional astronauts how to operate drilling equipment?

I wonder how that would work in other fields anyway...

Air Force commander: "We need more pilots to fly areal refueling tankers. Some idiot suggesting recruiting fighter and cargo pilots, when the obvious choice are... the New Jersey gas station attendants front that Shell on the turnpike, the real pros of the fueling game. Bring them in, stat!"

"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer

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