Study: Bruce Willis Cannot Save Us from Armageddon
August 9, 2012 9:39 PM
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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
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
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."
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RE: Great Movie
8/10/2012 5:16:38 PM
If there was an object that size orbiting in the Ort Cloud I doubt we would have seen it yet. Also considering at 1000km diameter as the assumption, it is only half the size of Pluto which is not longer considered a plant. It took a lot of searching to find Pluto, to find one half that size would not be easy, even once it started moving towards us. It takes several observations of the same portion of sky over several nights to spot non-stellar objects with such a low visual magnitude as this would have.
Another problem would be if it was coming in at us from the Sun side of the solar system relative to Earth. If that were the case it could be practically on top of us before it was spotted unless we have a sky survey program operated for orbit which we don't have yet.
Check here near the bottom of the page to see the count of Near Earth Asteroids currently known. That number changes pretty much on a weekly basis as more are discovered. There have been many listed there that passed within less than half the distance to the Moon and we still needed a telescope to see them. It is rather frightening to check that table often and see what is coming near on a regular basis.
RE: Great Movie
8/13/2012 1:06:29 PM
That's like saying a dwarf human is not a human. Regardless, "the size of Texas" was slang for "big" and not the actual size of the asteroid in "Armageddon."
Lastly, if an object that massive is comming, we're screwed, period. That's like getting hit by the moon. We're not going to be diverting moon mass objects anytime soon. Fortunately hits like that come once every 10 billion years. So we're probably good for a while. :>
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