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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: Great Movie
By tng on 8/12/2012 1:49:50 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I wish they had used something far more relevant and realistic, like 99942 Apophis. A near-Earth asteroid that came damn close to hitting us last time around.
And according to the scientists who watch the NEOs Apophis will make another near earth pass in 2029 or 2039 (can't remember which). Six months after that, due to it's slight change in course due to Earths gravity on the first pass, it will come even closer and they still don't know if on that pass it will hit the Earth.

The Russian space agency has actually proposed a joint mission with NASA and the ESA to eliminate the threat somehow. They are taking it very seriously, we probably should be as well, cause now it the time, not 2 months before it may hit.


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