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No Bomb Powerful Enough To Destroy an On-Rushing Asteroid, Sorry Bruce Willis

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the big-bomb dept.

Movies 352

coondoggie writes "Maybe it's the doom predictions about the end of the Mayan calendar this year, or maybe these guys are obsessed with old Bruce Willis movies. Either way a class of physics students from the University of Leicester decided to evaluate whether or not the premise of Willis' 1998 'Armageddon' movie — where a group of oil drillers is sent by NASA to detonate nuclear devices on an asteroid that threatens to destroy Earth — could actually happen. The students found it would take a bomb about a billion times stronger than the biggest bomb ever detonated on Earth."

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What do you mean OLD Bruce Willis movies (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40928223)

Armagedon is not that old at all.. uhmm.. ohmm...

Fuck, get of my lawn

Re:What do you mean OLD Bruce Willis movies (2)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928499)

Armagedon is not that old at all.. uhmm.. ohmm...

Fuck, get of my lawn

If you are talking about the original Armagedon [biblegateway.com] it is most certainly a case of "get off my lawn".

Re:What do you mean OLD Bruce Willis movies (5, Funny)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928673)

Fuck, get of my lawn

You want them to do both at the same time?
I'll assume the preferred order is in the order written.

Re:What do you mean OLD Bruce Willis movies (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928889)

Armagedon is not that old at all.. uhmm.. ohmm...

Fuck, get of my lawn

But Moonlighting [wikipedia.org] is. Now, get off mine.

Quoth North Korea (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40928229)

We have a bomb that big! OoooOOOOOooh!

'One Billion' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40928239)

Sounds like a great plot for an action comedy. What is the release date?

A billion times. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40928241)

The students found it would take a bomb about a billion times stronger than the biggest bomb ever detonated on Earth."

We have those!

Woa! (1)

Grindalf (1089511) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928245)

That's a chance that we'll have to take! :0)

not about destroying (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40928247)

is it me or did the class get it wrong, it was never about destroying an asteroid, it was about splitting it up in pieces or nudging it out of the earth direction

Re:not about destroying (4, Interesting)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928271)

is it me or did the class get it wrong, it was never about destroying an asteroid, it was about splitting it up in pieces or nudging it out of the earth direction

Exactly what I was thinking: Define "destroy". Do they mean completely vaporize or just something that will do the job?

Re:not about destroying (5, Interesting)

symes (835608) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928293)

Indeed. A small nudge, if applied when the asteroid is still some distance from Earth, could have a considerable impact on it's trajectory. That would make an interesting project, simulating the relationship between time to asteroid, payload, asteroid mass and what not to determine how quickly we would need to react.

Re:not about destroying (4, Interesting)

hazem (472289) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928787)

Arthur C. Clarke's book, "The Hammer of God" was about this exact topic. It featured all kinds of neat furistic technology, like making a huge detonation in the solar system to emit a huge burst of EM radiation to find dark asteroids, and trying to put a mass driver on an asteroid to nudge it off course. It also had a great depiction of a lunar marathon.

All in all, I thought it was a pretty enjoyable read.

Re:not about destroying (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40928471)

Also why not do a case study for thresholds where the bomb might be useful. An asteroid that threatens the planet may not be stopped, but something that could wipe out a metropolitan area and cause trillions of dollars of damage might be a size that could be. An asteroid on that scale may do less or no damage if it could be broken into small enough pieces before it hits the atmosphere.

Also anyone remember that Deep Impact mission with the copper slug slammed into an asteroid some years back? That inert chunk of metal also happened to be very close to the volume and mass of a common nuclear warhead in the U.S. arsenal. (Looking at those numbers, it doesn't appear too random.) It seems somebody was seriously considering the idea.

Re:not about destroying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40928569)

That is a scenario I also read about in the media, but does it really make sense to take care of such small asteroids, or is this just the result of the hype around armageddon? The chance that it hits a metropolitan region is very slim. The chance is 70% that it comes down over water, there is a chance that it will break up and most of the land area is only thinly populated.

Re:not about destroying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40928575)

Also why not do a case study for thresholds where the bomb might be useful. An asteroid that threatens the planet may not be stopped, but something that could wipe out a metropolitan area and cause trillions of dollars of damage might be a size that could be. An asteroid on that scale may do less or no damage if it could be broken into small enough pieces before it hits the atmosphere.

Or if it could be deflected onto some other, non-American metropolitan area, right? We all know that's what you mean; just come out and say it.

Re:not about destroying (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40928609)

Can't we just aim it at Redmond?

Re:not about destroying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40928741)

and nothing of value would be lost

Re:not about destroying (2)

pantaril (1624521) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928623)

is it me or did the class get it wrong, it was never about destroying an asteroid, it was about splitting it up in pieces or nudging it out of the earth direction

Indeed drilling a hole to the center of the asteroid and blowing it from inside is inefficient and stupid. The best way would be to aply force to the side of the asteroid, so its trajectory would change to non-coliding with earth. It can be some king of one-time explosion, or it could be small but perpetual force like ion-drive powered space-craft pushing to the side, or even series of mirrors orbiting the asteroid and reflecting sun-shine to its side for prolonged period of time.

See http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/03/201232110854436189.html [aljazeera.com] for some interestig ideas.

Re:not about destroying (4, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928721)

Indeed drilling a hole to the center of the asteroid and blowing it from inside is inefficient and stupid. The best way would be to aply force to the side of the asteroid, so its trajectory would change to non-coliding with earth.

I'd think that for a small body, the two are the same. A reason for drilling a deep hole first would be to get a much more precise vector for pushing the asteroid.
Sure, you lose a lot of energy that way, but you lose an awful lot with a surface blast too, where more than half the blast force won't hit the asteroid at all. There's no way of making a nuclear explosion into a shaped charge without using the environment to shape it.

Re:not about destroying (5, Insightful)

letherial (1302031) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928797)

That wouldnt be a good movie.

Its either.
A. Sir! we got a astroid that is going to hit earth with in 20 years.
          Good find private, now send up the ION maker and point at it for the next 15 years, that should move it away to safely pass by

OR
B. Sir we got a asteroid that will hit us in the next few months
          Good find private, we will nuke the bastard, but first we must make some realy cool ships, get a few heroes and they can go drill the hole in the asteroid and really get it good.

A is good if it realy happens, B is good for the movie theater...

Re:not about destroying (5, Informative)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928643)

If you'd read the article, you'd know that the calculation was to determine how powerful the explosion would need to be to split the asteroid in half so that the two pieces would pass by the earth. Basically, the same thing that was done in the movie. Only, in their calculation, the explosion occurred when the asteroid was still 8 billion miles away.

Re:not about destroying (1)

tinkerton (199273) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928765)

splitting up to pieces is a bad idea too. Many pieces will (generally speaking) be large enough to cause devastation, their direction will be unpredictable and the chances of getting hit will increase. You want to nudge it, and using atomic bombs for that is a bad idea. Again.

Easy now.. (1)

theheff (894014) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928253)

I'm not exactly for challenging the Department of "Defense" on this one.

Nothing new (1)

GauteL (29207) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928261)

It has been well known we can't just blow it up for a while. However all we need is to bump it off course. Something a very powerful nuclear bomb may be able to do

Re:Nothing new (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40928357)

Yeah, just get an archeologist, a reporter and a military commander on a shuttle and they'll fix it with two very small tactical nukes.

Re:Nothing new (3, Insightful)

tftp (111690) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928399)

You drill a hole in the asteroid and insert a nuclear device. Do not seal the hole. Explode the device. You get a volcano. Asteroid's material becomes the reaction mass (largely gases and small rocks.) Relatively small mass * relatively high speed = decent momentum. Repeat until satisfied. Call this project "Noiro."

Re:Nothing new (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40928439)

Or you could just paint one side of it white and let the sun push the asteroid away, but that doesn't include any explosions.

Re:Nothing new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40928631)

Or you could just paint one side of it white and let the sun push the asteroid away, but that doesn't include any explosions.

This only works when the asteroid does not keep rotating.

Re:Nothing new (2)

rts008 (812749) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928769)

Perfect excuse to develop and deploy Orion Drives [wikipedia.org] , IMHO.
I've been curious...

The problem has been detecting it in time.

Bruce still has a shot (2, Insightful)

erikkemperman (252014) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928265)

"The biggest bomb ever detonated on earth" is a damn sight smaller than the biggest one ever built... Just sayin'.

Re:Bruce still has a shot (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40928331)

The biggest one ever detonated, the so called "Tsar Bomba", was 50 megatons of TNT. It could have been made 100 MT, but was scaled back to reduce fallout, and was therefore a very clean bomb for its size.
There was however no point in building bombs of this size, so no one has attempted it since, opting instead for clusters of smaller bombs to carpet an area or using modern targeting to accurately take out small targets with great precision,
Bombs that big where shere lunacy and just a demonstration of power.

Re:Bruce still has a shot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40928429)

why would we detonate a bomb on earth, a bomb large enough to shift an asteroid's trajectory, anyway?

Re:Bruce still has a shot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40928445)

why would we detonate a bomb on earth, a bomb large enough to shift an asteroid's trajectory, anyway?

To fight global warming by nudging earth away from the sun?

Re:Bruce still has a shot (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928559)

why would we detonate a bomb on earth, a bomb large enough to shift an asteroid's trajectory, anyway?

To fight global warming by nudging earth away from the sun?

To be fair, a nuclear winter would probably do wonders to offset climate change... I welcome one for the improved skiing conditions.

Re:Bruce still has a shot (2)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928587)

Ugh. The moment we try that Im moving to Canada.

Re:Bruce still has a shot (5, Insightful)

Tore S B (711705) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928491)

Actually, there was a real, sensible (as things go in the field of nuclear deterrent) reason for them: The USSR did not at the time have anything that could deliver a payload with precision. Plus, they used big and slow bombers, which made it possible to intercept them. Thus, they employed a lesson from Ken Thompson in the future: "When in doubt, use brute force". :)

The design was not scaled down as such - it was a 100MT bomb; they simply substituted lead for U-238 in the tamper.

Re:Bruce still has a shot (2)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928597)

You're wrong. Just sayin'.

"The biggest bomb ever detonated on earth" is the biggest one ever built - the full yield version was never built.

Re:Bruce still has a shot (1)

Kynde (324134) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928653)

You're wrong. Just sayin'.

"The biggest bomb ever detonated on earth" is the biggest one ever built - the full yield version was never built.

Yep, that would be Tsar Bomba detonated over Novaja Zemlja in the sixties. Windows were broken as far as in Finnish and Norwegian north. Amazing and fascinating stuff.

how they did it (5, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928275)

I'm not sure why this is news, but here's what they calculated:

The students devised a formula to find the total amount of kinetic energy needed in relation to the volume of the asteroid pieces, their density, the clearance radius (which was taken as the radius of Earth plus 400 miles), the asteroid's pre-detonation velocity, and its distance from Earth at the point of detonation. Using the measurements and properties of the asteroid as stated in the film, the formula revealed that 800 trillion terajoules of energy would be required to split the asteroid in two with both pieces clearing the planet. However, the total energy output of Big Ivan "only comes to 418,000 terajoules. The asteroid is approximated as a spherical object 1000km in diameter

Re:how they did it (2, Informative)

loufoque (1400831) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928361)

I'm not a bomb geek but even I know that Big Ivan is not the largest bomb ever made.

Re:how they did it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40928395)

And you are wrong.

Re:how they did it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40928411)

As I recall, the most powerful bombs in the us was around 9 megatons, and they where dismantled a few years ago.

Re:how they did it (1)

pthisis (27352) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928703)

As I recall, the most powerful bombs in the us was around 9 megatons, and they where dismantled a few years ago.

The American B41s were ~25MT; the last ones were dismantled in 1976. They were never exploded, though. The biggest US explosion was 15 MT in the infamous Castle Bravo test--that bomb was only supposed to be 5MT and the test was supposed to be secret, but unexpected reactivity of one of the lithium isotopes made it go off at triple that, causing severe fallout problems and ensuring that there was no secrecy.

Re:how they did it (5, Informative)

subreality (157447) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928735)

The biggest that the US ever actually popped was Castle Bravo [wikipedia.org] . Design yield: 4-6Mt. Actual yield: 15Mt, resulting in the dry bit of island it was sitting on turning into a deep spot in the reef and destruction of the monitoring equipment two islands over, not to mention dropping fallout all over the local civilians. Oops. The Castle-* designs were weaponized into the Mk-17/Mk-21/Mk-24 with a 5-15 Mt range.

The biggest the US ever deployed was the B41 [wikipedia.org] , at a perfectly practical 25Mt.

Yields peaked in the 60s because the complete assemblies were huge and if you could only cart around one bomb on your plane or missile, it might as well be a big one. Since then the trend in big bombs has been toward the 0.5-1 Mt range, like the B83 [wikipedia.org] . The reason doesn't really have much to do with "arsenal reduction"; the real story is they figured out how to shrink midsize ones down to a much smaller package, and it's simply more efficient (more stuff blown up per kg of plutonium) to drop a half dozen 1Mt bombs in a pattern than to drop a single 25Mt one and having most of the energy end up in a stratosphere-bumping mushroom cloud.

Of course that Soviet triple-stage monster [wikipedia.org] takes the cake. There's simply no possible use for a larger one, even as a national dick waving status symbol. 50Mt is basically the most you can ever drop from a plane and live to tell about it, and you HAVE to drop it from a plane because a ground burst would create stupid amounts of fallout while not even being that impressive (air bursts work better); and no one's going to bother building a missile big enough to carry a 27,000 Kg firework just to show off. I hope.

So now you know, and knowing is how we get the next generation interested in one upmanship.

Re:how they did it (2)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928545)

Well, I am a bomb geek and Tsar Bomba (the bomb geeks name for Big Ivan), or at least the 50MT version, is in fact the largest bomb known to be ever made. Only a single 50MT device was ever assembled, and no full yield (100MT) was ever assembled.

Re:how they did it (1)

loufoque (1400831) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928573)

I had heard of it as Tsar Bomba, and didn't know Big Ivan was another name for it. My bad.

reading comprehension (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928599)

I'm not a bomb geek but even I know that Big Ivan is not the largest bomb ever made.

And that relates how to an article quoting the "biggest bomb ever detonated on Earth."

Which is most definitely Big Ivan.

Re:how they did it (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40928627)

Not sure if this is what you are talking about, but in The Fog of War (excellent piece of film, please watch it if you haven't) Robert McNamara claims (and quite emphatically at that) that during his tenure as Secretary of Defense, the US tested a 100MT device in the atmosphere.

It's true that he was getting on in years, but he nevertheless seemed to be more lucid than, say, most everyday people, and there doesn't seem to be much point to making such a thing up.

Re:how they did it (1)

stainlesssteelpat (905359) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928809)

Mod parent up.

No need to deflect it (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928579)

Why would we need to deflect it? The assumptions were that the movie was correct, not that the earth is rendered safe from planetary wide extinction. You wouldn't need to deflect the asteroid at all for that.

A sufficiently sized bomb drilled into the middle of the asteroid would with ease break it up into smaller chunks. All those chunks individually would still hit the planet, but if the chunks are sufficiently small you dramatically increase their surface area and the amount they burn up as they enter the atmosphere. The end result would be a few tsunamis eliminating a few coastal cities, maybe a nuclear disaster in Japan, and an otherwise enduring humanity.

Re:No need to deflect it (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928663)

You're describing Deep Impact [wikipedia.org] .

Re:No need to deflect it (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928701)

Because deflecting an asteroid that's far away from earth is easier than reliably blasting it to small enough bits.

Think of how much force it takes to nudge a cue ball away from its original destination. Compare with the force it takes to blast a rock to small bits.

If a big asteroid is already too close to nudge away, we're screwed.

Re:No need to deflect it (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928871)

You are begging the question.

You are making far too many assumptions with your argument.

A sufficiently sized bomb drilled into the middle of the asteroid would with ease break it up into smaller chunks.

A 'shaped charge' that exploits a weakness detected at farther away than we are currently able too, by magnitudes of order, are no help, realistically.

What we need to do, is fund advanced detection of these threats, if, and when, they are perceived by 'Joe Six-pack"; or make that happen...

I won't even bother with the rest of your assumptions, they are too ludicrous to even comment on, based on the first assumption.

Re:No need to deflect it (1)

CubicleView (910143) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928915)

I think you're basically arguing that it's better that the shotgun pointed at you from two foot away be loaded with shot instead of a deer slug.

Idiots! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40928287)

Have they never heard of the phrase "willing suspension of disbelief"?

Here's some news for them: the teenage mutant Ninja turtles weren't real either.

Re:Idiots! (1)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928311)

What? Next you're going to claim this photo is real! [photobucket.com]

Re:Idiots! (1)

Teknikal69 (1769274) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928315)

I agree with you and almost always get the same thought's especially watching mythbusters episodes recently, still like the show but I wish they would just leave movies alone.

Re:Idiots! (1)

Zaelath (2588189) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928391)

And in other news, failed hockey players can't play golf either.

The premise of the paper is quite narrowly defined (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928295)

The definition of "big enough" is apparently "big enough to split a 1000km diameter spherical asteroid in two, and with enough force that the trajectory of both pieces misses the earth". I haven't seen the movie - is that what they did?

It seems to me, though, that the goal should be to break up an approaching asteroid into small enough pieces so the atmosphere can do most of the dirty work for us. Deflecting the asteroid doesn't seem very feasible unless we detect it long before it approaches earth (and then there's the issue of reaching it...).

Not a good idea at all (4, Informative)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928487)

The last thing you want is lots of pieces - there's something called gravity which would cause them to re-agglutinate on the rest of the journey. Breaking up an asteroid takes far more energy than deflection, as should be obvious-despite the current illiteracy, it takes far less energy to brake a car than it does to break it up. Of course Hollywood wouldn't want deflection because there's nothing to see on screen - but deflecting it into a safe orbit would be much safer because you only have to predict the track of one object, not millions of small ones with different trajectories.

Re:Not a good idea at all (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928677)

it takes far less energy to brake a car than it does to break it up

That depends on how fast it's going. . .

Re:Not a good idea at all (1)

billyswong (1858858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928751)

it takes far less energy to brake a car than it does to break it up

That depends on how fast it's going. . .

True when the car is rock solid.

Great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40928309)

So what other plausible scenarios can there be to get Bruce Willis off this planet permanently?

Assignment in Space with Rip Foster (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40928323)

1950's juvenile science fiction novel with exactly that plot, but instead of trying to blow up the asteroid, they use small nukes to deflect its orbit slightly, sending it where they want it to go.

But It Wasn't an Asteroid in the Film! (0)

MaxiCat_42 (711203) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928329)

I seem to remember that the object in the film was a comet (which was starting to fall apart) and possibly a little bit more fragile than a rocky asteroid. Probably still require a hefty bomb though.

Phil.

Re:But It Wasn't an Asteroid in the Film! (2)

Chewbacon (797801) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928427)

There was an asteroid in the film. You're thinking of Deep Impact: the same movie, cornier, with Elijah Wood, the homely-looking love interest and a comet.

Quick! (1)

OhANameWhatName (2688401) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928333)

We ssoooo need to develop bigger bombs. What if the asteroid comes??

Obligatory Chuck Norris comment (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40928339)

Forget Bruce Willis, you just have to land Chuck Norris up there and have him stomp his foot once.

Sophia Loren wasn't built in a day (0)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928343)

or in a night. She is definitely one of the biggest shells ever made! There were always two big reasons to explode for her. (http://www.google.com/search?q=young+sophia+loren)

Sophia Loren (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928519)

Was far too classy ever to be mentioned on Slashdot.

Don't forget who directed the movie (4, Insightful)

bjdevil66 (583941) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928355)

Plot points based in hard science aren't exactly Michael Bay's MO...

Re:Don't forget who directed the movie (1)

Ardias (544478) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928571)

Good plots are not Michael Bay's strong points. Neither is understanding reality.

Who else is bad enough to turn a dramatic historic event like the Attack on Pearl Harbor into a less than mediocre movie?

Re:Don't forget who directed the movie (4, Funny)

robthebloke (1308483) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928851)

Plot points aren't exactly Michael Bay's MO...

FTFY

For those who don't RTFA. (5, Informative)

Bongoots (795869) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928369)

This is the real paper, coming in at only 2 pages it's a light read: https://physics.le.ac.uk/journals/index.php/pst/article/viewFile/390/243 [le.ac.uk]

You weren't going to RTFA anyway, now were you?..
--

P1_1 Could Bruce Willis Save the World?
Back A, Brown G, Hall B and Turner S
Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester, Leicester, LE1 7RH.
November 1st, 2011

Abstract
The film Armageddon (1998) puts forward the possibility of using a nuclear weapon buried deep within an Earth-bound asteroid to split the asteroid in two, each half clearing opposite sides of the Earth with only relatively minor damage. This article investigates the feasibility of such a plan and shows that even using the largest nuclear weapon made to date, the bomb comes over 9 orders of magnitude short of the yield required.

[...]

Re:For those who don't RTFA. (1)

Chewbacon (797801) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928481)

Perhaps this would work if the asteroid was already fractured and prone to shatter? Just a thought, but the chances of that are probably pretty slim.

Re:For those who don't RTFA. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40928675)

You'd still have to deflect the pieces from their current course, into two courses each missing the earth. That's what most of the energy is needed for in the calculation.

Hollywood Math (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928385)

We've known for a long time that the guys in Hollywood have been pretty bad at math, though usually they are only out by a factor of a million.

Could we do something anyway? (1)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928417)

Scenario : there is 5 years warning, and the asteroid is 10 km is diameter (the size of the one that wiped out the dinosaurs).

Could we deflect it? Assume that the mission to intercept the asteroid reached it 2 years before impact.

I kind of feel like there would be a way. In this scenario, ALL the resources are going to solving the problem. At least 50 trillion dollars or more. Most other activities are suspended in the western world and china. A salt-water fission rocket or something ought to be powerful enough to deflect the asteroid.

Re:Could we do something anyway? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40928505)

In this scenario, ALL the resources are going to solving the problem. At least 50 trillion dollars or more. Most other activities are suspended in the western world and china.

That's pre-climate-change-denial thinking, bro.

No worries! (3, Funny)

EzInKy (115248) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928419)

Everyone knows that in such an event Sam will open a hyperspace window and the asteroid will fall right through.

"You know, you blow up one sun and suddenly everyone expects you to walk on water."
          Lt. Col. Samanth Carter

Re:No worries! (1)

Merls the Sneaky (1031058) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928509)

You only need to open hyperspace windows if the asteroid has a high concentration of naquadah, else a Mk IX gate buster aught to vaporize everything in a 100 mile radius. So that's solved for anything up to 100 miles.

In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40928465)

Anti-Virus company proposes code for attacking any alien motherships which may appear over the US, and Korean graphics painters are put on alert to draw a huge steam roller in case Judge Doom somehow managed to survive that cauldron of dip....

Doesn't matter (1)

alzoron (210577) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928497)

Blowing up asteroids is oldschool. All the cool kids these days just open a hyperspace window and fly them safely through the planet and then conveniently forget that we have a massive object rich with valuable minerals in orbit around Earth for the rest of the series.

Catch 22 (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928513)

If we invented a bomb that big we would probably be in more danger than we are from an asteroid hit.

your moms chilly bombed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40928515)

its da biggest bomb ever i tell yea

Limits on H-bombs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40928535)

Correct me if I'm mistaken but as far I as can remember there's no upper limit to the power of an H-bomb besides the amount of hydrogen you're willing to use. Or it might have to be deuterium. Whichever it is, I'm quite confident there's a billion times more of that on earth than has ever been used. That also raises new questions about yield and such which the one-and-a-half page article doesn't get into. Would yield go up at low gravity? Would a bigger boom make for higher yield? The intersting question here would be what kind of bomb would do it, not that Armageddon isn't scientifically accurate.

I'm aware of the other ideas for astroid divertion, pulling it into a different orbit using a massive satellite. But if the Armageddon scenario would unfold, which seems more likely than early detection the way the world is spending money on that, would it be possible to blow it up?

Shocked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40928539)

I'm shocked, shocked to read that one of the premisses of the film Armageddon is scientifically incorrect !

New Bomb Powerful Enough... , Says Bruce Willis (3, Funny)

Fusselwurm (1033286) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928557)

... or so I misread the headline at first glance.

Biggest Bomb Ever? (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928605)

I bet we could shift an asteroid's course if we packed up all the copies of Battlefield Earth and launched them against it.
/Though I personally think the Mission Earth series was by far the longest series of crap books ever published.

Why bother. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40928607)

Why bother with bombs for a fast moving asteroids? Use a powerful laser.

Easy answer - bomb contained a black hole (4, Interesting)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928617)

How else can you explain the time dilation of the painfully drawn out scene while the timer is ticking down and the audience is screaming "it's been minutes and supposed to be seconds - just die!".
Either than or about the fiftieth continuity or stupidly ignored fact failure of the movie.
There were Highlander sequals that made more sense - even the one where the sword changed from claymore to katana and back again in the middle of a fight.

Bigger bomb? (1)

SealBeater (143912) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928639)

No problem. If it's one thing the human race is good at, it's making bigger and better bombs.

Capital Of Singapore To Elaborate Smoking Limitati (-1, Offtopic)

jenniferouellette (2685485) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928705)

In the returning year, Singapore’s smoking ban will expand. The announcement was created weekday by the Senior Minister of State, Grace Fu Jkoffers [shareasale.com]

1000 KM? (1)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928717)

A 1000 km asteroid is rather enormous; it's estimated that a 10 km asteroid killed off the dinosaurs. That's got a mass of roughly one millionth that of the 1000 KM asteroid.

Suddenly we go from a billion times more powerful than we've ever detonated, to only one thousand times. That would seem to put it in the realm of feasibility; you build multiple much bigger bombs.

If we need a thousand times more than Tsar Bomba, that means we need a total of 50,000 megatons. An as-designed Tsar Bomba was twice as powerful, and had a yield ratio of roughly 4 megatons per ton, meaning we'd need to deliver 12,500 tons to the asteroid. That's a lot of mass to get off the planet, but probably within the realm of possibility for a concerted worldwide effort.

Besides, it would seem to me that you'd be better off spending the energy nudging the course of the asteroid rather than wasting energy trying to split the thing. A sufficiently large number of nuclear explosions on the same vector ought to do the trick far more cheaply.

Rocket-powered sky cranes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40928839)

That's okay. No need to be so radical and split it up to pieces, we could just beef up our sky crane and simply drag it out of the way.

The Space Shuttle (2)

RudyHartmann (1032120) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928841)

Another big point missed in the movie is that the Space Shuttle is only capable of going to Low Earth Orbit. Bruce Willis wouldn't have even been able to get the bomb there even if it was big enough.

There AREN'T any (discovered) asteroids* that big! (1)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928849)

I know this is a fault of the movie, not the paper, but there aren't any asteroids 1000 km in diameter (Ceres is just a little bit smaller).

The only way that the movie could be even remotely plausible would be if this were an extra-solar body coming from interstellar space. Otherwise it would have been detected centuries ago. (Actually, I think the movie indicated something like this). It would also probably be traveling at a high rate of speed since it would have been dropped almost all the way down the Sun's gravity well.

Still, such a large object would have likely been detected months, if not years (decades)? before impact; even it it were coal black. (I believe the large nightly deep sky surveys would've caught it way in advance). Astronomers have recently been finding much smaller objects way beyond the orbit of Pluto; even if headed directly headed to earth they would take more than a century to get here. But since that would've allowed NASA to train its astronauts how to use the drilling gear used by Bruce Willis et al. the writers made the time very short (I think it was 14 days).

Far more likely would be the scenario in "Deep Impact" a much more scientifically accurate (boring?) movie. Here the asteroid was only about 10 km or so in diameter, or less than a millionth the size (volume, mass) of the one in "Armageddon". Also, I think, they intercepted it deeper in space and were just trying to deflect it, so a realistically sized nuke would have been able to do the job. And they carried more than one! (So no super heroics requiring Bruce to stay behind).

Obviously the size and speed of the asteroid in "Armageddon" was only to impress the audience; "Texas-sized is a lot more awesome than "Manhattan-sized". (Both would've been "ELE"- Extinction Level Events). The only possible way any realistically sized nuke (remember, those 1950s super H-Bombs were BIG, I don't think the very largest could be carried by plane), could do the job described in the film would be if the asteroid was shaped like a bow tie and the bomb placed in the fragile center (yes underground would also be important). Oh, and it should be (rapidly?) spinning to counteract its own self-gravity so that it would fly apart (and also perhaps be structurally weaker).**

I seem to remember there being something in the movie about it being shaped like this (not spinning though). The writers evidently sought to make their story just a little more plausible by adding even more implausibility to it. So what else is new (in Hollywood)?

*I don't know if any of the recently found Kuiper belt objects are larger, Ceres was the largest asteroid listed in Wikipedia.
** Actually, if the asteroid WAS in some sort of bow-tie or dumbbell kind of shape, it MUST have been spinning. Otherwise it would've collapsed under its own weight into a (rough) sphere.

Certainly the interception point is relevant (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928867)

Most realistic scenarios involve intercepting the rock a long time before it gets that close to the earth. If you try to move it at the eleventh hour then yeah the amount of energy to get that sort of delta v is going to be absurd.

However, if you intercept it quite a bit earlier then bomb could be of reasonable size. Does this meet the criteria of blowing it apart? Depends. If you buried it in the middle of asteroid and we assumed the bomb fractured the rock and caused all the bits to drift slowly in various directions then wouldn't that qualify? It wouldn't recoalese at least not before the intercept with the earth.

Five words (1, Flamebait)

bhunachchicken (834243) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928881)

It's just a fucking movie.

Would the bombs destroy Earth (1)

gshegosh (1587463) | more than 2 years ago | (#40928903)

If they cannot destroy even a small asteroid?
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