Armageddon Out of Here

Asteroid Impact
The threat of an asteroid hitting the Earth and destroying all human life is a constant worry for astronomers, Armageddon hypothesisers and those with a nervous disposition; however their concerns are not completely unfounded (remember the dinosaurs?). A number of asteroids are known to be on a collision course with Earth and the next significant impact is expected to come from an asteroid called 1950DA which is due to hit or narrowly miss Earth in 2880 (so at least we have time on our side). Naturally we humans have sought to seek some control over these potentially devastating pieces of rock. Plan A has always been to nuke it if it gets too close but there are logistical issues with this, namely that if anything untoward should happen to the rocket carrying the nuclear bomb before it left the atmosphere this would probably cause more damage than the impact of the asteroid. Also, should the bomb reach the asteroid it may break it up without altering its trajectory – effectively creating an inter-stellar cluster-bomb. Planetary geologist Jay Melosh has been devising an alternative method of asteroid deflection. He proposes that in the same way we can use a magnifying glass to burn a hole in a sheet of paper, we could focus the Sun’s rays on the asteroid which would slowly but surely vaporise it. Admittedly you would need an enormous magnifying glass, something Melosh calls a ‘solar collector’, but there are already a number of radio dishes that could potentially be adapted to perform this role. These could be in orbit and ready for action in less than 10 years. This would leave us with a casual 2859 years to spare with no risk of nuclear fallout. Listen to episode 1 of The GIST Podcast to hear more about this story.

Tell your friends!Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0
Discuss

Author

// Chris Brennan-Jones is a final year audiology student at Queen Margaret University

Creative Commons License Armageddon Out of Here by Chris Brennan-Jones is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

References


Other Articles

MAGAZINE RELEASE: Get yours at our Intro Events

It’s here. theGIST Magazine Issue 3. We are very proud of our newest publication, crafted with love and build on curiosity by our dedicated team of GISTers. In our third issue, we re-visit a series of captivating issues: the ever important debate of women in science academia with a critical look at the progress and … More


Mary Shelley’s Haber-Bosch Process

With the population ever-growing and resources strained, how will we feed ourselves in the future? This was the foreboding question posed by Dr. Haralampos Miras at the University of Glasgow as he shone a spotlight on the Haber-Bosch process – a longstanding and invaluable industrial technique for producing ammonia – as part of the recent … More


Therapeutic pollution: a different kettle of fish

When chemicals spill out into the world around us, we need to know what consequences they will have. In general, an opinion of “what doesn’t harm is fine” holds – both for ecotoxicological tests, used to determine the adverse effects of contaminants, and in the community overall. Indeed, it is quite intuitive. But what if … More


Henrietta Lacks: An Ordinary Woman with an Extraordinary Story

Henrietta Lacks was born on August 1st 1920, the ninth child in a poor black family of tobacco farmers in Virginia, USA. At the age of 30, Henrietta developed extremely aggressive cervical cancer. During her treatment she unknowingly donated her cancer cells, which are still growing to this day in laboratories worldwide. Henrietta never knew, … More


Discussion

  1. Pingback: You Learn Something New Every Once in a While…16/07/11

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Fields marked with an * are required. By commenting you consent to us placing cookies on your computer.





You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>