Pop quiz. An asteroid the size of Manhattan is hurtling towards Earth, its impact is sure to result in mass extinction and the destruction of humanity as we know it. What do you do?
The traditional answers would be "blow it up". But new research from Los Alamos National Lab and the University of California, Santa Cruz, shows that if the asteroid isn't moving fast enough, or if the nuke isn't big enough, the asteroid will pull itself back together, T-1000-style, within a matter of hours.
According to the new simulations, the gravitational attraction between the various asteroid parts is strong enough to reconstitute a 3,281-foot-in-diameter asteroid in between 2 to 18 hours. To blow up the asteroid thoroughly enough to prevent its recombination, you would need a nuclear weapon with a yield of 900 kilotons -- which, luckily, is well within the range of current hydrogen bombs.
However, the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs was ten times larger than that, meaning it reform much faster after being nuked. So rather than blowing up the asteroid directly, many scientists advocate blowing the nuke up next to the asteroid. That explosion could shove the rock out of the way of Earth, without creating dangerous smaller meteorites or allowing it to come back together.
Has anyone ever considered that a nuke wont blow up in space. It just emits an enormous amount of radiation. Does radiation kill rocks or dissolve them? Or is a little warhead going to stab the asteroid to death?
If god wants to destroy planet earth I do not think there is anything we can do about. Most likely god will prevail.
If technologically superior being wants to vaporize earth again there is not much we can do because currently we are an earth based civilization. Destroy the earth beneath us and we return to stellar dust.
In the meantime PopSci quit scaring us : we will be around for some thousands of years at least if not millions.
david, there is no god. that's science. (and if you don't believe me, then maybe you'll believe that He told me to tell you this. it's all His will, after all...)
willSG, you have to use a bunker-buster strategy here. make the missile embed itself in the asteroid, then detonate. if the asteroid is a solid hunk of hard rock - or iron - we could merely be painting it with missile parts in trying to plant our demolition charge. in that case we'd be better off trying to disrupt its orbit, which means forcing some reaction mass to go one way and the bulk of the rock to go another way. where will we get the reaction mass? good question.
while we certainly have big enough nukes to blow up a sufficiently friable space object, we don't have a lift vehicle capable of engaging a tough object with a massive payload at a safe distance from the planet.
why would you think a nuke wouldn't blow up in space? granted there wouldn't be a mushroom cloud, just probably a spherical ball of light, but that "enormous amount of radiation"...the energy released...is what you'd be looking for to push the thing out of the way.
I don't see a problem. We have megaton yield thermo-nukes (10^3 x kiloton) until 2054 when we run out of tritium (due to lack of political backbone or accountability).
@divideatimpera - That same "God's Will" argument was used against lightning rods, organ transplants, inoculation, insulin, antibiotics, air planes, space travel, nuclear power, gun powder, machine guns, electrical power and submarines.
So if Ra and Apollo get together and decide to start throwing rocks instead of moving the sun around, I am sure we can blow them out of the sky.
I have no problem with destroying space rocks with whatever means. However real effort and action is needed. Just a comment on a website will not do.
1. All objects tracked and identified in our solar system.
2. A sphere of intervention defined around earth.
3. Stock the nuclear rockets at strategic points in the solar system.
4. Real simulation on a meteorite heading towards Mars.
So help me the devil!
P.S. If the Iranian flag or the North Korean flag or US flag or the taliban flag is painted on the asteroid this becomes a national security issue and will somehow speed things up.
And once we are at peace with this maybe we can continue our earthly wars.
Nukes work just fine in space - when the burst of radiation hits the surface of the asteroid, it creates a shock wave of vaporized rock.
I think they ought to practice on one of the near-Earth asteroids that pass by every year. The Russians are already planning to deflect the asteroid Apophis in a few years, so the US ought to pick a similar rock and try to blow it up. That would also give Los Alamos a chance to test-fire a warhead, since none of our nuclear weapons have been tested since 1992.
It is the prevalence of Terminator-style asteroids that should prompt us to allow the testing and stockpiling of nuclear weapons in all countries.
Also, nice grammar - "However, the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs was ten times larger than that, meaning it reform much faster after being nuked." Really, Short Round? It reform much faster, Dr. Jones? (www.indianajones.wikia.com/wiki/Short_Round)
Also, thanks for the beautiful 525 x 297 pixel "asteroid" image; truly inspiring.
I'm not sure what "God's" will would have anything to do with this.
What if god is playing pinball with the celestial bodies?
Whatever human can do this will be god to me.
God is a human creation, albeit imaginary, and as such it has a place in human culture.
Nuclear weapons due work in space
I think that the concept is to put a nuke on the side of an asteroid and shift the path. Nuclear explosions in space don't have any matter to transmit a pressure wave, so yes, they don't do anything if they explode in a vacuum.(well, there is that little radiation thing).
I don't normally get in on the God/science discussions. But, I'll just say that, as in many other cases, something caused humans to have intelligence. If that something is God, you'd guess that He/She/It would expect us to use that intelligence in this case, just as in any other.
Several religions have had one god or another wiping all but a select few humans from the face of the Earth in an attempt to wipe out some form of iniquity or another.
If some present god wants to hit the Earth with an asteroid, the ungodliness and unbridled fornication will start up again pretty quickly. It always does.
I say we just let the d*mn thing hit ... and fornicate like bunnies until it does.
A long time ago, in our own galaxy, a Greek philosopher named Aristotle wrote a chapter in a book on physics. The next chapter we call Metaphysics, because it came after the one on physics.
In Metaphysics, Aristotle makes an exhaustive study of the existence of God based purely on reason. Aristotle managed to prove it in two different ways. Other philosophers have added three more proofs since that time.
If you are a Spock kind of thinker, logic rules. Anyone making an assertion should have some logical basis for it. One of the proofs for the existence of God is causality. Big bang theory currently prevails in the scientific community for the origin or cause of the universe. But the big bang had to have a cause.
"God is a human creation, albeit imaginary..."
"I say we just let the d*mn thing hit"
Darwin will deal with you.
"If god wants to destroy planet earth I do not think there is anything we can do about."
Maybe what God wants is for us to quit our incessant wars and work together towards the good of all humanity - or perish.
God is NOT a punisher
"Ahhll be beck" !
Let us have lot's of faith in God.
Nonsquid - "That same "God's Will" argument was used against lightning rods, organ transplants, inoculation, insulin, antibiotics, air planes, space travel, nuclear power, gun powder, machine guns, electrical power and submarines."
Lightning Rods - still don't work, thus, my power strip
Organ Transplants - black market for organs
Inoculation - linked to autism (and stabbing babies with needles - which leads to babys crying - the most annoying sound on Earth)
Insulin - which allows Americans to wolf down sugars like Cretinous gluttons
Antibiotics - government mind control chip delivery system
Air Planes - 9/11
Space Travel - barely
Nuclear Power - and bombs
Gun Powder - and bullets
Machine Guns - and more bullets
Electric Power - global warming from coal
Submarines - the Village People
God clearly knew that we would be better off without any of those things.
People don't seem to understand that the original argument by divideatimpera is completely accurate. "If God wants to destroy us, there is nothing we can do about it."
That leaves three options.
1. We fail to deflect the(an) asteroid. God wins
2. We succeed in deflecting the(an) asteroid. God didn't send it.
3. We succeed in deflecting the asteroid. We are mightier than God.
Also, a fouth one.
4. We sit on our ass, believeing God wants us dead. God cries, and Darwin cackles as we are ahnnialated.
Take your pick. If we can defy God's will, it is not his will.
Aristotle's dependence on the teleological argument is fallacious, unfortunately.
It contains a blatant Non Sequitur and Affirmation of the Consequent.
It does not follow that things such as complexity, order, purpose or beauty cannot be explained by random processes and must be a product of "mind".
Affirming the Consequent in this case is basically: The existence of God implies a universe displaying order, complexity, purpose and beauty. Order, complexity, purpose and beauty exist. Therefore God exists.
As I think about it, it may even represent the logical fallacy of Bifurcation or the False Dichotomy -- it assumes that there are only two choices when there may, in fact, be many.
Never mind, though. Logic has been entirely static since Aristotle's time, so anything he said must be true.
Oh. And if I fornicate like a bunny and produce enough offspring to radiate through the population and leave the bulk of it with some small bit of my genetic legacy, Darwin will take care of me...
(Sorry, I can't leave this alone...)
Aristotle was also not aware of the quantum nature of the universe.
At the quantum level, the universe operates in a largely random and non-deterministic way. Cause and effect are largely non-deterministic. It is chaotic. While someone may, at his pleasure, satisfy his personal aesthetic and find beauty in that, there is certainly no order.
Even time, which Aristotle would have perceived as a continuous flow (Einstein liked that, and what he said about the past, present and future were interesting. But even he had to set aside his comfortable position on the subject) may not be continuous or deterministic at all. Time, at the quantum level, may be a random arrangement of discrete "packets". Disjointed. It may only appear to us to be continuous to us in our limited scope of perception.
Aristotle was brilliant. I am not knocking him. But his world view was incomplete and the art of logic has developed considerably since his time.
His teleological argument no longer bears up to the scrutiny of modern understanding.
Since the teleological argument forms the basis for most current "proofs" of the existence of god, those arguments are not valid. Nor is any use of the Affirmation of the Consequent.
"Prove he doesn't exist!" is no better. Non-existence cannot be proven satisfactorily. It can only be demonstrated within a very defined temporal and spacial sphere. For instance, "Prove UFOs don't exist!" is no valid argument that they do. Nor is finding no evidence that they do exist a proof that they don't.
I cannot prove, by any sophistry, that there is no monster in my closet. What I can do is demonstrate, at some point in time and within the limits of the closet, that there is no monster. I do so by removing the contents of the closet and inventorying them until the closet is empty. When the closet is empty, I can consult the inventory and, finding no monster, conclude that at the time I inventoried the closet there was no monster in it -- or that monsters can become invisible and avoid detection. That does not prove that there never was nor never will be a monster in it. Neither does it prove that there was or will be a monster in the closet.
why is it that if an asteroid on a path to hit earth and kill us all, is seen, and acted upon, why do we only send one nuke. I would send a few extra just to make sure. the first one blows it apart, then the 2nd and 3rd push the pieces far enough away from eachother or blow them into even smaller pieces. whats the math on that, because i really hate to do math.
One quick reply for now as I'm tired.
"Prove he doesn't exist!" is no better. Non-existence cannot be proven satisfactorily. "
Please read my comment again more carefully. You assume that I am trying to prove God exists by saying it cannot be proven that He does not. I offered no such argument.
divideatimpera made the assertion:
"God is a human creation, albeit imaginary..."
I asked divideatimpera's to offer some proof of that assertion. Otherwise I will consider it to be mere speculation.
Understand that my point is not at its heart one of religion or theology. This is only the present context of an exercise in rational and critical thought. I am often tickled by the fact that in a discussion of scientific matters, it seems many cannot resist the urge to insinuate their religion.
Again: Non-existence cannot be satisfactorily be proven by any sophistry. It can only be demonstrated within the bounds of a very narrowly defined limit of space and time.
(As a Mathematician, I may be able to prove the non-existence of a non-trivial global solution to a discrete equation with a limited number of parameters and an sufficiently small set of initial data (which is limited and narrowly defined, as above), but I cannot prove the non-existence of at least some solution to a less narrowly defined equation.)
Proving non-existence is a logical fallacy, one which often comes in the form of "Prove X does not exist" after someone makes the positive assertion that it does, as you did vicariously through Aristotle. A thinker "like Spock" would never raise the question. It is not "logical" and has no value.
Coming as it did after your statement that Aristotle had proven the existence of god (which can be shown to contain logical fallacies) and the statement that causality can be used as a proof of the existence of god (which can be shown to be false due to the non-deterministic nature of the quantum universe -- the Big Bang comes to mind here), your request for a proof of non-existence was certainly a contextual statement of your assumed position (whether or not you actually hold to that position personally) and a challenge to provide an argument to the contrary.
I agree with the "imaginary" position.
Consider the implications of the following four possibilities, with the understanding that various societal groups have held or currently hold to wildy varying understanding of god/gods:
One group's version of god/gods is correct; all groups' versions of god/gods are correct, no group's version of god/gods is correct, some finite number of groups' version of god/gods is correct.
And yes, you did ask for proof of non-existence.
Implicit in the statement that god is imaginary is the concept that god does not exist.
ford, that's assuming that humans have intelligence and its not just a series of complex chemical if else statements. Just saying.
@QIII "And yes, you did ask for proof of non-existence."
You seem incapable of grasping a very simple concept. divideatimpera stated as a fact that God is an imaginary, human creation. I asked him to prove it.
@QIII "This is only the present context of an exercise in rational and critical thought,..."
Dictionary dot com, definition of philoshopy:
"the rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct. "
That is my definition of philosophy, if you want to talk religion, try theology. I doubt that Aristotle embraced any modern religion, he was simply using logic and followed where it led.
"@QIII that in a discussion of scientific matters, it seems many cannot resist the urge to insinuate their religion."
Does your religion prevent you from using your rational powers to arrive at truth, or can you participate in a logical discussion?
@lucky "You seem incapable of grasping a very simple concept. divideatimpera stated as a fact that God is an imaginary, human creation. I asked him to prove it."
You seem incapable of understanding the simple condition implicit in the imaginary: That a thing does not exist. To prove god to be imaginary, he would have to prove non-existence. Are you not tracking? This is at best a matter which might be discussed in a Freshman-level introduction to Philosophy.
@lucky "Dictionary dot com, definition of philoshopy:
"the rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct. "
That is my definition of philosophy, if you want to talk religion, try theology. I doubt that Aristotle embraced any modern religion, he was simply using logic and followed where it led."
I specifically said that I was not talking about religion, but that it was only the present context.
And I don't disagree with your definition of Philosophy (capital "P", please.)
Please note "rational investigation" in your own definition. Thanks.
I did not say that Aristotle believed in any modern religion. He could hardly have believed in any that did not exist.
And the "logic" he followed in this particular case can be demonstrated to be flawed based on the development of Logic and Science since his time.
@lucky "Does your religion prevent you from using your rational powers to arrive at truth, or can you participate in a logical discussion."
Since I have none, I don't think it can get in the way.
And yes. I can participate in a rational discussion. I believe that all of my posts have been about matters of logic and logical fallacies. It has been in the context of the existence of god, not in any particular religious concept of god.
Can you participate in this rationally?
If you would like to prove the existence of something, you must first assume that it does not exist and move forward from there. To do otherwise would trap you in Petitio Principii, Circulus in Probando (assuming the conclusion while arguing in a circle, often refered to a "begging the question".)
Starting from a position that there is no god, as I must do in any rational and logical process of proving that there is a god, I find no satisfactory or compelling argument that one (or more) exists.
That I can deconstruct and dash every argument that I have heard does not mean that god does not exist, of course. However, I am rationally unmoved.
And in case you have any misapprehension that I have not heard them all, I am an ordained Baptist Minister and a former Apologist.
While I am now a non-believer (I use the term agnostic, since I cannot prove the non-existence of god and, therefore, do not "know"), I have no great and burning desire to divorce anyone from his faith.
I do, however, reserve the right to enter into a rational discussion about such faith. But it is certainly true that faith cannot be challenged rationally, since it is irrational. (By irrational, I do not want to imply, in any way, that it is "defective".)
Now insert "xyz" in place of the word "god" in my post and remove the reference to a supreme being if you wish to have the discussion be within the bounds of some context other than religion.