Thursday, June 13, 2019

The September 9th asteroid should be nuked

The contemporary public discussions are largely dominated by people who are either totally dishonest, or lack the basic education or intelligence, or have lost any sense of proportion, usually because of some intense ideological brainwashing they have been subjected to.

A comparison to show that point: several U.S. presidential candidates want to spend $5 trillion over a decade (just in the U.S.) to fight a completely non-existent threat of "climate change". On the other hand, some people who have never dared to criticize the climate hysteria are fighting against a $29 billion spending (over the same decade) to build a new generation of particle colliders, the mankind's most characteristic direction to advance the experimental pure science by brute force.

What is wrong with all these people, which clearly include Alessandro Strumia as I learned in recent days? Incidentally, I had to close the discussion because Alessandro was evolving it in totally nutty directions, both when it comes to the anthropic memes and the anti-collider jihad? How can they be so totally messed up not to resist to write a daily dose of lies and demagogy directed against pure science and its value which only costs a few billion dollars per year; while they are silently endorsing the wasting of trillions of dollars for complete stupidities?

They have completely lost it – to say the least, their sense of proportion has totally evaporated.

Another comparison: the climate hysteria vs asteroids. You know, the dinosaurs didn't go extinct because of microaggressions, transphobia, homophobia, xenophobia, climate change, or any other "terrible threat" according to the snowflakes. 66 million years ago, they were eradicated after the impact of a huge asteroid. Its diameter was between 11 and 81 kilometers, it landed somewhere in Mexico where you can see the crater, and large animals were particularly screwed.

Although the "anthropogenic climate change" hasn't hurt a single mammal so far, we are bombarded by the climate hysteria by the would-be "mainstream" media. Somewhat less frequently, the Earth is also bombarded by asteroids that are actually dangerous. One asteroid has 1-in-7,000 probability to hit the Earth as soon as Monday, September 9th, 2019.

Now, the media are virtually unanimous in saying that the asteroid 2006 QV89 is harmless, there is no risk, nothing to see here, nothing to worry about, don't sweat, no hazard etc.

Sorry but 1-in-7,000 is very far from zero. Let's look at this beast, 2006 QV89, through Sentry, NASA's mostly automatic system to monitor such objects (Wiki on Sentry).

OK, its mass is 40,000 tons and the diameter is 31 meters.

Without the extra acceleration in the Earth's gravitational field, the speed during the impact would be\[

v_{\rm infinity} = 5.16\,{\rm km/s}.

\] However, the Earth's gravity adds some speed that is calculable from the escape velocity \(v_{\rm escape}=11.2\,{\rm km/s}\) so that the actual speed of the asteroids near the Earth's surface would be the Pythagorean hypotenuse\[

v_{\rm impact} = \sqrt{v_{\rm infinity}^2 + v_{\rm escape}^2} = 12.28\,{\rm km/s}.

\] A football stadium could hit the Earth by the speed of 12 kilometers per second. The probability is 1-in-7,000. If you throw a die five times and you get 6-6-6-6-6, the asteroid will hit the Earth on September 9th. So please don't throw any dice if you want to preserve the safety of the people.

The impact kinetic energy is 0.72 megatons of TNT, about 50 Hiroshima bombs. Because it's below 1 megaton, this asteroid cannot make it to the Torino scale at all: it's Torino scale 0 right now. If the probability grew for that asteroid, it would be a routine discovery, scale 1, or the localized destruction, 3 or 8, depending on whether it's certain.

There is no way how this small asteroid could terminate the life on Earth but I still think that you don't want this asteroid to hit a major city.

The mankind should be learning to fight against these threats – because at some moment, larger and more urgent threats of this kind are guaranteed to arrive. To make some experiment, I propose to simply send some ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead against this particular asteroid to break it to pieces. Note that when the asteroid is still far away, it is moving by the speed of 5 km/s or so relatively to the Earth. The ballistic missiles also move by up to 5 km/s. But we don't need to chase the asteroid, it's approaching us. That makes it much easier to achieve the collision.

So Mr Donald Trump, why don't you just send a nuclear missile against the asteroid? We could start to learn whether we have a chance to affect such asteroids. If you destroy such an asteroid, Mr Trump, you will become an interplanetary superhero of a sort and maybe the world including the rogue crooked Democrats will respect you much more than today.

The possible collision is 88 days ago. If we could send a missile in that direction by the same speed 5 km/s, the missile could collide with the asteroid in some 44 days. Maybe we should postpone the collision a little bit. But I do think that the mankind should start to wrestle with asteroids. The first test may be just a rudimentary collision without any Bruce Willis who will later drill a hole into bigger asteroids. But we should start at some moment. I suspect that the dinosaurs could have spent too much time in gyms but they didn't have terribly good missiles, although I am not quite sure. ;-)

The price of a missile would be trivial – tens of millions of dollars.

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