ZetaTalk: Deflecting Asteroids
Note: written on Jul 15, 1996.
Recently the media and Internet message boards have been alerting the populace to the presence of what is termed near-miss asteroids. Discussion ensues on how
to deflect them should they threaten to impact the Earth, as though deflection would be possible. Does mankind now have the means to deflect such large, rapidly
moving objects? Such a deflection would require a precisely placed explosive device of sufficient strength to vaporize the asteroid. Disintegration would be required
because deflection is not possible in space. This statement will meet with vehement objection, especially from the arm of the establishment which seeks only to
deflect panic in the populace. It is not a collision with an asteroid which will shortly devastate Earth, it is the passage of the monster 12th Planet, ever drawing
closer. Nor will deflection of the trash in this giant comet's tail be possible - boulders as large as trucks thumping to Earth on occasion and the peppering of red
dust and gravel. Deflection of these few boulders is not possible either, as they are shrouded in the swirling dust of the tail, and only visible just before impact.
Deflection of large objects traveling in space or plummeting to Earth must address several problems.
- The object is traveling because it is caught in a gravitational attraction. This might not be the case in deep space, but within the Solar System this is most
certainly the case. If an asteroid is heading toward Earth, bumping it to the side a bit or even temporarily stopping its motion is at best a delaying action. The
asteroid will resume its path, as the factors that influenced the path in the first place are still there.
- Attempting to aim the asteroid so it falls in the ocean has the potential for making matters worse, not better. Unlike the winged space shuttles, which can
start their descent path at precise points and behave predictably, asteroids do not take orders or respond to controls. They are odd shaped, their shape an
unknown variable. They may or may not burn fiercely, a heated air factor that is not known. They may circle or plummet, depending on their weight and size,
more unknown variables. Thus attempting to steer them could prove disastrous. Oops, dropped it it right on the Pentagon!
- A nuclear explosion set off on the surface of an object in space would have minimal effect, as the explosion can expand in all directions at once. Nuclear
explosions on the Earth's surface are an irresistible force meeting an immovable object - the Earth! Where the explosion can expand up or outward into the
atmosphere there is only air turbulence. The portion of the explosion that is on the land side, or in the case of an underground explosion is encapsulated, is
between a rock and a hot expanding place. The explosion is forced into the rock strata by the continuously expanding center of the explosion. Solid rock
vaporized by nuclear explosions on the Earth's surface does not equate to the damage that would be done by one or even many nuclear devices on the
surface of an asteroid. All parts of the explosion move rapidly out into space, and thus the asteroid is safely away before the nuke really gets going. A
firecracker. A gnat. A sneeze. And the asteroid proceeds on its way, having only momentarily stepped aside to avoid mankind's silly experiment.
All the sudden upsurge in talk about the dangers asteroids present, and all the talk in the late 1990's about reviving the Star Wars program to address this threat is
not because something can actually be done. Short of making practical plans to survive the coming pole shift while hunkered down on the surface of the Earth,
mankind has no options, and those in the establishment who talk up asteroid deflection possibilities know this. They are simply buying themselves time by pushing
the point where panic in the populace gets heated as far out as possible. Hopefully, the panic button won't be hit until those members of the establishment are safely
away in their well stocked enclaves, and then the rest of humanity, who has been reassured that their government can protect them, be damned.
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