# How realistic is the movie Armageddon

## Can the earth be saved like in the movie Armageddon?

Physics students once calculated whether and how the earth could be saved by blowing up an asteroid with an atomic bomb

An asteroid is hurtling towards Earth and could destroy it. What can people do to prevent the apocalypse? In 1998, in the disaster film Armageddon, it was told that an asteroid with a diameter of 1000 km flies towards Earth and that a brave team manages at the last minute to save the earth by detonating an atomic bomb drilled into the asteroid. The asteroid is split in two as it flies past Earth.

Physics students from the University of Leicester say nonsense in the Journal of Physics Special Topics and once took the trouble to check the reality of the scenario shown in the film. They conclude that there is no atomic bomb, at least not now, that could bring it about. It should be a billion times more powerful than the largest atomic bomb that has ever been detonated. That was the Russian 50-megaton hydrogen bomb AN602 in 1961.

The students calculated how great the explosive power of a bomb would have to be that would tear such an asteroid, assumed in the film, into two parts at a speed of more than 35,000 km / h at a distance of 100,000 km from Earth would fly past the earth at a distance of at least 640 km. The film speaks of an asteroid predominantly made of iron ferrite, so the students assumed a density of 7,000 kgA-3 out.

According to the calculations, this would require 800 trillion terajoules of energy, the AN602 had just over 400,000. In addition, the asteroid would have had to be discovered much earlier than in the film in order to have a chance, but that would have damaged the dramaturgy and the narrative in general. The asteroid should have been discovered about 12.9 billion km away and immediately blown to pieces. That would be the distance to the Kuiper Belt, where there are actually many ice asteroids, but none made of iron. In any case, there would be no time for a person to fly there in time. Later it would not be possible to blast the parts so far that they fly past the earth at a safe distance.

The conclusion: At the moment there are no technical means to protect the earth from an asteroid using this method. So you have to think of other options. Ben Hall, one of the students, suggests that one could push the asteroid off course with some kind of propulsion system. But that should not be a realistic chance either, because then the asteroid would have to be spotted early and it would take too long to get the technology there, not to mention the size. (Florian RĂ¶tzer)

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