Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/04/13/asteroid_strike/

Asteroid apocalypse: the online guide

Boffins deploy Armageddon analyser

By Lester Haines

Posted in Science, 13th April 2004 15:31 GMT

If the newspapers and grant-seeking boffins are to be believed, it's only a matter of time before an enormous lump of rock comes hurtling out of the heavens and puts a serious downer on everbody's day.

Not satisfied with having wiped out the dinosaurs, asteroids are apparently hungry to inflict more terrestrial mayhem - and next time humanity itself could be on the menu.

We're obliged, therefore, to the Department of Planetary Sciences at the University of Arizona which has developed a handy programme to calculate to what extent said apocalypse will immediately effect you, the innocent bystander.

The Impact Effects programme allows you to enter parameters such as your distance from impact, size of asteroid, etc. You then get told what happens next. Intrigued, we decided let the "impactometer" calculate the effect of a 50m ball of rock falling on not-too-distant Shenfield (a commuter town in Essex's commuter hinterland in need of "redevelopment" - asteroids take note):

The programme then offered us the following:


Crater Size:

Thermal Radiation:

Seismic Effects:


Air Blast:

Blimey. A blast equivalent to 6.78 MegaTons of TNT making a 867 metre crater? That's Shenfield permanently off the map, make no mistake.

Interesting stuff, although we can't help feeling that those of us who have studied the asteroid threat in depth should be allowed a further input option: Deploy Bruce Willis? Y/N?

Pressing "Y" would, of course, would be an end to the matter. ®