Ever wonder exactly how much damage an object striking the earth from space would do? This amazingly sweet calculator lets you work it out! http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/impacteffects/ Angle of impact, speed, size of the body hitting earth, mass, and it gives you just multi-orgasmic levels of specific information as to the destruction and mayhem that would ensue. It’s very very cool. Just for the hell of it, I decided to see if the information given in “Meteor” (A little-remembered Sean Connery/Karl Malden/Martin Landau flick that would be completely forgotten were it not Natalie Wood’s last movie, in which she narrowly escapes drowning. Really!). At one point one of the characters says “That asteroid is 5 miles wide and it’s definitely gonna’ hit us! It’ll leave a crater big enough to put the Atlantic Ocean in!” So I checked it out on my new toy, and, well, not so much: Destructive impact of a 5-mile asteroid is a mere 4.28X10^7th Megatons, resulting in a crater that’s only 60.3 miles in diameter and 7/10ths of a mile deep. How anticlimactic is that? On the bright side, it *would* create a 9.7 earthquake, and a fireball 21 miles in diameter that burns nearly 8 times brighter than the sun for twenty-four minutes before expending itself! Wow! Extinction-Level Events never seemed so plausible!
This is a really handy tool if you’re an aspiring SF writer, since it lets you accurate plot any disaster-movie shenanigans you might want to throw in to your story. It’s also handy for people who like to rag on the scientific inaccuracies of SF movies.
Check it out!