Archive for March 18th, 2018

We Are No Dinosaurs: H Bombs Potentially Save Lives, Whereas PC kills

March 18, 2018

I long advocated comet and asteroid defense. The subject is intricate, with high stakes, even more interesting as the very strange reactions it brought.

Years ago, I claimed that H bombs were the ultimate, and necessary tool to achieve security. At the time, “experts” were ruling out nukes. Contemporaneously, I had a major fight with a (decorated) geophysicist about my claim that the Earth functions as a nuclear reactor, thus driving the Earth magnetic field, which protects the upper atmosphere from stripping by the solar wind during Coronal Mass Ejections (which is, we now know the way Mars’ atmosphere was stripped). In my opinion both experts’ opinions were the fruit, not of science, but of the Political Correctness which fed them (they got to their expert position not thanks to their smarts, but thanks to being PC).

Political Correctness, in this case “nukes are evil” was so great at the time that “experts”, to achieve astronomical moral superiority over the moral turpitude of the ilk of yours truly, the moral turpitude of those who tell the truth, pontificated idiotically that H-bombs would be inefficient, unsuitable, inappropriate, and that, to promote their usage, was, besides criminal, the mark of a lack of scientific culture. Moreover, they added, impacts were impossible in the foreseeable future.

Here is an update: the old “experts” were wrong, like 100% wrong, peer-review journal and the US government recognize, it is my pleasure to reveal.

Siding Springs comet, the smallest one is even more dangerous, because of its speed. Europe landed, and orbited with Rosetta the bigger one… which is a tenth of the largest comet known. As comets fly by, they can destabilize others, or asteroids.


A new generation of expert has arisen, who say exactly what I used to say, the obvious. The latest study, in a Russian lab, mimicked nuclear blasts, using lasers (whose energy, just as a nuclear bomb is mostly photons, initially). A US study, on project Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response (HAMMER), concluded the same. New facts have come to the surface.


The probability of impacts, as I said in the past, was underestimated:

As demonstrated in the Tunguska impact in Siberia, “impacts” of a less than 200 meters across bolide has a high probability to end as an airburst. Tunguska flattened 2,150 square kilometers of forest, destroying 80 million trees. That’s a circle with a diameter of 50 kilometers. In other words, exploding above some of the largest city on Earth, it could kill up to 30 million people, annihilating Tokyo-Yokohama, Mexico City, New York, Moscow, the greater Paris, etc… Initially it was thought the explosion was up to 30 megatons TNT, but then it was realized one should take into account the momentum of the disintegrating bolide, just as in the case of a hollow charge to penetrate armor. That lowered the yield to no more than 5 megatons!

A stony asteroid of about 10 m (33 ft) in diameter can produce an explosion of around 20 kilotons, similar to that of the Fat Man plutonium implosion bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Data released by the US Air Force’s Defense Support Program indicate that such explosions occur high in the upper atmosphere more than once a year.

The 1930 Curuçá River event in Brazil, observed by many, was an explosion of a superbolide that left no clear evidence of an impact crater. A smaller air burst occurred over a populated area in Russia on 15 February 2013, at Chelyabinsk in the Ural district of Russia. The exploding meteoroid was an asteroid that measured about 17 to 20 metres across, with an estimated initial mass of 11,000 tonnes, and inflicted over 1,200 injuries (mostly from flying glass, like a nuclear blast)… It would have been worse, had it streaked closer to the city.


ATLAS, the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System:

So now the good news, thanks to our old friends at NASA, ATLAS is running, with one telescope on top of Maui at 3,000 meters, and the other on top of Mauna Loa, 100 miles away, at 4,200 meters.    

ATLAS is an asteroid impact early warning system developed by the University of Hawaii and funded by NASA. It consists of two telescopes, 100 miles apart, which automatically scan the whole sky several times every night looking for moving objects. On the side it has already detected several comets, and 1,200 Supernova, mostly type 1a, among other scientific prowesses. It has also discovered 17 Potentially Hazardous Asteroids…

Second good news, a new generation of experts, American and now Russian, has established that nuclear bombs would be safe and effective to dispose of a dangerous impactor detected too late to nudge it away… Besides, they would be the only way (as I used to say).   


Blowing off skeptics with the Hypervelocity Siding Springs Comet:

Some fanatics, outwardly humanistic, inwardly the opposite, will sneer that my desire to find some use to thermonuclear fusion is pathetic: who cares if a given city has non negligible probability to be vaporized by heavens in the next 100,000 years?

However, the probability is much higher than Conventional Wisdom has it. And a new reasoning will be deployed below, not found in the scientific literature, to my knowledge.

An example was the Siding Spring comet. Nobody expected this sort of comet. It zoomed on what looked like a straight line through the Solar System, passing Mars at 56 kilometers per second. A typical speed for a meteorite (and probably Tungunska) is 11 kilometers per second.

As really great, although female, physicist Émilie Du Châtelet demonstrated in the Eighteenth Century, the energy of body of mass m going at speed v is ½ mvv. So energy per unit of mass augments as the square of the speed. Thus one kilogram of the Siding Spring Comet had 25 times the energy of one kilogram of Tunguska bolide. Add to this the fact Siding Spring was much smaller than its big tail advertised: only 400 to 700 meters across. Siding Spring passed very close to Mars (140,000 kilometers, half the Earth-Moon distance). If Siding Springs had hit Earth, that would have been probably at an angle, and it would have liberated an amazing amount of energy

Computer simulation show that a 200 meters diameter comet going at 11km/s would explode with an energy of 30 megatons. If the comet were 650 meters: 30 x 40 megatons, say: 1,000 megatons (Siding Springs diameter: 400-700 meters). Multiply by 25, from the v^2 factor of Émilie Du Châtelet: 25,000 megatons of TNT. The average penetration angle would be 45 degrees, giving an average trajectory of hundreds of kilometers by hypersonic surfing of the shock wave on the upper atmosphere, say 600 kilometers over 10 seconds. Acceleration: 56,000 meters/sec/10 seconds, in other words 5,600 gs, more than 5,000 the acceleration of earth’s gravity.

These are orders of magnitude. Maybe the comet would surf the atmosphere over a minute, etc. In any case, no solid body, a fortiori a fragile comet, can withstand thousands of gs. It will disintegrate. As it does, it would fry everything in its path. If it surfs two minutes, it could leave a trail of devastation hundreds of kilometers wide, over thousands of kilometers. And guess what? No impact!


Some mysterious degradations of living conditions in recorded history are so far unexplained. Volcanoes, of course are generally the prime culprit, as I long suspected, and explained, with dinosaurs:

Chinese and Romans records indicate a spectacular deterioration of conditions in the Sixth Century. Volcano, or impact? It seems two distinct eruptions were culpritRecently, mainly from the work of some researchers in France, mass deaths in Europe from starvation in 1257 CE, were explained by the explosion of a giant volcano on the island of Lombok, bringing down the kingdom there. The explosion of Thera/Santorin brought down Cretan civilization, thanks to tsunamis, ash, quakes, etc…  

If an impact was found to have occurred in recorded history, with catastrophic consequences, instead of still another crazy volcano, the probability of those extraterrestrial events would be jacked up. In the scenario I gave, the impact from a fast-moving, small comet, there would be no traces on the ground.

In any case, the pollution of questions of life and death by Political Correctness can be utterly grotesque: it was clear all along that, in some configurations, we would have to nuke asteroids or comets. To pretend otherwise was idiotic, corrupt.

Having to use nuclear energy to save ourselves is very good. And ultimately, we need controlled, sustained thermonuclear fusion. If we had it now, the CO2 catastrophe (and many other catastrophes) would be avoided. Nuclear is our friend, if, and only if, well done.

What’s never our friend is any notion that it is philosophically correct to believe that fancy and corrupt notions of so-called Political Correctness trump the truth. It’s not just that nothing trumps reality. By faking reality, we reject altruism. 

Patrice Aymé