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Clinton Siebert

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meteors and the earth

I was watching a show on the discovery channel about earth being hit and they were trying to come up with solutions. Well one solution that was rejected was blowing it up they say blowing it up would be more disastrous than the meteor it self plus we don't have the capability of sending a missile that far into space yet. Now this is where I'm puzzled there's no gravity in space and everything is weightless so a bomb exploding say 500 feet away from it should creat enough force to push the meteor in a completely different direction. Now about sending a missile there we can land a probe on a asteroid, and send robots to mars but we can't send a missal with a bomb into space so I guess what I want to know is am I an idiot or are these shows on the discovery channels a bunch of hog wash?

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    Sep 5 2011: Hitting an asteroid with a missile will only break it into large chunks that will still fall to Earth. At worse it'll just leave a crater on the face of it. I'm not sure the shockwave typically created by an explosion could propagate in the void of space either, although somebody with more experience on the matter than me should confirm this.
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      Sep 5 2011: The shockwave from the blast should cause plenty of force if a star explodes it obliterates any planets close to it so the explosive force should be able to travel in the vacuum of space. We should be able to do the same thing with a meteor without blowing it up just push it on another course. They also mentioned we would probably not be able to see it in time, we can see planets in other galaxies so we should be able to see it days before it got here even just a mile wide one and we should only need a few hours warning to launch a missile.
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        Sep 5 2011: We observe planets indirectly through their gravitational effect on their stars. This is the work of months. Besides, we aren't looking for a specific planet, there are a few we happen to find at some time. Thus asteroids can escape our scrutiny (and they have). Thankfully, sometimes we do see them like the one who will pass near us in 2029 and might be back in 2035 depending on its trajectory.

        I have now checked my previous intuition, shock waves don't propagate in space because they have no medium to displace; like air, so as I said the shock wave wouldn't do it. What's likely to come into contact when stars explode is the gases they expound (although the planet should be close enough that the gases are not scattered enough on impact).
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      Sep 5 2011: depends on the missile. currently, our most mighty nuclear warheads would not surely be able to break a huge asteroid or comet apart. those things are really really big in an impressive way.

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