At one point or another while watching Michael Bay’s asteroid drama Armageddon, everyone asks themselves, “Would that really work?” Viewers aren’t the only ones who want to know if blowing up an oncoming asteroid is a viable course of action or not, and the movie’s characters also pose that question. (And yes, we do realize that we’re talking about a movie, but for the moment let us pretend that we’re discussing real life.)
As it turns out, Armageddon got it wrong. Students of the University of Leicester in the UK have set out to answer this question. While it has been determined that it might be possible to redirect an asteroid by using strategically placed nuclear strikes, the students figured out that there is no way they could have blown the flying space rock in half.
Based on the size of the asteroid as given in the movie, you would require 800 trillion terajoules of energy to rend that rock asunder. Here’s the problem with that scenario: the largest bomb ever detonated in the history of bomb detonation was 418,000 terajoules. So bomb makers have quite a ways to go before they’ll be using explosives to save the world by planting a nuke in the heart of an asteroid. All of our movie heroes will just have to figure out another way to pull our asses out of the collective fire.
No matter the overwhelming amount of scientific data to the contrary, I refuse to believe that Bruce Willis would let me down like that. He’d find a way to blow up that asteroid using traditional means before it crashes into Earth, wiping humanity out like the dinosaurs.