Ludditt's plan for saving the planet
Russian scientists will soon meet in secret to work on a plan for saving Earth from a possible catastrophic collsion with a giant asteroid in 26 years.... [7 Days, P13]
Very interesting, n'est pas? Reading on, it seems that in 2036 we are facing 1:250,000 odds (down from 1:45,000 - phew!) of being struck by the Apophis asteroid, which, if it hits us, will create a desert the size of France. The exact path that the asteroid follows on a flyby in 2029 will determine whether it smashes into the Earth seven years later.
Apparently this gathering of the world's shiniest foreheads from Russia, Europe, US and China (what....no one from the Middle East? But we've even got Virgin Galactic launching from Ras Al Khaimah soon) are going to try applying the laws of physics, rather than nuclear explosion, to avoid a collision.
I studied Astronomy as part of my physics GCSE - with variable success - so have a bit of a fascination for all things planetary. And I'm sure these guys have thought of this already. BUT...if we're to believe old Newton then I'm wondering where we're going to find a 350m diameter object that's pretty damn solid, to project into space on the right path...in the right direction....at the right time and speed....in order to cause the equal and opposite reaction and send Apophis back from whence it came. In the grand scheme of the universe as we currently know it, I'm thinking that's a bit 'needle in a haystack'-esque for this particular task.
So here's what I'd do.
I would gather together all 'end of the world' type movies, particularly those involving Bruce Willis and any that are futuristic sci-fi (therefore involving technology that's more imaginative than your average nuclear bomb), and invest a month or so in a bit of research. As an aside, it's a fine excuse to study Ben Affleck. We've got nine years until the first milestone and no one seemed to feel rushed into getting their heads together when odds were five times higher, so I'm thinking there's bandwidth here.
This would be followed by an open session brainstorm that invites 4-15 year old kids to dream up the most far-flung and ridiculous ideas possible for saving the earth. The ideas of children are constrained only by the realms of their imagination, unlike us boring adults, so I would put money on one of them coming up with something that one day turned into gold. Only then would I introduce a computer and put a bunch of scientists in the room.
By this time, we are probably much closer to aforementioned fly-by and can either say goodbye to France, or...positive thinking....put the drawing board away and congratulate ourselves on dodging another bullet.
On the other hand, I do agree that it's a damn fine job that I don't run a country - though my cabinet meetings would be a lot more interesting than Gordon's probably are!