Thursday, December 25, 2008

The end of the world

This is just beautiful. It's Pink Floyd's "The Great Gig in the Sky" set to a Discovery Channel simulation of a 500km asteroid impact.

(Watch it in HD. "But how? It's Youtube!" Trust me. This is cool.)

Could it really happen? Probably not anytime soon. 99942 Apophis has the record for highest Torino scale risk estimate so far... at two out of ten. This was back in 2004 when NASA estimated a 1-in-300 chance of collision in 2029. It's known now that that won't happen, but if it goes through the exact right ~600-meter "gravitational keyhole" in 2029 will be on a collision course for 2036. NASA gives that 1 in 45000 odds. If it does happen, though, it will release as much energy as 880 megatons of exploding TNT. The Mt. Krakatoa explosion -- the biggest known volcanic explosion -- was equivalent to about 200 MT TNT and caused unusually cold, long winters for three years in 1883. The biggest man-man explosion so far was "Tsar Bomba", which was a 50 MT hydrogen bomb. For a few nanoseconds in 1961, it lit up an island north of Siberia with about 1% the power output of the sun.

Nevada atomic bomb test in 1951

In other news, it's Christmas Day. I've just one-upped the Grinch.

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