While I think the apocalypse will arrive as a result of us blowing ourselves up or allowing a fancy new designer virus that turns everyone into zombies to fall into the wrong hands, I’ve always been partial to The End coming as a result of an asteroid impact. (Well, that and alien invasion. What can I say, I’m a science fiction geek.)
I think it puts the human race in a slightly better light, since we wouldn’t have offed ourselves as a result of someone’s inability to play well in the sandbox. However, I also don’t think anyone’s going to be able to drill a hole in the middle of this large flying object and put a nuke in it so that it blows itself up (yes, Armageddon, I’m looking at you).
Needless to say, when I think “asteroid impact,” I think “end of the world as we know it.” After all, it killed the dinosaurs. (Well, allegedly, anyway.)
I recently came across Purdue University’s Impact Earth web application, which is great for assisting me with my doomsday thinking. This nifty little program lets you plug in your hypothetical (or not) asteroid’s dimensions, plus how far away you plan to be from the impact site. Hit Calculate and voila! A doomsday scenario, all laid out for you. (WARNING: Possible timesink.)
The only known large asteroid coming toward us anytime soon is Asteroid Apophis. While the chances of it actually hitting Earth are marginal, it’s still fun to assume the worst. That way, you can plug all of Apophis’ information into the Impact Earth application and find out exactly how much damage it can cause. Could it be like the K-T extinction asteroid impact (a.k.a. the one that supposedly killed the dinosaurs)? Or will it be more like Tunguska (that is, not fatal to the human race)?
Continuing our doomsday thinking, if Apophis does hit Earth, what do you think the damage would be? How bad? How long do you think it would take for humans to become extinct? Would humans become extinct at all?