Asteroids and monkeys

An asteroid destroying the EarthAsteroids & monkeys? What is the connection I hear you say. Well, the simple answer is this:

I was listening to an old podcast of the BBC radio 4 series, The Infinite Monkey Cage and they were talking about the earth being hit by an extraterrestrial object, an asteroid mainly.

The next part of this post, we have to assume that we have been able to detect this object on a collision course with us. If we can do this tricky task and get a fix on it and when it will strike the planet we can do some things to protect this planet.

If we believe Hollywood, then all we need to do is send up some astronauts, semi-trained oil workers or some kid with heroic flatulence.

With these people selected, then the plan normally involves one of these outcomes.

  1. Strap a large nuclear device. It has to be nuclear, I’m not sure why. It may just be down to film convention as I’m sure the same can be done with a couple of hundred kilos of C4
  2. Embed rockets to the object and fly it out the way.

These are the two, major, clichéd ways of stopping the asteroid hitting the earth. They both have their disadvantages. Firstly, exploding the object will just produce more objects. A “shotgun effect”! The second method mentioned above is just as ludicrous. Huge weight of material, how do you take enough fuel to the object. The list goes on and on and on…

I suggest a much simpler , and possibly the best one.

Why not paint one side?

All we would need is a couple of thousand kilos of paintballs, an orbiter fitted with a paintball gun and we’re away. Using paintballs instead of paint will have two effects. Firstly, the impact of the balls will nudge the danger slightly and secondly the paint will also increase this defection.

This uses a phenomenon called the Yarkovsky effect. Depending on what colour we paint it will depend on which way we want to deflect it. Paint it black it will go one way, white the other.  Then bingo! The Earth is saved.