Will a Bad Movie Make For Good Science? Europeans Plan Mission To Destroy Asteroid

It made for one of the worst movies of all time, but the plot of Armageddon is now the operational plans for the European Space Agency. The ESA plans to fire a satellite at an asteroid in 2015 to see if it can destroy (or change the course) of an asteroid. Since Armageddon almost destroyed the career of Bruce Willis, there is hope for ESA.

The target may be a 1600ft-wide asteroid called 99942 Apophis, which has a one in 250,000 chance of hitting Earth in 2036. They will use Hidalgo, which will ram into the asteroid at a speed of around six miles a second. That is either a space craft or, with Spain’s plunge into bankruptcy, the Europeans are playing to shoot persons of the Spanish nobility into space.

Source: Daily Mail

78 thoughts on “Will a Bad Movie Make For Good Science? Europeans Plan Mission To Destroy Asteroid”

  1. However, speaking of the end of the world, the Concise Oxford English Dictionary has added the word “woot“.

  2. Too much or too little – tis a conundrum. Very few people have an Erdös-Bacon number of less than infinity. Those that do… well, that really would be saying too much. And I didn’t call nothing – it responded on its own. Really.

  3. LOL, You and Elaine work well in the ‘call and response’ mode. I’m a haiku fan, well done.

    When all of your numbers come together (a Bacon would be impressive for us pop-culture aficionados) what? I fear you’ve said too much. 😉

  4. lotta ^..^,

    Thanks. I usually don’t let my freak flag fly that freely (and I have NO idea where the poetry came from… that’s kind of a scary place that I mostly avoid) but my stream of consciousness often dances on the line (whatever line that may be) until I beat it into submission.

    I’m happy being an Erdös-4, but what I really want now is a Bacon number. Then my evil plans will be complete… BWA-HA-HA-ha-ha… um… er… well… yeah. That would be nice.


    Simon Green is next on my reading list – he was recommended by an old friend I recently reconnected with. He’s the person responsible for getting me started on Heinlein, Asimov (and the rest… ;-)), fractal geometry, object-oriented programming, atheism, and a bunch of other good stuff. He thinks it’s similar to the Dresden Files books by Jim Butcher (my favorite current author) and his success rate with recommendations is extremely high, so I’ve pretty much got to check that out… After that… I don’t know, I’m kinda busy right now, so I’m not sure that much casual reading is in my future anytime soon (which is a bummer…). I really need to start making a reading list for all of the recommendations I’ve been getting.

  5. Slart,

    The Amber series is good. As long as you know where to stop (it’s a lot like the Foundation Series that way). Lord of Light however is my favorite of his books.

    If you’re looking for science in your fiction, Lem usually does a good job (depending on the book, The Invincible is good science, and the mathematician in you would get a kick from Chain of Chance ), and my wife swears by the biology in Scott Sigler’s Books. Also, you could just sign up on Goodreads.com and check my list. Peter Watts is another good one. He actually sites the papers he read researching his books. Blind Sight has a very interesting take on consciousness. I’ve been pretty good about adding to it the last couple years.

    Mike S,

    Just finished Use of Weapons which might be my favorite Culture novel.

  6. Slartibartfast and run-on sentences.

    My hat is off to you. I have found a kindred spirit, many of my postings start off in that vein and are beaten into a more conventional structure with liberally applied (appropriate or not) punctuation.

    A Erdos number of 4 beats an Erdos number of infinity, LOL, congratulations.

  7. Gene H: “This conversation is a fine example of entropy. I go to bed and it’s a nice orderly discussion about asteroids and comets. I awake to find it decaying into Tyche, rogue planets and 2012

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that 🙂

    Regarding Slarti’s comment that you better not go to sleep, I recall an old story (the name is lost to me though) about an older man that is the maintenance man for a large, Rube Goldberg type machine that takes up his entire garage. It keeps the world running properly. If something breaks a plane falls from the sky etc. He is looking for someone he can hand the job off to as he ages…

    I think it was a TV episode of some series but I don’t think it was The Twilight Zone. I think there is a second career in your future. 🙂

  8. Mike,

    I always liked “Lord of Light” – the only Zelaszny I’ve ever read… It’s about a planet where science has made people into gods (at least they pretend to be [mostly hindu] gods…) – one of my favorites from my misspent youth… Anyway, screw psychotherapy, I want to invent psychohistory! (it all comes back to Asimov in the end…)

  9. Gene,

    Seriously? I didn’t know that. I like one of his stories where a ship ends up in the distant future (due to an accident) when the Earth is phase-locked to the sun (like the moon is to the earth). They end up crashing the ship on the Earth and using the engine to restart its rotation.

  10. Slarti,

    Niven did some good stuff, as did Asimov etc. I must admit though to being more of a Zelaszny type of guy and he did nothing to explain the peculiar physics of Amber and Chaos. That’s why you’re a scientist and I’m a psychotherapist. One field is based on experiments and facts and the other is…….psychotherapy.

  11. Slartibartfast,

    It should be noted, however, that in the fairly rare first edition paperback of “Ringworld”, Niven did have the Earth rotating in the wrong direction.

  12. Mike,

    Larry Niven is always good for putting more science in your fiction (I especially like “Convergent Series” – that one’s based on some simple math…).

    Plan 9 didn’t really have any physics in it (they didn’t explain how the spaceships worked, for example), so someone like me (barring the experiment you suggest) can easily judge the movie on its other merits. Armageddon, on the other hand, pretty much nullifies my (and many other people’s) ability to suspend disbelief (which is easily done in movies that don’t have any pretense of physical accuracy) – thus I can never get to the other merits (or lack of same) of the movie at all.

  13. Slarti,

    I know nothing substantive about physics except for shallow overviews of its
    major theories. My only course was in high school, about 50 years ago and that went barely beyond a smattering of Relativity. Everything I’ve really learned about physics is from Science Fiction and when you take Andre Norton into account i must be a virtual physics illiterate. I do know enough though from TV to appreciate that those doing theoretical physics are among the smartest, most interesting people around.

    That said I do know movies and movie making. Armageddon may have had a ridiculous premise from a scientific point of view, but it was an adequately
    bad film cinematically. Plan 9 failed on all counts, unless you take the high on pot factor into account. Just the scene of the Alien robot in the monkey costume, space helmet for a head, standing next to a bubble machine weapon having a nervous breakdown, shows it to be the nadir of movie making.

  14. Mike S,

    While I would agree that Plan 9 is the best bad movie ever (the replacement for Lugosi that was like half his height is classic), it is not even in the running for the worst movie physics ever. Armageddon is, and it’s only serious competition is The Core. Plan 9 is a horrible MOVIE, but the physics in The Core and Armageddon are so bad that anyone with a solid understanding of physics risks an aneurism by watching – seriously, the nearly continuous and egregious violations of the laws of nature in that movie make it impossible (at least for me) to enjoy it as a movie regardless of the quality of the acting/dialogue.

  15. “All you people are missing the point of this outrageous accusation. One of the worst movies of all time?”

    Geeba Geeba,

    I must agree with you on this. It was a bad movie but was far better than the worst movies of all time. My nomination for that goes to “Plan 9 From Outer Space”. Compared to it Armageddon was Shakepearean.

  16. This conversation is a fine example of entropy. I go to bed and it’s a nice orderly discussion about asteroids and comets. I awake to find it decaying into Tyche, rogue planets and 2012. That just goes to show what happens when you leave the universe unattended. If we are all going to die in 2012, the leading and likely cause of our demise will be that second most common element in the universe (next to hydrogen); human stupidity.

    By the way, I’m a big fan of the gravity tractor idea.

    It’s an elegant solution provided having enough time to implement it.

  17. Okay, I’ll give it a go, but then I’ve got to go to bed… I’ll also address your points backwards.

    I’m a big fan of Larry Niven – I’d like to be able to simulate the orbit (complete with tides and relativistic effects) of Beowulf Schaeffer’s ship in Neutron Star – but the best argument against the LHC doomsayers is that there are higher energy collisions going on in the upper atmosphere right now and we’re not having any problems with black holes which seems pretty persuasive to me, not that heat death is any less dead than swallowed by a black hole and, by the way, the forces you’re looking for are strong, weak, electromagnetic, and gravitational (people forget about the electromagnetic in the bigger pictures [solar system and above], but Hans Alfven thought that it was a big player and his theories make sense to me…) beer, on the other hand, goes well with supper in a way that coffee just can’t match although stimulants and math go together like Paul Erdos and… well… stimulants (my Erdos number is 4, by the way…) as for the dwarf planets, given that we’re not sure about something 4 times the size of Jupiter that might be hanging out in our neighborhood, I’m not sure how soon we’d be able to see a rogue planet bearing down on our solar system especially if it weren’t in the ecliptic which odds are it wont be, of course it probably wouldn’t actually hit anything but it could conceivably disturb the current orbits of the planets which could potentially be catastrophic – not so much on the catastrophe would be planet X (which, as you say, is not real except in the mind of some real lunatics…) in any case, solar system formation is not, at present, well understood and there may be some sort of prodigal son out in the Oort cloud or just wandering the galaxy never to return… how’s that?

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