Courtesy of Touchstone
A Ph.D. student from Australia has won an international prize for her plan to prevent an asteroid from colliding with the Earth, reports the Register. Mary D’Souza from University of Queensland’s School of Engineering has proposed covering Apophis — a minor planet that’s expected to pass close to Earth in 2029 — in a Mylar sheet, using solar radiation to push it off its path. So why are you reading about this on Vulture, a blog authored by two doofuses who haven’t thought about science since high school? Because, as /Film hilariously points out, the exact same asteroid-moving technique was proposed in Michael Bay’s 1998 actioner Armageddon but ultimately rejected as less practical than rocketing Ben Affleck into space with a nuclear warhead.
In the movie, scientists tell Billy Bob Thornton (who played the head of NASA), “We want to land a craft, deploy solar sails. You’ll have a great big canopy. Solar winds will be caught by these Mylar sails!” To which Thornton replies: “Come, on guys! We’ve gotta come up with something realistic here!” D’Souza’s paper (titled “A Body Solar Sail Concept for the Deflection of 99942 Apophis”), though, apparently claims that such a thing is completely realistic and apparently our best-possible hope for preventing a real-life Armageddon. With this out of the way, the scientific community can now focus its attention on proving that Transformers’ Shia LaBeouf makes a crappy action hero.
Aussie has answer to save Earth from asteroid attack [Register]
Australian Woman Wins Prize for Earth-Saving Technique Rejected in Michael Bay’s “Armageddon” [/Film]