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RE: starship-design: New drive design

On Tuesday, September 16, 1997 8:55 AM, jimaclem@juno.com 
[SMTP:jimaclem@juno.com] wrote:
> Okay, here goes.
> 1:  The asteroid wont even hit Earth, until, lo and behold it collides
> with a comet that happens to be passing by, which of course alters its
> course.
> 2:  The statement of an astronomer tracking it, five minutes to impact,
> 25000 mile out.  Works out to 300,000 miles per hour
> 3:  I don't remember what the stated size was, but we launch a Titan
> missile to intercept, and the Russians launch something similar.  The two
> impact the asteroid at well beyond the orbit of the Hubble (actually
> showed them passing it, slow enough to see it of course!) and vaporize
> the darn thing!  No debris to hit Earth of course.
> Now, I know that its perfectly possible for an asteroid to hit us, but
> the science mistakes in this were glaring.  Makes us all look bad to
> those who don't know any better.
> Jim C.
> Duck and cover!

Gee, I thought it was the Australian aborigine predicting it 2,000 years in 
advance! Course,
I've sort of gotten inured to SF movies treatment of fact and gotten used 
to overlooking there foibles.

As for the rest of it well...let's try this on for size. It is fairly well 
accepted that there are ten rocks out there for every one we know of. If a 
known large asteroid on a near miss were to collide with an unknown but 
relatively dense asteroid, the collision COULD produce sufficient change in 
its orbit to cause it to impact Earth, BUT even so, it would have to occur 
far enough away as to give us PLENTY of time to se it coming.

There is no way a relatively light comet is going to cause this to happen 
in the time frame presented. Even then, we might want to think twice before 
attempting this. Fact of the matter is the resulting cloud of small 
asteroids would cause more damage than the big one in the long run. Unless 
we can VAPORIZE the asteroid, this would be a bad move. Who wants a 
trillion tons of RADIOACTIVE asteroid raining down on their hemisphere?