For years, the federal government has relied on the fact that if the world was ever threatened by some cosmic force, they could simply call up Bruce Willis to save the day. Well, it turns out that Willis may not actually be able to save the world from an asteroid.
Four students at the University of Leicester spent years researching the plausibility of Willis’ movie Armageddon and concluded that Bruce Willis is not Harry Stamper, the best miner in the world who is willing to sacrifice his own life for love and the safety of the planet. No, Bruce Willis is actually just an actor.
The paper, “Could Bruce Willis Save The World,” takes a look at the science behind the 1998 Blockbuster and, surprisingly, discovers that the movie was full of crap.
One of the paper’s authors, Ben Hall, said:
“I really enjoyed the film ‘Armageddon’ and up until recently never really considered the plausibility in the science behind the movie… But after watching it back, I found myself being more skeptical about the film in many areas. I think that directors attempt to make films scientifically accurate but find that a lot of trouble is run into in what can and cannot be done, thus leading to falsification in the science to make movies more interesting or visually appealing to the audience.”
So what was so implausible about Armageddon?
According to Hall, Gregory Brown, Ashley Back, and Stuart Turner, a number of things.
- Harry Stamper and his team would have needed to use 800 trillion terajoules of force to blow apart the asteroid. (The largest blast in history, when “Big Ivan” was set off in 1961, only resulted in 418,000 terajoules.)
- In order to have a chance, NASA would need much more than just the 18 days depicted in the movie to deflect the asteroid.
Space.com reports that Bruce Willis and Hollywood may not actually be able to help us avoid Armageddon but there are plans out there that could deflect an asteroid if necessary. One plan involves a “gravity tractor” probe which could nudge the asteroid into a safer orbit. Another involves an explosion like the one used in the 1998 movie. NASA admits, however, that if the rock were the size of Texas as depicted in the movie, it may be difficult to force it to move.
On the bright side, NASA has been working hard on asteroid detection. Hopefully they’ll be able to find a hazardous rock more than 18 days before impact.