OK, there are plenty of things to criticize about this movie from a physics perspective, but at least they get off on the right foot. The opening sequence describes pretty well the event most scientists believe killed off the dinosaurs (they even have the asteroid hitting the Earth in the correct location). It’s also true that something like this will happen again someday. After that, things get pretty sketchy to put it mildly. Of course, there is the obligatory destruction of NY City, even though the likelihood of a few stray meteors hitting one of the most populous cities on Earth are remote to say the least (remember 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered with water, so most likely the meteors are going to hit an ocean). Still, I find this movie entertaining. To me it never appears to take itself too seriously and there are some very humorous scenes. I’ll admit to even getting caught up in the stories of heroism and personal sacrifice. But when it comes right down to it, NASA’s plan to save the world (as portrayed in the movie) is pure bunk; it just wouldn’t work, as we’ll discover in class.
Assignment: Come up with a plan of your own to save the Earth; hopefully one that will work. Remember, this scenario (asteroid collision threatening all humanity) will happen sooner or later, so it would be good to have a working plan. Please be specific in your plan and show me that it’s going to work. This is a good assignment to demonstrate your creativity, too. You certainly don’t need to follow the movie’s lead and split the asteroid with a nuclear bomb. If you’re stuck, I encourage you to brainstorm with other members of the class or do some research.
Please post your response to your blog by Sunday, 24 Sep.