The new hotness for the boy lately has been Teen Titans Go!, which works for me because as it turns out I enjoy the program quite a lot. It’s of that genre of cartoon where at the end of every episode the slate is wiped clean for the next episode, so literally anything can happen and the next episode they just pick up and move on.
To wit: there is an episode where one character blows up the moon. And they do not all immediately die. In fact, the blowing up of the moon is more or less passed over a few minutes later once the “YOU BLEW UP THE MOON?!?” moment is over.
“Would that really kill us all?” my wife muses. “The moon’s awfully far away.”
“I think it would,” I say. And then I start trying to figure out exactly how bad that might be.
Feel free to correct my math or my thinking if I’ve made a mistake. HOWEVER:
- The average distance from the Earth to the Moon is approximately 385,000 kilometers.
- Assuming that the moon, once blown up, exploded evenly in all directions, by the time the debris field reached the earth it would form a sphere. That sphere would have a surface area of 1.86 x 1012 square kilometers– or 1,860,000,000,000 square kilometers if you don’t like scientific notation.
- This is a slight oversimplification, but we shall assume that the Earth presents as a flat disc for this scenario. The Earth’s diameter is roughly 13,000 kilometers, so the disc has an area of 133,000,000 square kilometers. That represents .00715054% of the total surface area of the sphere that the moon has exploded into.
- The mass of the moon is 80,994,200,000,000,000,000 tons. Or so.
- Excel tells me that that means that the Earth would be hit by (calculating .00715054% of 80,994,200,000,000,000,000) approximately 5,791,523,012,258,060 tons of broken moon.
- I don’t even know how to say that number.
Most of those numbers came from Google one way or another and were copy-pasted into Excel or figured out with online calculators. The mass of the moon, in particular, seems to have a fairly wide range of accepted values. I can imagine a universe where I ended up off by a factor of ten somewhere but something tells me it doesn’t make a difference.
I’m still trying to figure out if anyone has estimated the mass of the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs, or if I have an easy way to kludge that (I actually can think of one way) but I suspect the following is true:
The generally accepted diameter of the Chicxulub asteroid is six miles. This means that, assuming a perfect sphere (which isn’t true, I know), it was composed of 113.1 cubic miles of (assuming, assuming, assuming) iron. That’s 16,648,088,371,200 cubic feet of iron.
A cubic foot of iron weighs 491.09 pounds.
Multiplying, we get an asteroid that weighs 8,175,709,718,212,610 pounds. Divide that by 2000, and we get an estimate of 4,087,854,859,106 tons for the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs.
The amount of moon hitting Earth would be 141,676% of that amount.
So yeah. We’re fucked.