Cosmic Queries: Defending our Planet, with Bill Nye

Aerial view of Meteor Crater near Winslow, Arizona. The crater is the result of an impact of a 40- to 50-meter iron-nickel asteroid roughly 50,000 years ago. Caption and credit: NASA.
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About This Episode

The universe is a hostile place. What would we do if a planet-destroying asteroid or comet strike were imminent? Do we have plans in place? Bill Nye is back on StarTalk Radio alongside comic co-host Chuck Nice to answer these questions, and a lot more fan-submitted Cosmic Queries, concerning planetary defense. Learn about the policies and plans currently in place to handle an asteroid or comet event. Explore the possibility of using ground based lasers to hit asteroids millions of miles away. Discover how we might deflect an asteroid’s trajectory by using the gravity of another object, or by putting a reflecting shield on an asteroid in order for sunlight to change its movements. Find out why detecting asteroids in space is like finding charcoal bricks in the dark. You’ll also learn about using asteroids to destroy other asteroids. In the Lightning Round, Bill and Chuck answer questions about sonic technology, using solar sails to change an asteroid’s direction, and why sending Bruce Willis and a rag-tag group of drillers to blow up an asteroid, like in the film Armageddon, would probably just make things worse. Plus, you’ll hear Bill discuss the biggest threat to humanity – and it’s not an asteroid or a comet.

 

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