This week, it was revealed a massive asteroid similar to the one that wiped out the dinosaurs was hurtling towards Earth and could be “potentially hazardous”. However, scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson says large space rocks, like the 1990 MU, which measures almost 5 miles in diameter, should not phase us. Instead, the American astrophysicist has insisted the public should be more concerned about smaller asteroids that have the potential to sneak under the radar unnoticed.
Appearing on a Joe Rogan podcast last year, Dr Tyson explained how it is easy to defend Earth against threats we can easily see.
He said: “It’s all about how much timing we have, what you want to do is go out and nudge it.
“You just have to give it a sideways velocity relative to its path towards Earth.
“If you do that, the sideways velocity sort of accumulates and the angle grows.
An asteroid could wipe out a city
Asteroids are large chunks of space rock
The city killing ones will slip through
“If you do that early enough it will miss Earth, but it’s still out there to harm you at another day.”
However, the Harvard University graduate offered more dim prospects for smaller asteroids.
He added: “I would say we could probably get something built in 10 years.
“The good thing about species killing asteroids is that they are large and visible.
“But city killing ones will slip through.
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Neil deGrasse Tyson featured on the Joe Rogan podcast
“Most of Earth’s surface is not a city, so it will probably hit the ocean.
“But yeah, if it doesn’t, it would take out a city.”
Dr Tyson went on to claim the US government is already planning for such an attack.
He continued: “There’s a branch of government part of Homeland Security where it worries about devastation to a region where the grid is taken out as well.
“Then you can’t bring emergency services with food, water, medicines, transportation.
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An asteroid is believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs
Dr Tyson worries history could repeat itself
“We need a grid that can rewire itself rapidly to bring power to a region.
“They are sort of doing that now by making it lightning-proof.”
Dr Tyson previously warned asteroid Apophis could spark a tsunami on the US coast.
He said in 2008: “If it goes through the keyhole, it will plunge down into the Pacific Ocean to a depth of three miles, at which point it explodes, caveating the Pacific in a hole that’s three miles wide.
That will send a tsunami wave outwards from that location that is 50 feet high.
Untapped value of asteroids
“Oceans don’t like having holes in them, so this three-mile-high wall does what? It collapses.
“It falls back into the hole sloshing against itself with such ferocity that it rises high into the atmosphere and falls back down to the ocean, caveating it again.
“This cycle takes about 50 seconds, you can calculate it.”
He then revealed the sobering prospects for North America in such a scenario.
He continued: “So there you are on the beaches of Malibu and a tsunami comes in.
“The first wave needs a supply of water to exist, so the next wave actually sucks back on it to create itself.
“Whatever was there on the coastline is now brought back out to sea and the next tsunami brings it back to the shore.
“So what happens is, all the artificial stuff, all the houses, factories, they get churned into the force that sandblasts the entire west coast of North America clean.
“It’s April 12, 2029, and if it threads the keyhole it will hit Earth on April 13, 2036.”