NASA

We Need Space Lasers – Cartoon Logic

You might’ve missed this, but about three weeks ago, a Hiroshima-bomb sized explosion occurred above the Atlantic Ocean. Wait, what? Yeah, apparently no one noticed until a few days ago. You see, a big ol’ chunk o’ rock thumped into our atmosphere and blew up. Luckily, it was over the ocean, so everything was fine. But we didn’t know it was coming, and it could’ve struck just about anywhere. Now, the Near Earth Object guys have assured me that we haven’t got any end-of-days meteors coming our way any time soon. This is good. But these vicious little ones, while unlikely to cause the apocalypse, could easily level a city or two. And we basically have no defence, beyond spotting them and moving people out of the way. Therefore, on behalf of the people of Earth, I demand that our governments immediately invest in a load of space lasers.

Space lasers! Like from Star Wars, but in real life. We all know how dangerous a little laser can be (see that aeroplane from the other week). What we need is a colossal one. Maybe a few colossal ones. Dot them about the planet for best coverage and we’re safe. Vaporise meteors before they enter the atmosphere. What, you’re not convinced? Maybe the science isn’t there yet, but the threat definitely is.

In 1908, an absolutely massive chunk of rock somewhere like 100 metres across exploded in the atmosphere above the complete middle of nowhere in Tunguska, Siberia. The explosion was a thousand times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, and nearly as powerful as the most powerful nuclear weapon we human fools ever built. It destroyed 80,000,000 trees and levelled an area larger than Greater London is today. Incredibly frightening. But get this. It occurred on nearly the same latitude as Saint Petersburg, the then capital of the Russian Empire. If that nasty old blump of space dirt was just five hours late, if the Earth had had time to spin around, then Saint Petersburg would’ve been utterly destroyed. Now, I don’t know if you know your history, but a lot of important Russian-Revolution-Soviet-Union-style business occurred in Saint Petersburg in the years following 1908. Suffice to say, the Tunguska event happening over Saint Petersburg would’ve completed changed world history. (No First World War, Russian Revolution, Second World War or even Cold War, mayhaps?) But for a few hours, history would’ve been utterly different.

1908 was big, but it wasn’t an isolated incident. In 1911, 10 kilograms of space stone careered out of the sky and hit Egypt. No humans were hurt but, as the legend goes, a poor little dog from the village of Denshal was hit by a bit and was immediately vaporised. In 1954, Ms Hodges from Alabama was napping on her sofa when a grapefruit-sized interplanetary missile smashed through the roof of her house, bounced off her radio and bashed into her, bruising her all up one side. In 2007, a meteor whacked into a Peruvian village, spewing noxious gasses as it went and loads of people got ill. And I’m sure you remember 2013 and the Chelyabinsk meteor that fireballed itself into oblivion above the Ural Mountains. It shattered windows across Chelyabinsk city, spraying 1,500 people with broken glass and causing $30,000,000 of damage. The danger is real.

What did we ever do to space to deserve this? That’s what I want to know. Ok, we’re constantly firing rockets at it, but most of them fall back to Earth, or just stay gently in orbit. And yes, maybe the International Space Station does count as an occupation, but we’re only occupying a very, very, very small section of space. Why has space gotta be so angry? The solution for dealing with our giant, belligerent neighbour is a defence, and that defence is lasers.

There will, of course, be unintended consequences. 1998’s blockbuster twins Deep Impact and Armageddon would’ve turned out very differently, I think. Imagine the dialogue:

Bruce Willis (for it is he): There’s a big space rock coming our way! My job is drilling for oil, but I can probably save us even though I have absolutely no astronaut experience whatsoever and will doubtless have to sacrifice myself dramatically in the process!

Science People: Hold on Bruce! Is the space laser on?

Bruce Willis: Yeah, I think so.

Science People: We’ve got it covered. Go back to drilling for oil.

Bruce Willis: Oh. Never mind then…

Anyway, these are the reasons we should definitely invest in a global system of space lasers. I was thinking they should be Death Star green, and that we’d need a big red button to fire them. Put in at the United Nations, or maybe on top of a pyramid or something. A pyramid is a good idea, because meteors seem to like falling on national monuments first and foremost. We just need to be careful to keep the controls away from kids and teenagers. Before you know it, they’d be trying to blind aliens as they fly through the Solar System. Then we really would be in trouble.


Trump Clock 25 02 16

This week, the Trumpsday Clock powers forward to FIVE MINUTES to Trumpsday. With all the inevitability of a space rock hurtling toward the Earth, Donald Trump is hurtling towards the Republican nomination. He’s had three significant victories this week. He took South Carolina, scalped Jeb Bush, then stormed Nevada. Only Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz really have a chance of stopping him now. A win on Super Tuesday (the day ten states nominate their candidate, this year, the 1st of March) might seal the deal. He’s still five minutes away, though, because he’s still got to defeat Bernie Saunders or Hillary Clinton, and those are going to be the toughest five minutes yet.

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