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Purdue website calculates asteroid damage

November 13, 2010

As if you didn’t have enough to fret about, Purdue University has come up with a website that allows one to calculate how much damage a comet or asteroid would cause if it hit Earth.

At www.purdue.edu/impactearth, you can even get an estimate on how long it will take the deadly air blast to reach your location and tear you asunder.

The site is “scientifically accurate enough” to be used by the Department of Homeland Security and NASA, but friendly enough for elementary school students, says Jay Melosh, distinguished professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at Purdue and the brain behind the site.

There are no Hollywood special effects simulating the outcome of a blast—just data, so the kids shouldn’t need counseling afterward.

Hate Chicago? You can customize your asteroid and pretend it’s headed for the Windy City. The site says a 328-foot, nickel-iron asteroid hitting 20 miles outside Chicago would deliver the equivalent of 97 megatons of TNT. The site even calculates the seismic effects: a magnitude 6 earthquake shaking the city for about six seconds after it’s annihilated. Take that, Bears fans.

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