October 16, 2013
The Plans to Use Nuclear Weapons to Blow Up Incoming Asteroids

When planetary scientist H. Jay Melosh attended a meeting between nuclear weapons designers from the United States and the former Soviet Union in May 1995, he was surprised by how eagerly the ex-Cold Warriors sought to work together against an unlikely but dangerous extraterrestrial threat: asteroids on a collision course with Earth.
After Edward Teller, father of the American hydrogen bomb, urged others in the session at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to consider building and orbiting large, new, nuclear weapons for planetary protection, some top Russian weaponeers in attendance voiced their support.
“It was a really bizarre thing to see that these weapons designers were willing to work together—to build the biggest bombs ever,” said Melosh, a geophysicist at Purdue University and expert in space impacts who has an asteroid named after him.
Ever since, he has been pushing back against relying on nuclear bombs for the Earth’s defense, arguing that a non-nuclear solution—diverting the trajectory of asteroids by hitting them with battering rams — is both possible and much less dangerous.
Read more. [Image: Russian Emergency Ministry]

The Plans to Use Nuclear Weapons to Blow Up Incoming Asteroids

When planetary scientist H. Jay Melosh attended a meeting between nuclear weapons designers from the United States and the former Soviet Union in May 1995, he was surprised by how eagerly the ex-Cold Warriors sought to work together against an unlikely but dangerous extraterrestrial threat: asteroids on a collision course with Earth.

After Edward Teller, father of the American hydrogen bomb, urged others in the session at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to consider building and orbiting large, new, nuclear weapons for planetary protection, some top Russian weaponeers in attendance voiced their support.

“It was a really bizarre thing to see that these weapons designers were willing to work together—to build the biggest bombs ever,” said Melosh, a geophysicist at Purdue University and expert in space impacts who has an asteroid named after him.

Ever since, he has been pushing back against relying on nuclear bombs for the Earth’s defense, arguing that a non-nuclear solution—diverting the trajectory of asteroids by hitting them with battering rams — is both possible and much less dangerous.

Read more. [Image: Russian Emergency Ministry]

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    The Plans to Use Nuclear Weapons to Blow Up Incoming Asteroids
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    To Edward Teller, nuclear weapons were the proverbial hammer in search of a nail. Defense? Of course! Planetary...
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