I’m so tired of 2020. We’ve seen a global pandemic that’s transformed life for most of us, apocalyptic wildfires, the killing of George Floyd and the ensuring social unrest, the stock market plummeting, the chaotic US presidential election and, oh yeah, the murder hornets.
Now, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is warning that there’s an asteroid barreling towards Earth that could smash into us on November 2nd, one day before the polls open.
Asteroid 2018VP1, a refrigerator-sized space-rock, is hurtling towards us at more than 40,000 km/hr.
It may buzz-cut Earth on Nov 2, the day before the Presidential Election.
It’s not big enough to cause harm. So if the World ends in 2020, it won’t be the fault of the Universe. pic.twitter.com/eiy9G9w4Ez
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) October 18, 2020
Fine, whatever, chuck it on the pile of horrible things we have to deal with 24/7. Fortunately, this won’t be a Deep Impact or Armageddon type situation, as Tyson points out that Asteroid 2018VP1 is about the size of a refrigerator, meaning that even a dead-on collision at 40,000 km/hr wouldn’t be the end of life as we know it. But this doesn’t mean it’d be plain sailing for anyone caught under it, as the kinetic energy of even a relatively small object can cause enormous damage.
I’ve modelled the impact of a refrigerator-sized asteroid on a web app, selecting the White House as its target as it’s an election year. It turns out that Asteroid 2018VP1 scoring a direct hit on the Oval Office would completely destroy the West Wing and instantly kill anyone within, leaving a large smoking crater in the ground. Almost everyone in the White House complex would then perish in a massive blast of superheated air and those that didn’t would suffer horrific burns. Even people outside the initial blast radius aren’t going to have a great day due to the sudden presence of shattered glass, splintered wood and shards of metal flying through the air at high speeds.
Right now, it looks like 2018VP1 is going to pass between us and the Moon, which Tyson describes as giving the Earth a “buzz-cut.” But it’s 2020, a year which has repeatedly proved that the worst and dumbest thing that can happen, will happen. So, come November 2nd, I’m going to be keeping an eye on the sky and I suggest you do the same.