Media advisory:Lab’s ‘Science on Saturday’ lecture: Using nuclear blasts to divert wayward asteroids

Feb. 10, 2009

Media advisory:Lab’s ‘Science on Saturday’ lecture: Using nuclear blasts to divert wayward asteroids

WHO: David Dearborn, LLNL scientist, and Tom Shefler, Granada High School teacher, will present, “Avoiding Armageddon: Diverting Asteroids With Nuclear Explosives.”

Every couple of years, Earth is hit by a body with energy near that of the Hiroshima bomb. Deposited high in the atmosphere, these events cause little or no damage. On longer timescales, impacts occur with the potential to destroy regions, or whole civilizations. This lecture presents an overview of the impact threat, followed by a systematic development of the requirements to divert such an object. Nuclear explosives are presented as a mature, well-characterized technology able to reduce or eliminate this threat. With decades of warning, a standoff burst can then ablate surface material and nudge the body to a safer orbit without fragmenting. For shorter times, 1,000 days before impact, a direct surface burst can shatter the body dispersing the material so much that only about 1/100,000th of the original body, still threatens.

WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 14, 2009
      Session I:     9:30 a.m.
      Session II: 11:15 a.m.
WHERE: Bankhead Theater, 2400 First St., Livermore

Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis; there is no pre-registration. Admission is free. Directions, maps and a complete list of lectures are available at Science on Saturday is presented by LLNL’s Science Education Program.

Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is a national security laboratory, with a mission to ensure national security and apply science and technology to the important issues of our time. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy�s National Nuclear Security Administration.<.