Catastrophe Calculator: Estimate Asteroid Impact Effects Online

Ah, now I see. The Web can provide us with some rather unorthodox ways to spend our free time. Take estimating an asteroid’s impact effects online for instance…

The history of Earth’s encounters with asteroids remains largely mysterious to scientists. They can’t even agree whether a huge space rock that hit Mexico’s Yucatan Penninsula 65 million years ago killed off the dinosaurs or not.

Nor can astronomers say when the next catastrophic impact will occur. They only know that it will happen, sooner or later.

However, now anyone with a passing interest in the fate of the planet can remove some of the mystery regarding the effects of the next collision. A new University of Arizona web page allows visitors to plug in a hypothetical space rock’s size, the visitor’s distance from the impact site, and other parameters to generate an outline of devastation.

But be warned: Removing the mystery invites a bit of terror over the hypothetical slams, bangs, fireballs, falling skies and rushing winds generated by a giant impact. [Read the rest]