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How big an asteroid would annihilate Wales? New interactive map has the answer

08 Dec 2022 3 minute read
The asteroid launcher map

How big an asteroid would it take to annihilate Wales? A new interactive map has the answer.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the answer is not ‘an asteroid the size of Wales’. In fact, it would only take an asteroid 1,700 feet long – about the distance from Cardiff Castle to the National Museum – for everyone in Wales to be blown away by its impact.

Placed right at the centre of Wales, near Llanidloes, such a strike would kill 500,000 people in the fireball, while everyone in Wales would receive at least 2nd-degree burns.

The Asteroid launcher website, created by Neal Agarwal and based on research by Dr. Gareth Collins and Dr. Clemens Rumpf, allows you to experiment with asteroids of any size, speed, angle and composition. If you want to imagine going out in ultimate style, aim a 100 mile long solid-gold asteroid at your house.

The website allows you to see the size of the fireball, shockwave, and earthquake that would result.

It demonstrates that an asteroid large enough to kill pretty much everyone in Wales would require quite a bit of oomph. It would need to be 0.7 miles across – about the distance from Cardiff Castle to the Cardiff Central train station.

Dropped near Llangurig it would wipe out 8,393,171 in the resulting fireball – taking out much of Birmingham as well. 115,783 people would also die in the shock wave, 5,324,779 people would die from the wind blast reaching as far as the shores of France, and 16,619 people from the earthquake.

It would leave a crater 2,337 ft deep and release as much energy as the Yellowstone earthquake.

The good news is that such an asteroid impact only happens every 1.1 million years. However, scientists are unsure when the last impact of this size was.

Over the last century, the most significant asteroid to have struck the Earth was one the size of a small building that flew over Russia in 2013. Over 1,400 people were injured in the blast according to Russian authorities.

The 65 metre-across Tunguska meteor that hit the Earth in 1908 flattened 2,000 square kilometres of forest, but thankfully landed in the sparsely populated Eastern Siberia and may have only killed three people.

‘Release valve’

Neal Agarwal who created the website told Motherboard that he loved “playing out disaster scenarios in my head”.

“I’ve always wanted a tool that would help visualize the effects of some major natural disaster,” he said.

“Asteroids are a good choice since their effects are so far-reaching. I think the tool could also help people gain more appreciation for our need to deflect asteroids like in NASA’s DART mission.”

He added: “Asteroid impact simulation is a whole area of research and it can get pretty complicated, with supercomputers needed to get the most accurate results.

“But luckily there’s also tons of great resources like Dr. Gareth Collins’ scientific papers that simplify the equations and make them more accessible.

“It definitely seems to be a release valve for some as I’ve seen people fling asteroids at their workplace and rival sports teams.

“My favourite comment from Reddit was ‘I had a fun time finding an asteroid that was big enough to destroy my workplace but not my apartment’.”


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Size…For those up North two Bridges across the Mawddach…

Argol fawr!
Argol fawr!
1 month ago

The impact crater left by the Tory mess will be bigger.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Argol fawr!

Only in your head buddy. This potential for mass extinction by a single strike of an asteroid is the most sobering thing of all. No matter how greedy the elites are in screwing money off the general population they will have nowhere to hide if one of these beauties comes rattling by. It doesn’t need a direct hit as a glancing blow will put materialistic values straight into the bin and any survivors will be back to hunting and gathering if there’s much left to hunt and gather. Indeed the survivors might end up being hunted and gathered.

Argol fawr!
Argol fawr!
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Good grief, you thought I was serious! Probability wise, worry about the tories for now mate.

Last edited 1 month ago by Argol fawr!
Cynan again
Cynan again
1 month ago

Are we hiring contributors form the Daily Torygraph now? This article smells like the latest in a series of “How Could We Wipe Out Wales?” articles by that worthless rag

Steve A Duggan
Steve A Duggan
1 month ago

A baby compared to the 6 mile one that knocked out the dinos. I’m not going to lose too much sleep, mind you, have more pressing things on my mind like – how much the next energy is likely to be!

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
1 month ago

Nice to see that Neal Agarwal has taken the trouble to read a lot of the scientific papers, distil the key stuff and produce this site. It strkes me as a good example of how science can be shared in a way that everybody can understand and lots of young folk might be inspired by it. Ok its a bit like a ‘shoot em up’ game but wotking out how big and asteroid one would need to wipe out (say) London or Llanidloes gives a feel for things like mass and velocity.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

Forget about any asteroid or meteor destroying Wales. That’s already occurred with Unionist Labour/Tory rule.

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