How are you today? Pretty relaxed? Most comfortable? Never mind the fact that there are a few million asteroids whizzing around our solar system that, should they collide with planet Earth, would cause a global catastrophe and potentially wipe out almost all life, and a few billions several nearby space rocks that would at least cause massive localized destruction and death?
Great. Glad to hear it. But since you’re probably thinking of asteroids now, why not totally freak yourself out by finding out how destructive and deadly one would be if it ended up in your hometown. Or for that matter, anywhere on earth.
Asteroid launcher (opens in a new tab) is a clever browser tool that invites you to pick a spot anywhere on Earth, drop asteroids of various sizes and varieties and speeds on it, and then feel your eyes widen as it shows you exactly how many people would be horribly killed and in what manner they would perish. Because it’s not just people in the impact zone that will be completely vaporized, it’s all the other things that happen afterward, like the massive resulting fireball, the devastating shock wave, the winds reaching several thousand miles per hour, and the resulting earthquakes. All the morbid but fascinating details, and the resulting deaths, are neatly laid out for you to absorb.
For example, I dropped a 2,500-foot-diameter asteroid composed of carbon on the small town I live closest to, which created a 5.7-mile-wide crater and vaporized 84,951 people. The website tells me that an impact of this size happens to the earth about every 200,000 years (I don’t really want to check how long it’s been since the last one). My home is well outside the impact zone, but then I scroll down to the first side effect of a giant lump of carbon hitting the planet at 38,000 miles per hour: the huge fireball, which would flash-fry another 1.3 million people.
For those not immediately reduced to ashes, another half a million people would suffer third-degree burns (and presumably die a little later in agony) and another million would suffer second-degree burns. (I’m horrified to see that I’m within the “clothes catch fire” radius, so to be safe I’m now removing my clothes.) The shock wave, meanwhile, would kill almost a million more, buildings within 70 miles would be flattened. , plus anyone within 40 miles would have their lungs damaged and their eardrums ruptured. Against the winds, which would feel like being in a tornado to anyone within 60 miles, and the earthquake, which would be felt 150 miles away and kill thousands more.
This is just from a single 2,500 foot asteroid, but you can use the Asteroid Launcher to make your own asteroid much bigger (or smaller), make it composed of rock, gold, or iron, and drop it anywhere on the map you want. You can even change the speed and angle of impact. Have fun?
Asteroid launcher (opens in a new tab) is the work of coder Neal Agarwal. If you enjoy witnessing the destruction of a huge space rock landing on Monte Carlo, Disney World, or downtown Chicago, Agarwal has created all kinds of cool browser-based tools and games (opens in a new tab)like ten years ago (opens in a new tab) (which shows you what the internet looked like a decade ago), Baby Map (opens in a new tab) (a country flashes every time a baby is born in it), The Auction Game (opens in a new tab) (guess how much different works of art sell for) and much more.