Naked Science Forum

Non Life Sciences => Physics, Astronomy & Cosmology => Topic started by: ArmoredNightfall on 22/09/2011 18:17:19

Title: Theoretical fallout of a large ship crashing on earth?
Post by: ArmoredNightfall on 22/09/2011 18:17:19
So, I'm writing something, and I haven't the slightest clue how to calculate the result of the following scenario:

A ship approximately 2 miles long by .75 miles wide, falls into the earth. Say for instance, it was under the influence of an object that amplifies the Higgs Field's effect on it (I realize it is far more complicated than as stated, but i'm no physicist). So, if this effect is ramped up so that the ship reaches terminal velocity in mere seconds, and then crashes into the earth (on land, say in the middle of Asia, for instance), how powerful would the physical repercussions be? Feel free to ignore population statistics, i'm only worried about the "equal and opposite reaction."

Oh, and say this happened multiple times relatively close together (both in time and location). Would the effect be exponential or less than that?
Title: Theoretical fallout of a large ship crashing on earth?
Post by: MikeS on 23/09/2011 08:38:20
There are a lot of unknowns in this question and I am no expert but here goes. 

A ship of this size would have considerable mass and if travelling at terminal velocity, which to be of any use would have to be a considerable fraction of the speed of light, would contain a huge amount of kinetic energy (more due to speed than mass).  I assume it could possibly cause a global mass extinction event and once would be more than enough. 

If the terminal velocity was not of this order then the crash would probably be manageable at some local level.

Multiple 'manageable' crashes in the same area and time frame may well have an exponential effect as they would deplete the local population and the worldwide ability/willpower/resources to deal with the crisis.
Title: Theoretical fallout of a large ship crashing on earth?
Post by: ArmoredNightfall on 23/09/2011 09:00:28
Yeah, I realize there are a lot of variables, but nothing is set in stone at this point. My main concern was along the lines of 'would using this method to down a ship crack the planet apart?' I tried to do the calculations to figure out the estimated terminal velocity for a ship of that size (guesstimating mass), and the variables included pretty much blew my mind. Like I said, I'm no physicist.

I think I have my answer though. The ones controlling the Higgs Field Modifier would need to scale the effects so that the ship would reach a speed fast enough to more or less total the ship, but slow enough to keep the repercussions manageable. Now that I think about it, I could have just gone with that from the beginning instead of bothering you folks, but I appreciate you allowing me to bounce the idea off you. Grazie!
Title: Theoretical fallout of a large ship crashing on earth?
Post by: Phractality on 24/09/2011 16:15:16
Sounds like you're writing a scifi story, so reality is less important than sensationalism. Think of your ship as a meteor, but a lot less dense than a normal meteor. Since it is less dense, it will slow down in the atmosphere much more than a normal meteor, and the impact with the ground or ocean will have a lot less energy. Here's a program ( to calculate the impact parameters. Many such websites  (,or.r_gc.r_pw.&biw=960&bih=459&wrapid=tljp1316876416907027&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=iw#sclient=psy-ab&hl=en&safe=off&source=hp&q=meteor+impact+simulator&pbx=1&oq=meteor+impact+&aq=1&aqi=g4&aql=1&gs_sm=c&gs_upl=0l0l1l2503l0l0l0l0l0l0l0l0ll0l0&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.&fp=9ec99a58cca5314e&biw=960&bih=459) are available; some will produce animations of the impact.

If your ship were larger and denser, or perhaps if the crew ejected its matter-antimatter core, causing it to hit the Pacific Ocean, you might end up with a hotspot in the Earth's crust. This would produce volcanoes. After a few million years, you would have the Hawaiian Islands.