APOPHIS TOM MAZANEC 2029 Dr. Kenazam walked into the Oval Office with the report. The new POTUS sat in his chair. Both had very worried expressions on their faces. "Why the hell is this happening? You eggheads said that there was only one chance in 500 of this scenario!" "One chance is not no chance. From pre-passage observations of Apophis, there was a band of several score miles where it could make its close approach to Earth. The gravitational keyhole that would divert it to an impact trajectory for 2036 was only a few hundred yards long. But Apophis passed through it. It will hit the Earth south of California on Easter Sunday, April 13, 2036. It will impact with a force of 880 megatons, one thousand times that of the bombs used in the Indo-Paki nuclear exchange combined." "What about blowing it up with a nuke of our own? It's only the size of a skyscraper. Couldn't we just send an ICBM to blast it into rubble?" "An ICBM would destroy it only when it was already approaching Earth. It would simply convert the spash of a stone into a splash of a handful of pebbles. And they would be radioactive pebbles. There would still be a tsunami that would destroy every city on the Pacific coastline." "It is still seven years away and out in interplanetary space. Could we hit it with a bomb while it is still far away?" "Our space program, especially our interplanetary ones, have been cut back for almost twenty years. It would take more than the seven years we have to build a rocket able to travel to the asteroid and hit it with a nuke." "What about the diversion project? That was proposed years ago! Can't you revive it?" "We proposed that after observations in 2011 and 2013 made Apophis more threatening. But it was voted down...a combination of the Public Debt after the Great Recession and the "giggle factor". You were a Congressman back then, Mr. President. How did you vote on the proposal? It failed by only a single vote." "YOU KNOW THE GODDAMN MOTHERFUCK HOW I VOTED!! Why can't you just start the project now?" "We would only be able to divert the asteroid by a few thousand miles. We could only get there a matter of a few months before impact. We could make it hit Siberia at best...that is the scenario with the lowest fatality estimates." "Khoroshtsev has already informed me that diverting Apophis to Siberia would be construed as an Act of War and would be responded to appropriately. He is determined to evacuate Russia's Pacific coast and ride out the storm. And with their arsenal they can make that stick. What other scenarios did you come up with?" "We can bring it down in Cental America or the north coast of South America. It would require evacuating millions, and we could not guarantee a land strike to avoid a tsunami. We could also bring it down in the Atlantic, but that would just change the coastal cities in peril. Can't you make Khoroshtsev see reason?" "He knows that this is his chance to set the rest of the world back worse than his country and to resume its position as a superpower. Why can't you divert the asteroid by the amount you proposed in 2013?" "Because the later we start the diversion, the smaller the amount we can divert it. We would have to get there years in advance, not months. Even with a vastly larger budget we could not get there in time. Nine women cannot have a baby in one month." "Get out of here and get to work. You have a blank check. Stop this from happening." Dr. Kenazam sighed. "Yes, Mr. President." He put the report on the President's desk. He had a feeling President Anderson would not be re-elected in 2032.