Asteroid impact: You're going to die. What do you do to your loved ones?

Just suppose this large impact simulation actually happened (LGT a video simulation of a 500km asteroid striking the earth. In a nutshell, we all die, pretty horribly, though to be fair it looks like a pretty fast death when it comes). I am assuming that the shock wave would travel fairly quickly around the globe, but that “fairly quickly” in global terms is not instantaneous, I’m thinking long enough for someone on the other side of the planet to know what’s coming (15 minutes? 30? 45? Maybe as long as a couple of hours? I do not know how long it would take, can anyone help me out?) and to realize that there is absolutely nothing that can be done (unless they have a rocket ready to launch that they can stick their baby in, sending him to, oh, I dunno, Krypton), death is inevitable.

Now suppose this person on the other side of the planet is you. You’re gathered with your family, knowing that before too long, all of you will be killed by the shock wave/firestorm approaching. You have a gun/syringe full of a fatal dose of some sedative/a nuclear weapon/whatever- a way to end your family’s lives and your life quickly and painlessly. Do you use it, or do you just hug them tight and let nature take it’s course?

Well, it would be their call, obviously. But me personally, I think I’d hold out, since it’s likely to be a quick death anyway, and I don’t want to waste time thinking about whether to throw away my last 5 minutes or not. I don’t have kids, but if I did, I doubt I’d want to kill them before they were annihilated.

Just to clarify, it seems to me that your death, while fairly quick, would not be painless-the people of Pompeii died fairly quickly, but they died in agony. I imagine the firestorm on the other side of the planet from the impact would cause a similar death. Again, anyone who actually knows different, correct me if I’m wrong, please.

[Jack Handy] I think a funny thing to do, if the shockwave of global annihilation imminently approaches, is to pretend that you are swimming [/Jack Handy]

I say take it like men and women. The truth of my death will exist as truth until the end of the universe. I want it to be fact that I died in the great global annihilation. Not that I died by some painless sedative.

Register them all to vote and fill out absentee ballots.

I’d rather not die a murderer.

If death is inevitable, why would I not spare my loved ones from terror and agony? So I can spend my last agonizing moments feeling morally superior?

Move them to the opposite side of the impact.

I’d like to be remembered for organising a rave beneath the impact zone. Hmmm…what would I like the last tune to be? “Back By Dope Demand” oughta do it. Go out in style, and not like a snivelling wreck, at least! :slight_smile:

I can’t think of a more quick and painless death than being obliterated by a shockwave. You’d be incinerated before the neurons even fired.

I’d hug them.

Just as an aside, the thing that’s always irked me about that simulation is that it ignores the tidal pull that would have fragmented the planetoid/moonlet into chunks more than an hour before the impact. That damn thing stays round and solid as a bowling ball right up to impact.

Yep. I thought it was moving way too slowly as well. If I had a choice, I’d like to be right under the SOB so it’d be quick. If I was on the other side and had a few minutes with family, I would tell everyone I love them and wait for the end. I would not kill anyone, but I would have a hard time stopping anyone from doing themselves, although I would argue it will be over soon anyway.

Realistically, anything this damn big we would see coming a long way off, so we would have plenty of time to destroy ourselves before it got here. My lack of faith in my fellow man tells me this is a fairly plausible scenario, but who knows…we might all be singing “Kumbaya” and holding hands when the rock hits.

Or, ET could save us all, just to be an optimist for a minute.

But what if it comes in quickly and hits the Earth without orbiting around it. If it’s going 20 km/sec ((a fairly typical velocity for incoming asteroids), and it’s made of the same kind of stuff as the Moon (in which case the Earth’s Roche limit is about 9496 km), a little math shows that it spends less than 10 minutes inside the Roche limit. That might not be enough time for it to get torn apart.

Of course, if it weren’t on a direct collision course, and spent some time orbiting Earth before impact, it might well get torn apart by tidal forces, like Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 did before it hit Jupiter.

As for the question in the OP- if it’s a 500-km asteroid, I’d let them decide if they want to kill themselves, but I wouldn’t kill them. I wouldn’t even kill myself- it’s going to be over very soon. It would be a different story, though, if it were a smaller asteroid that was less likely to kill us outright- if we were facing the possibility of surviving the impact only to suffer through an impact winter, I would kill myself, and I’d certainly offer them the option of killing themselves.

What if chemical A was acid glue and chemical B was Hitler?

I would not kill myself or my loved ones in that situation.

I’m working on it.

-Love Erek Tinker :wink:

Dude, you *totally *stole my post!

Gather the kids and wife together and watch a video or play monopoly or something. Probably invite over my folks as well so we could spend the last few hours together and die together. No need to kill the kids or frighten them. I wouldn’t want their last thoughts or feelings to be of their daddy killing them.

BTW, in such an impact death would pretty much be instantaneous…much faster than anything I could bring myself to do to either my children or my wife. Now, there probably would be a scenario where I would consider killing them myself rather than see them suffer…but this wouldn’t be it.


The video claims that the shockwave would advance at hypersonic speeds. If correct, it seems unlikely that there’s even be time for pain. The residents of Pompei asphyxiated on hot smoke and ash, the poor bastards. No time for that here.

If the kids weren’t around, the GF and I would get naked on the hillside and … you know.

No killing though, ever. Maybe this Rapture thing has something to it at the last minute?