What if a 6.5-mile-long (10-km) asteroid was heading straight for Earth, with a cataclysmic collision that would kill us all in just six months? What would we do?
This is the plot of Netflix’s recent sci-fi blockbuster "Don’t Look Up". The movie follows two astronomers, played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, as they frantically try to warn the world of impending doom and persuade politicians to take the necessary action to avert disaster, only to be met with absolute indifference.
The asteroid and the public's apathy toward it is an allegory of the world’s inaction in the face of global warming, but now, two physicists have taken a more literal approach to the movie's central question, investigating whether we have the means and technology available today to avert such a catastrophe.
The answer? From a strictly technical standpoint, it seems like yes, we do.
In their paper, which was published this week on the Arxiv database, Philip Lubin and Alex Cohen from the University of California, Santa Barbara wrote, "We show that humanity has crossed a technological threshold to prevent us from 'going the way of the dinosaurs.'"
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