ABC's "Impact": Oh No, Not Again!

ABC's "Impact": Oh No, Not Again!

Summary: How much more of the "Apocalyptic meteoroid-comet-asteroid-moon gonna hit the Earth/need to save us with a daring suicide mission involving nuclear weapons or a secret government project" genre can we possibly take?Ah yes, Father's Day.


How much more of the "Apocalyptic meteoroid-comet-asteroid-moon gonna hit the Earth/need to save us with a daring suicide mission involving nuclear weapons or a secret government project" genre can we possibly take?

Ah yes, Father's Day. Going over to see the relatives for some pleasant conversation and outdoor grilling (well, maybe if you weren't on the East Coast of the United States this last weekend), the unfolding terror and the continuing destabilization of the political situation in Iran, and a new Science Fiction miniseries about a desperate plan to save Earth from the moon which has been dislodged from its regular orbit by a chance collision with a piece of Brown Dwarf matter. Yay!

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.

The entire premise of the plot is that a fragment of a Brown Dwarf, a super-dense "remnant of a long-dead star" which has burnt out all of its nuclear fuel has impacted the moon during a once in a thousand year meteor shower, and has lodged itself into it, thus increasing its stellar mass by more than twice that of Earth's. Translation: the Moon has a bad case of interstellar constipation.

The net result is this has affected the gravitational relationship between the Moon and that of the Earth, causing widespread nastiness including "Gravitational Storms", tidal tsunamis, and huge electromagnetic disturbances. Now, as if this didn't bode well to begin with, the dramatic change in the Moon's mass has altered the Moon's orbit with the Earth to a stretched out ellipsis rather than a stable pseudo-circle, creating a runaway effect which will cause the moon to impact into the earth within 39 days.

You got all of that? Okay, great. Now let me count the ways in which this show was a total insult to my intelligence:

First, never mind the fact that the immense density of a Brown Dwarf is created by the fact that all the matter in it is caught in a huge gravitational field. If a "fragment" of a Brown Dwarf were somehow able to escape this huge gravitational field, it would no longer have the same density it did before. Additionally, never mind the fact that a Brown Dwarf probably isn't a "long dead star" because the current consensus by most astrophysicists is that they never had the right characteristics to achieve fusion in first place. Brown Dwarfs are currently thought of to have been "failed" stars which were never able to light up, like miniature Jupiters. Brown Dwarfs are a big cosmic "FAIL".

But what is most stupid of all is if a fast moving object that had almost twice the mass of the Earth were to collide with the Moon, it wouldn't "lodge" itself in there leaving a gigantic fissure. It would obliterate the Moon like a billiard ball dropping on top of a chalky mint you get at Greek Diners, or at the very least, smash it into a bunch of pieces and hurtle it out of our solar system like a shotgun blast. And without the Moon and it's gravitational effects on our planet, suffice to say a LOT of stuff would get messed up, and that's assuming a huge piece or pieces of the moon several miles wide wouldn't immediately knock itself into the Earth, instantly destroying all life on this planet.

Of course, if we stuck to reality, we wouldn't have much of a movie left, would we?

Now, I love a good apocalyptic subject as much as anyone. There's something about them that draws me almost magnetically to the screen, as if all of the world's horrible problems briefly melt away after considering a catastrophic event that could destroy all civilization as we know it. I particularly love the History and Discovery Science Channel ones, such as "Megadisasters" and "Life After People" which details the science behind the all the fun variations on giant meteoroid impacts, Supervolcanoes, Hypercanes, 1000-foot-high megatsunamis and all the awesomely cool cosmic events like supernovae and Gamma Ray Bursts which would leave no hope of survival, not even which an expert suicide team that was emergency funded by all the governments in the world, led by a badass like Bruce Willis could stop. Or an awesome soundtrack by Aerosmith for that manner. And no, not even a giant nuclear explosion detonated in the core of the earth or at at precise point on said asteroid/comet/meteor would fix it. Or some creative variation of such, where one of the main characters dies in the process in some gallant act of self-sacrifice.

Let's see... Not having seen the second part of the miniseries, which airs next Sunday, I predict that at the end of "Impact", a crack team of super-brave astronauts flies to the moon (on the "delayed" European Moon mission briefly announced in the first minute of the show) and somehow manages to dislodge the super massive Brown Dwarf Fragment using the "failed anti gravity" technology described by the widower astrophysics professor to his very cute and perky female grad student (who keeps giving him come hither glances, who I'm sure he'll hook up with by the end of the thing) in the first 20 minutes of the first episode. But somebody will die on the space mission, as dictated by the first law of apocalyptic movie schlock. I'm hoping it's the annoying brilliant German scientist dude that keeps ditching his pregnant girlfriend.

What's your prediction for "Impact", or your favorite way the Earth is destroyed? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Topics: Government US, Government


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Epic physics fail

    [i]First, never mind the fact that the immense mass of a Brown Dwarf is created by the fact that all the matter in it is caught in a huge gravitational field.[/i]

    That explains its [b]density[/b] not its mass.

    [i]If a ?fragment? of a Brown Dwarf were somehow able to escape this huge gravitational field, it would no longer have the same mass it did before.[/i]

    No, it would be less dense and would weigh less, but it would have the same mass.
    • corrected

      Thanks. I actually meant density, but I wrote it wrong.
  • RE: ABC's Impact: Oh No, Not Again!

    Corrected, thanks.
  • Do they even know what a brown dwarf is?

    Sounds like they mean a black dwarf, that would make more sense. But then again how do you fragment a black dwarf?
    Michael Kelly
  • American Sci Fi is like American Science education

    They are both epic fails. If you want real science go to Asia, the Middle East, Europe, some parts of Africa, basically anywhere other than America.
    • basically anywhere other than America.

      You just don't believe in Inteligent Design, that is why you don't like
      American science, and evolution as just one of the theories.

      If you understand science and can think for yourself then you will be a
      poor consumer, and that can not be allowed.
  • More likely to be man-made than natural disaster...

    Earth's destruction is more likely to result from man-made stupidity than any act of nature. We, as a species, excel in destroying anything we touch and these days we have our hands all over the Earth. I don't think our species will survive long enough to worry about it, though. We feed on the Earth like a cancer, spreading like wildfire until we eventually kill our ourselves and our host.
    • Disagree

      Our host will be just fine. It's recovered from much worse.
      Michael Kelly
      • Of course. However

        we won't be there to see that recovery... To our own extinction we can only blame ourselves.
    • Lets us not become too

      overlly dramatic?
  • Disney Disaster

    You didn't mention the awful dialog and horrible acting, Jason--melodramatic and over-the-top. This thing could be just "schlocky" enough it's "campy." Since we all know the obvious ending, the only reason to watch part 2 is to make fun of it.

    Is this disaster actually black comedy?
    • Schlockyness

      The series is apparently a collaboration between ABC and German TV, which is why there is a A-plot with the guy with the kids and the agoraphobic grandpa and the German dude with the pregnant girlfriend. All the German stuff was shot separately with little or no contact between the casts, and you can tell. I actually expected better from Germany because after all, they invented modern rocketry and have some of the best scientists in the world, I'd expect the script to be better proofed for technical accuracy at least. Dialogue you can't blame the Germans. :)
  • MyPlanetaryDestruction(Engage)

    ... I'd like the 'bad' guy to win more often!
    e.g. when the alien sets off the cleansing process 'to save the Earth' - in The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008) - his attempts to halt it are greeted by the following messages from his supercomputer:

    AlienSoft UAC Warning
    You need administrator priveledges to halt system processes.
    Switch User? Exit?

    Aliensoft UAC Warning
    User switching not allowed during planetary cleansing.
    Retry? Phone Home? Exit? Bummer?

    ... or in the original 1951 version

    ... instead of saying 'Klaatu barada nikto' Helen blurts out 'Klaatu barada femto'.
    Gort then vapourises all matter down to a level of 10 -15.

    That's what alternative endings are for, right ;-)
  • RE: ABC's Impact: Oh No, Not Again!

    As I watched this literal and figurative trainwreck of a plot unfold, the implausibilities came so fast and furious that I had trouble keeping up. But what was MOST implausible was not the science. It was that everyone on Earth just seemed to go about his or her business without a care in the world, even though the moon was taking up half the sky.

    Waiters showed up for work, kids played in their ballgames, etc., etc., nobody thinking that hmmm, maybe this doesn't look so good for us. Certainly, huge tides would have washed away all coastal cities, and mass panic would grip the population all around the world, right? Nope.

    I may watch Part II just to see how ridiculous it will get. All I can say is that with all the talent out there, is this the best they can do for writing and plot? Seriously. I can do better.
  • RE: ABC's Impact: Oh No, Not Again!

    That elongatred eliptical orbit had the eEarth at the "exact center" of both the long and the short axis. According to Kepler's Law that would not be the case. there would not be two apogees and two perigees in 29 days (or whatever the new orbitar period were) but only one Apogee and one Perigee per revolution.