Monday, July 28, 2008

Apocalypse Whenever

In the museum at Arizona's 50,000 year-old Meteor Crater, there are a number of "interactive" exhibits that allow visitors to feel what purports to be a simulation of the sensation of a meteor impact or pose against a mock-up of the inaccessible floor of the crater as it is today. Most bizarre may be the videogame-like "Impact!" in which players can model different kinds of collisions between celestial objects and terrestrial bodies by pushing buttons to add or subtract mass, density, and velocity. Some projectiles are harmlessly deflected off the atmosphere, but with the right combination of elements, the algorithm generates a scenario in which the entire earth is destroyed to the delight of squealing onlookers.

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