How to Destroy the Planet

By Eric Roston - 2012-04-20T12:50:43Z

Photograph by Everett Collection

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Planet-Obliterating Superlaser

THREAT: An evil, galaxywide empire transports its moon-size battle station to our Solar System, a la the Star Wars Death Star, and blasts the Earth into dust with a superlaser.

REALITY: Many new technologies -- from nuclear power to lasers to supercolliders -- were met with protests fearing planetary demolition. The worst fears haven't been realized.

The planet should also be safe from alien-empire death rays. E.T.-watchers point to the so-called Drake's equation, which lays out criteria for judging whether life exists elsewhere in the Milky Way Galaxy. One consideration within it: An advanced technological civilization must live at the same time we do, and as we know from the movie, the Death Star project occurred "a long time ago in a Galaxy far, far away."

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