Del Boy could save the planet

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Forget Bruce Willis - Del Boy's the one who can really save the world, it has been revealed.

Scientists have worked out what it would take to divert a killer asteroid that is heading for the Earth.

All you need is a nudge from a Reliant car, like the Trotters' joke three-wheeler in BBC's Only Fools and Horses.

Dr Matthew Genge and a team from Imperial College London carried out calculations based on the weight, power and speed of a 1978 Robin.

With its 850cc engine and weighing 650kg, the vehicle can reach 60mph in a breathtaking 16 seconds.

This gives an average acceleration of 1.67 metres per second per second, and an exerted force of 1,083 Newtons.

Since scientists expect to find an asteroid at least 10 years before it reaches the Earth, changing the speed of the rock by just 0.7 centimetres per second would be enough to divert it.

Dr Genge worked out how long it would take the force applied by a Reliant Robin to push a one-kilometre, billion tonne asteroid sufficiently to make it miss the Earth.

He told Britain's biggest science meeting: "We find that a single Reliant Robin could deflect an asteroid in 75 days.

"So a Reliant Robin can save the world - but a Mini can probably do it faster."

A giant asteroid would really have to be moved using somewhat more advanced techniques - such as ion engine or solar sail.
 

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