I read a cartoon caption that said, “Intense sound waves for the right duration can get most anything to vibrate and shake”. My question is, would vibrational waves be an effective way to move an asteroid or comet from a collision course with the earth or moon?

Thanks for your question. That's a really good idea but unfortunately I don't think it'd work in this case. The thing is that these vibrational waves are occurring inside the asteroid or comet in question. So the vibrations are inside the asteroid and make it “ring” like when you run a wet fingertip along the rim of a glass. This kind of vibration might be able to break the asteroid apart but it won't be able to move the entire body much in any direction.

That being said, if we see an asteroid early enough before a collision with the Earth or Moon we have a chance of preventing the collision. If we can alter it's course just a little bit early enough, then that little change in it's orbit will keep adding up and adding up over time so that when the time comes it will have moved off target and we'll be okay. This is why it's so important to have telescopes searching the sky/solar system for asteroids that might be on a collision course with us. Because we need to see them as far in advance as possible to have a better chance of changing it's course.

Thanks again for your interest and keep questioning!

Ryan Montgomery

University of California, Santa Cruz