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Physicist: Use nukes against asteroids

MOSCOW, July 1 (UPI) -- A Russian physicist says specially designed nuclear weapons likely would be effective in preventing collisions between the Earth and asteroids.

In an interview Tuesday with RIA Novosti, Vadim Simonenko, deputy head of the Russian Federal Nuclear Center, said the nuclear devices could be tested via computer models. He said they would be more energy efficient than using lasers or other means to deflect asteroids, the Russian news agency said.

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"We in Russia have a wealth of experience in the controlled use of nuclear explosions for peaceful purposes," Simonenko said. "A nuclear device in skillful hands is like a scalpel in the hands of a surgeon."

Some scientists fear blowing up an asteroid could leave pieces large enough to come down through Earth's asteroid.

The Near Earth Object that most concerns scientists is 99942 Apophis,

or Asteroid 2004 MN4. The asteroid, which has a diameter of 383 yards, will pass about 22,400 miles from Earth in 2029. Scientists fear the close approach could deflect its orbit so that it collides with Earth on its next approach in 2036.

In 1908, in the Tunguska event, a large meteorite struck in Siberia. The impact knocked down 80 million trees.

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