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TRIZ Challenge - October 2002 - 'Save the World'

TRIZ Challenge – October 2002 – ‘Save the World’

| On 15, Oct 2002

TRIZ Challenge – October 2002 – ‘Save the World’

By Jos� M. Vicente Gomila & Ian Care

We challenge you to use your TRIZ skills and your knowledge to help solve a humanitarian or social problem. We hope that you will submit your results for publication in the TRIZ journal. Every few months we will set a new challenge – but that does not mean that you cannot continue to work on previous challenges, indeed you may have chosen to work on this for your project or coursework.

Send your results, ideas, comments and suggestions for future challenges to

This month we challenge you to save the world! How can we prevent human life on earth from being destroyed by an asteroid hitting the earth.

The likelihood of an asteroid or other near earth object (NEO) hitting the Earth is not high, but it is something we should worry about. According to the United Kingdom Spaceguard, your chances of dying from an asteroid or comet impact are about the same as dying in a commercial aircraft accident. This is true because one asteroid or comet impact can kill many people. Aircraft accidents happen more often and do not kill nearly as many people. NASA states that the annual probability of a globally catastrophic impact are 1/500,000. The likelihood of a NEO hitting the Earth is very small, but it is very destructive (high consequence). If a NEO hits Earth (according to Bob Hawkes that is bigger than 10km, it would practically destroy the world. NASA publishes data on asteroid hits on the earth and predictions for future impacts: ”

If a 100 meter size asteroid hit the ocean, (which covers 70% of the world) it would create a tsunami which would destroy most of the coastal cities and ports. It would also acidify most of our water supply. If a 1 km asteroid hit the earth, it would cause a dust cloud, blocking the sun for around a year. It would cause a nuclear winter resulting in severe food shortage. (Information received from Asteroids–Effects of an Impact on Earth Other effects include:

*Shock waves in the crust of the earth
*Firestorms over large portions of a continent
*Destruction of the ozone layer
*Atmosphere alteration (due to the huge amount of material ejected into the upper atmosphere)
*Range in time scales from hours to thousands of years

One such scenario is given in the prediction at:

Now the TRIZ problems:

  1. The risk of collision with a large NEO is unlikely but will occur at some time, how do we prepare ourselves for such an event? Can you devise a method of detection and possible collision avoidance?
  2. Asteroid contain valuable mineral resources, instead of blowing it up, deflecting it away from the earth, can you think of a way of capturing the asteroid by some safe method? Can we use the asteroids power to useful effect?
  3. What would you as a TRIZ practitioner, knowledgeable of s-fields, do to radically shorten the ‘dust winter’ in order to avoid the horrible end of the humankind?