Wipe England Wales off the map

By Phil Plait | June 13, 2008 1:00 pm

Here’s a bit of apocalyptic fun: simulate dropping an asteroid on the UK. It’s fun, and when you get your crater you can see how big it is relative to the Sphinx, or the Eiffel Tower, or the Empire State Building. There’s a death-and-destruction list too; tell it how far away from the impact site you are and it will tell you just how dead you’ll be.

In general, the answer is: very dead.

If you’re like me at all, you’ll turn the knobs all the way up and see what happens. Yikes. Too bad the simulator only uses a map of England Wales, because obviously if this were to really happen in England Wales the Doctor would save us.

Edited to add: I had originally said this was in the UK in the first draft of this post, then looked at the map and foolishly thought it was just England (Wales is shaped vaguely like England, and I was in a hurry). Silly. I know the difference between the two (or three: UK, England, and Wales) so my apologies to those in England and other places who would not be wiped out by this simulator.

Tip o’ the Whipple shield to Orbiting Frog.


Comments (61)

  1. Phy

    I don’t know about the whole UK; I think that’s just Wales, Phil.

    Not that it isn’t fun dropping giant rocks on Wales.

  2. STrimmer

    GREAT FUN!!!!!

    Get some cool crashing effects in there and I may never pay attention at work again……

  3. Dan

    Bye bye, Cardiff. I’d like to say it’s been fun, but… well… It’s not you. It’s me.

  4. Fergus Gallagher

    Yes, England is already off the map. My old school in Swansea is soooo gone.

  5. Pierre

    The other one I like is this one:

    Earth Impact Effects Program

    ( At “http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/impacteffects/” in case my A link doesn’t work )


  6. Bethany

    Nah, not the Doctor. They already covered this – Mr. Smith and Sarah Jane will save us.

  7. Doc

    Darn. I was hoping for animated graphics.

    What are the settings for a cubic mile of hot-fudge sundae?

  8. Thomas Siefert

    HEY! Stop that, how would you like it if I dropped a big errh… boulder on ahem.. Boulder? Eh?

  9. Windyshrimp

    Awesome! I remember this at the Meteor Crater’s museum near Winslow, Az.

  10. Robbie

    Fun stuff, but I agree with Doc about the animated graphics thing.

  11. Celtic_Evolution

    SOOOOO many other, more deserving places I could have more fun with this sim than poor ol’ Wales… :)

  12. Jon

    > I don’t know about the whole UK; I think that’s just Wales, Phil.

    Yep, that’s Wales – but England isn’t the whole UK either :)

    Would be nice to see it take into account the geology of the local terrain – I’d imagine an impact on Snowdon would be somewhat different from one in Cardigan Bay!

  13. Sorry Phil, but as Phy says, England isn’t on that map at all. Though Doctor Who is filmed in Cardiff (in Wales), so maybe he’ll come to the rescue after all…

  14. Actually, this post is called, ‘Wipe England off the map’, so maybe that’s just been taken a bit too literally.

  15. Yeah, as others have said; that ain’t England.

  16. Joe

    Just to clarify:

    The United Kingdom is a combo of England, Wales, Scotland, and The Republic of Ireland.

    The map is just of Wales; not the UK, nor England.

    You raised my hopes and knocked them down. v_v

    Still, destroying Wales is a lot of fun. ^_^

  17. Actually the Republic of Ireland isn’t part of the UK. Northern Ireland is, as is evidenced by the UK’s full name: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

  18. Anthony

    Sadly, this impact calculator is capped at 60 km/sec. The one at http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/impacteffects/ allows me to enter 299,000 km/sec, but produces improbable results when I do so.

  19. Nicole

    If it’s coming towards Cardiff, I think Captain Jack will have something to say about it.

  20. Ian Regan

    Buuzzztt. That’s Wales, Phil, NOT England.

    Whoops! (×100)

  21. Stephen
  22. Daniel Woods

    It is Wales, but a big enough impact could do major damage to the whole Island.
    I just took out Portishead!

  23. reCoil

    argh, i shamelessly copied the link and your description (though just the essence and translated) to a polish digg clone and it took less that a minute for someone to point out that was in fact Wales (it didn’t look too english for me too, but i didn’t care that much). you made me look stupid! damn you, Phil Plait! 😀

    i’m so moved i even took the effort to comment for the first time (i did write comments earlier, but somehow never found them good/relevant/iportant/or simply smart enough to post).

    but i guess this proves a point here – you talk all the time about critical thinking and questioning everything (even – or maybe especially – the authoritative types) and yet i just took that for granted, even though i doubted that myself. that’ll be a lesson learned, i hope.

  24. Heather

    How come I can only blow up Wales? Can’t I blow up England or has that already gone?

  25. Also, the crater depth page fails to transition from simple to peaked and ringed crater geometries, meaning that the depths are almost certainly overestimated.

  26. Chris


    ‘Just to clarify:

    The United Kingdom is a combo of England, Wales, Scotland, and The Republic of Ireland.’…

    Since when has the Republic of Ireland been part of the United Kingdom..methinks some irate Northern Ireland peeps who wear orange and march ‘n stuff may beg to differ! (dont let the good friday agreement fool ya!).

    Anyhoo, What have the Welsh ever done to deserve this?? Sheep, Rugby, Dirty Sanchez, a Prince.. this is a country steeped in tradition and long train station names… and it would be a bloody good shot for something thats been travelling at 100kms a second for the last billion or so years to land full bullseye on Cardiff!

  27. I would love to see a three dimensional simulation of an asteroid impact. Does anyone know of anything like that?

  28. Hoonser

    Well it’s about time!

  29. “The United Kingdom is a combo of England, Wales, Scotland, and The Republic of Ireland.’…”

    Don’t you damned colonials know anything! Next you’ll be telling us you won’t drink our tea or pay our stamp duty!

    Seriously how could a Republic be part of a United Kingdom!

  30. Kimpatsu

    As everyone else has pointed out, that’s not England, Phil, it’s Wales. Which is where Doctor Who and Torchwood are filmed, right there in Cardiff. So we’re safe. They’d save us.

  31. Captain Swoop

    If Wales took a big impact like that how would you tell?

  32. I think it was the comedian Jimmy Carr who said: “We keep being told by conservationists that an area the size of Wales is destroyed every day… Why is it never Wales?”

  33. Nic

    Captain Swoop: If Wales took a big impact like that how would you tell?

    You wouldn’t have to pay over a fiver to get into Wales?

  34. The Voice of Reason

    If there was a large Asteroid impact in Wales, it would cause millions of Dollars of improvements!!
    (From the Englishman abroad)

  35. Joe

    *facepalm* I always assume the Republic is just another name for Northern Ireland, even though it isn’t.

    Yeah, nobody listen to me. I’m too tired. =D

  36. Utakata

    BA wrote in part:

    “In general, the answer is: very dead.”

    No, they’re just sleeping.

  37. Steve Bloom

    Obviously it’s another Plantagenet trick. People like that don’t let something like a half-millennium of dynastic extinction get in ther way.

  38. I wonder if I could use the second one to do calculations about the Giant Impact hypothesis. You know, where early in the earth’s life some giant asteroid or planet crashed into the earth and knocked out a big chunk of it which became the moon.

    Or maybe I just want to drop the moon on something. Like in that one Zelda game.

  39. DustPuppyOI

    For a variation, there’s Nuke the Hamptons.

  40. charlie

    No magical thinking! The doctor can’t save you. Wake up and look at the universe 😉

  41. ARP1234

    Think the English will still keep their upper lips stiff as the
    giant fireball comes barreling down on their heads?

  42. Starviking

    >Since when has the Republic of Ireland been part of the United
    >Kingdom..methinks some irate Northern Ireland peeps who wear orange
    >and march ‘n stuff may beg to differ! (dont let the good friday
    >agreement fool ya!).

    I don’t wear orange and march, but…ARRRRGHHHHHH!!!!!

    We now resume usual programming…

  43. Okay Phil – You’re never going to get this far down in the comments, but just in case you do, or in case someone else read through that entire “Wales isn’t in England” flame-fest hoping for something interesting and substantial – here’s my thought, and a nod to a different realm of Geekdom:

    Does anyone else worry that this might be like playing Global Thermonuclear War?

    … waiting to see who gets it first …

  44. Jack

    Wow, Phil… do we need to re-name your site “Bad Geography”?!

    Othi wrth y Cymro-Americanwyr.

  45. madge
  46. Gareth

    And you can see by some of the comments here why the Welsh and English don’t really get on with each other…

  47. Cusp

    I know it’s been said – but come on – that is not England – it’s Wales. There is a BIG difference. Come on Phil – Fix it.

  48. What a great idea, science teachers should take notice. Science class would have been a lot more fun if we had something like this we could play around with!

  49. andy

    I just took out Portishead!

    …and they’d just released their third album after god knows how many decades too…

  50. StevoR

    Why England / Wales?

    There are plenty of other nations that should be wiped off the map …

    Dare I say Israel? 😉 (Wicked red with horns!)

    (Of course, the fact is by rights Israel should never have been on the map to begin with – but that’s another whole other debate not for here …:( )

    … Or the good ole US of A? (Now that’d please a large section of the planets population! 😉 )

    Note to the humour-challenged : Don’t worry I am joking!

    Seriously though, they should set it up so you can choose to vapourise anywhere on Earth … or sea. I offer that suggestion for their improved model.

  51. pnakotus

    Yeah, I wanna see what happens to the earth if an asteroid the size of texas lands ON TEXAS!

  52. Sam

    I live in Wales. It is nicer than England.

  53. justcorbly

    To make up for confusing Wales and England, you need to go to Wales. Great place, great people, fine pubs, place names that look like they’re unpronounceable. Fly to Heathrow, rent a car, drive west on the M4 and you’re there in time for your next meal.

  54. ARP1234

    We plan on making the UK the 51st State anyway, so
    don’t worry about all your outdated territories.

  55. reCoil

    @ Alice: you mean like ‘War Games’ with Broderick?

  56. themadlolscientist

    You gotta be really careful about dropping big rocks on Wales, to avoid the endangered species.

  57. They got one of those simulators for Louisiana?

  58. Geoff

    # justcorbly

    addenum: …but be sure to drive on the left and really try to avoid gatwick… otherwise, very good advice.


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