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23 December 2009 - 16:05Update on Europe

The Final Countdown — the album that doomed them.

In 1986 the superband Europe announced through their song “The Final Countdown” (off of the album, “The Final Countdown“) that they would be “leaving for Venus.”  Presuming they spent a year or so touring the Earth saying their goodbyes to their fans, it can be safely guessed that they left the planet in 1987.

The distance to Venus is tricky to calculate because it has a circular orbit, unlike that of the Earth.  So at times Venus is only 23.7 million miles from Earth, and at others it’s 162 million miles away.

The speed at which Europe would have traveled is also tricky to calculate.  The fastest any vehicle has left the Earth is 35,800 mph, set by the New Horizons space probe in 2006.  As we know technology increases significantly every year, the ship Europe traveled in 20 years before that must have been slower; probably closer to the Ulysses space probe in 1990 (34,450 mph) or the Pioneer 10 in 1972 (32,400 mph).

If Einstein couldn’t figure out how to travel at the speed of light, you better believe the guys who wrote a song called “Ninja” sure couldn’t.

More worrying about the speed issue is that the members of Europe honestly thought they were going to be traveling at the speed of light.  In their song “The Final Countdown” they note they have “many light years to go.”  This is a concern because the ability to travel at the speed of light still has yet to be discovered.  The rockers anticipated their top speed to be that of light, or 671 million miles per hour.  That means the five Swedes launched themselves wholly unprepared for the actual journey.

At the speed of light, Europe would have reached Venus somewhere between 2 and 14 and a half minutes.  Clearly the musicians thought they were in for a short trip — roughly the length of time it takes one to get to the top of the Eiffel Tower.  Unfortunately, even if they did travel at the speed of the New Horizons probe (35,800 mph) it would have taken somewhere between 27.5 and 188.5 days for them to actually reach Venus!

Experts agree that the average human can only survive between 4-6 weeks without food.  As Europe thought they’d only be a few minutes in space, it’s fair to say they only brought with them some light snacks.  Still, they didn’t mention in the song that they’d be coming back, so it’s possible they carried as much food as possible.  The average human needs about 440 pounds of food and 182.5 gallons of water (1524 lbs) each year to survive.  Presuming Europe didn’t bring any roadies or girlfriends, the five Swedes would need 9820 pounds of food each year to survive.  That breaks down to about 27 pounds of food a day for all five of them.  In order to be alive today (22 years later) Europe must have stowed away 216,040 pounds of food.

The Saturn V rocket was freaking huge!

Unfortunately, the biggest spaceship of all time, the Saturn V rocket, could only carry about 100,000 pounds to the moon.  The Soviet Energia rocket could carry even less, at no more than 44,000 pounds.  Presuming Europe obtained a Saturn V rocket, and brought with them nothing but food and water, they’d have enough food for a little over 10 years.

So they’re dead now.

Presuming they did bring fuel to return to the Earth, they wouldn’t have been able to bring enough.  Just the first stage of the Saturn V rocket (which has 3 stages) alone requires millions of pounds of fuel.  Even considering the gravity on Venus is less than that of Earth,  millions of pounds of fuel would still be required, and as mentioned earlier, the Saturn V rocket could only carry about 100,000 pounds of cargo.

Which means that if Europe landed on Venus, they wouldn’t have had the ability to leave, and would have run out of food and water 12 years ago — so they’re dead now.

Still, even if they DID find a source of food and water, the atmosphere of Venus is brutal.  Temperatures on the surface average about 870 degrees Fahrenheit, and the air is mostly carbon dioxide, which is poisonous to humans.  Since it takes about 3 hours to cook a 24-pound turkey at 425 degrees F, each member of Europe would have passed out from carbon dioxide poisoning, and been perfectly cooked in about an hour.

Which means the Swedish band Europe is dead now… and apparently very overcooked.

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