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Science & Technology

Mystery still surrounds 1908 Tunguska event

July 10, 2016 | Comment icon 13 comments

What was ultimately responsible for the Tunguska event ? Image Credit: PD - Leonid Kulik
Did an asteroid strike the remote Siberian wilderness over a century ago or did something else happen ?
Few natural disasters in the 20th century have generated as much discussion and debate as the massive explosion that occurred in Tunguska, Siberia 108 years ago - an event so destructive that it managed to flatten more than 80 million trees over a 2,000-square-kilometer area.

Fortunately the disaster happened in a sparsely populated region and aside from one deer herder who was allegedly killed by the force of the blast, there were no other reported casualties.

But what if such an event, which released 185 times more energy than the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima, were to happen again over a city or other populated area ?
Scientists generally agree that the most likely cause of the explosion was a comet or asteroid however a distinct lack of physical evidence over the years save for a few traces of meteoric fragments has made it difficult to know for sure exactly what happened.

Perhaps the most important thing we have learned from the incident however is that large objects from space can and do hit our planet with alarming regularity and that we should not be complacent - a message that was brought in to alarming focus when a space rock exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk back in 2013 with between 20-30 times the energy of an atomic bomb.

"What's challenging is that this process of the asteroid disrupting in the atmosphere, decelerating, evaporating and transferring its energy to the air, is a very complicated process," said researcher Gareth Collins of Imperial College London.

"We would like to understand it more, to better predict consequences of these events in future."

Source: | Comments (13)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by Calibeliever 6 years ago
We're going to need a sample of your brain tissue.
Comment icon #5 Posted by BeastieRunner 6 years ago
Business or personal?
Comment icon #6 Posted by Lucas Cooper Merrin 6 years ago
I always thought it was a comet that exploded not an asteroid, It was reported at the time, there was unusually bright and hazy night skys which would suggest dust and ice particles hanging in the atmosphere, of which an an asteroid would be uncapable of producing
Comment icon #7 Posted by jethrofloyd 6 years ago
Any thoughts on this theory?
Comment icon #8 Posted by Emma_Acid 6 years ago
Can you sum it up instead of asking people to sit through a video?
Comment icon #9 Posted by jethrofloyd 6 years ago
Basiclly the theory is Nikola Tesla accidentally set off the Tunguska explosion while testing a powerful energy broadcasting device. His experiments of wireless transmission sent 'death rays' accidentally into the Siberia and caused the Tunguska event.
Comment icon #10 Posted by aquatus1 6 years ago
Sounds less like a theory and more like wish-mongering.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Aardvark-DK 6 years ago
2 theories I like, is that it was anti-matter, colliding above Tunguska, or Trumps hairpiece coming undone...
Comment icon #12 Posted by Calibeliever 6 years ago
I read something a couple of years ago where someone did the math on the Tesla theoryand more-or-less proved it impossible given the amount of energy that was estimated to have been released. I don't have time to look for it today but if I can later I'll try to post it here.
Comment icon #13 Posted by Ryu 6 years ago
I was under the impression the Tunguska event was simply a meteorite that exploded before hitting the ground and the shock waves resulting form it (as well as possible radiation) caused the damage. Doesn't seem all that mysterious.

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