The Mysterious 1908 Tunguska Explosion – Over 100 Years Later, Scientists Still Debating its Cataclysmic Cause

  At 7:17 am on June 30, 1908, a shocking explosion occurred at 60°54′11″ north latitude and 101°54′35″ east longitude in Siberia, Russia. Because the Tunguska River flows near the big explosion, it is called the “Tunguska Big Bang”. At that time, residents in the mountainous area northwest of Lake Baikal saw a blue light almost as bright as the sun streaking across the sky. At the horizon where the blue light disappeared, there were billowing clouds of smoke and pillars of fire reaching into the sky. About 10 minutes later, residents heard what sounded like artillery fire. Witnesses said the sound of the explosion moved from east to north, followed by a shock wave that shook people off their feet and shattered windows hundreds of kilometers away.
  The miraculous thing about the Tunguska explosion is its “bigness”! Major seismic stations across Eurasia recorded the crustal vibrations caused by this explosion, which was equivalent to 5.0 on the Richter scale. The air shock wave generated by the explosion caused sensors in Germany, the United Kingdom, Indonesia, the United States and other places to react. The explosion caused a fire that burned through a swath of forest the size of London and was shaped like a giant outstretched butterfly. What is even more exaggerated is that the sky over Eurasia was extremely bright for two consecutive nights after the explosion.
  According to scientists’ speculation, the 1908 Tunguska explosion was at least a 12-megaton explosion, which was about 1,000 times as powerful as the Hiroshima nuclear explosion. However, due to Siberia’s remote location, it did not attract the attention of the Tsarist Russian government. At that time, the political situation in the world was turbulent. After the explosion, scientists mainly conducted damage assessment and geological research on the explosion, but relatively little research on the cause.
Battle of Hypotheses

  What exactly caused this unprecedented and unprecedented explosion? At present, it seems that the most scientific explanation is the “Great Impact of Heaven and Earth” hypothesis, but scientists have different opinions on whether it is a meteorite, an asteroid or a comet. The reason why it is called a hypothesis is that some scientific research does support the theory, but there is a lack of direct evidence, and further scientific research also brings more questions.
  The earliest one that appeared was the meteorite impact hypothesis, which can be traced back to the research of Soviet mineralogist Leonid Kulik. In 1921, Kulik’s team entered the Tunguska River Basin near the explosion site to conduct investigations. Through the testimony and reports of local witnesses, he determined that the Tunguska explosion may have been caused by a falling meteorite. After that, he continued to lobby the Soviet government to enter the explosion site for research, looking for rare metals brought by extraterrestrial objects or things that were not found on the earth. In 1927, the Soviet government finally sent a team of scientists headed by Kulik to the explosion site to conduct research.

Lake Cheko is a small freshwater lake in Russia, located near the Tunguska River in the Krasnoyarsk Territory. It is 708 meters long, 364 meters wide, and has a maximum depth of 50 meters. It was once suspected to be an impact crater, but no remnants of the impactor were found at the bottom of the lake.

  Direct evidence that can confirm a meteorite impact is to find craters or remaining meteorite fragments. However, in the 10 years after 1927, the scientific expedition team did not find a crater in the explosion area. Kulick had suspected that dozens of swamps 10 to 50 meters in diameter in the area were remnants of impact craters. But after the swamp was drained, the vegetation at the bottom of the swamp rejected his idea.
  Chemical analysis of soil elements seems to be the scientific research result that best supports the impact of celestial bodies. In the 1950s and 1960s, scientific expedition teams discovered tiny silicates and magnetite in the soil of the area that were not found outside the area. In addition, in the bogs in the explosion area, the isotopic signatures of carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen in peat deposits from 1908 are different from those from other years, with a particularly high proportion of iridium. These anomalies are thought to be due to the impact of extraterrestrial falling bodies. But some scientists claimed that measurements in other laboratories did not confirm these results.
  Soon the scientific community proposed the comet impact hypothesis. In 1930, British meteorologist and mathematician Francis Whipple believed that the Tunguska explosion was caused by the impact of a comet. Comets are composed of dust, ice and frozen gas. After impacting the earth, their components can be completely evaporated without leaving craters, which explains the problem of no craters being found. Moreover, the dust and ice at the tail of the comet are scattered in the upper atmosphere, which also explains the phenomenon of night like day in Eurasia after the big explosion.
  By the 1960s, the comet impact hypothesis was generally accepted. In 1978, Slovak astronomer Uber Kreisak even deduced that the object that hit Tunguska should be a fragment of Comet Encke. This comet brings the Taurid meteor shower to the earth every year from June 28 to 29, which coincides with the time of the Tunguska Big Bang event. Its flight trajectory is also consistent with the blue light seen by eyewitnesses of the big explosion. .
  But this claim was quickly refuted. In 1983, astronomer Zene Serkanina said that according to his calculations, the comet should have disintegrated during the movement of the Earth’s atmosphere and could not have stayed intact close to the surface. Therefore, he believed that the impact on the surface should be an asteroid. . In 2001, scientists continued to study the trajectory of the object that caused the Tunguska explosion into the atmosphere. Through model comparison, they believed that the probability of the object being an asteroid reached 83%, while the probability of a comet was only 17%.
Bring about a big explosion of imagination

  While the scientific community continues to debate, the Tunguska explosion has also attracted the wild imagination of countless writers. Since what hit the earth is an alien object, is it possible that it is an alien artifact or even an alien?
  In 1940, the Soviet engineer and science fiction novelist A. Kazantsev said in his science fiction novel “The Burning Island” through the protagonist Alexander that the Tunguska explosion was caused by the crash of an alien spacecraft. The novel also mentioned Radium, the fuel for alien spacecraft, was discovered in Tunguska. In his 1946 short story “The Visitor from Outer Space,” he continued to describe in detail the process of the alien spacecraft crashing through the mouths of eyewitnesses – a nuclear-powered Martian spacecraft searching for fresh water from Lake Baikal ended up in Exploded in mid-air. This series of novels opened up the alien hypothesis, that is, the Tunguska explosion was the result of alien activities, possibly caused by the explosion of an alien spacecraft or the launch of alien weapons.
  Polish science fiction writer Stanislaw Lem also contributed to the alien hypothesis. In his 1951 science fiction novel “The Astronauts”, scientists discovered an alien data recording device at the center of the explosion, explaining that the Tunguska event was caused by the crash of an alien spacecraft. In the novel, the spacecraft came from Venus.
  Larry Niven, a science fiction writer who won the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award, created the “black hole theory” in his 1975 novella “The Frontier of the Solar System” – the Tunguska explosion was an asteroid with a mass equivalent to A miniature black hole was created when it passed through the Earth. Afterwards, the black hole returned to space and flew to the edge of the solar system. It was not discovered until 800 years later.
  Others blame the Tunguska explosion on Dr. Tesla’s death ray weapon. Nikola Tesla was an American inventor, physicist and electrical engineer who invented the alternating current system and was an important promoter of the commercialization of electricity. After 1891, he has been studying wireless transmission of energy and electricity. A scientist who is real in history, has “powers” and has a weird personality is obviously more attractive than an illusory alien.

  Stalker tells the story of three men, known as Stalkers, Writers, and Scientists, who travel through a cordoned off, overgrown “area” to a place called “The Room,” where A person’s deepest wishes can be realized.

  As a result, Nikola Tesla continues to be mythologized. Some people believe that the Tunguska explosion was caused by the ball lightning formed by his wireless transmission of energy. An article published by Oliver Nicholson in Destiny magazine in 1990 supports this theory. The movie “K-20 Monster with Twenty Faces”, released in 2008 and adapted from Japanese mystery novelist Edogawa Ranpo’s novel, also attributed the Tunguska explosion to Nikola Tesla, which can only be said to be “fake” When it is true, it is also false.”
Explosion in literature, film and television

  The Tunguska explosion has become a source of inspiration for the world’s literary, film and television circles. Popular TV series such as the American “X-Files” and the British “Doctor Who” all have content about the Tunguska explosion. Even the first episode of the Japanese TV series “Ultraman Orb” copied the plot of the Tunguska explosion – the alien spacecraft crashed and the forest burned. Inspired by the Tunguska explosion, many disaster films depict horrific scenes of various celestial bodies and even the moon crashing into the ground. Different from the straightforwardness of commercial films, the creative focus of literary and artistic films has slowly shifted away from the Tunguska explosion itself. Like the ripples spreading in a pond blown by the wind, new plots are constantly derived from various elements of the big explosion.
  In 1927, when scientists moved from the edge of the Tunguska explosion area to the center of the explosion, they saw a surprising scene: in the forest far away from the explosion center, the trees were partially burnt and fell radially, looking like they had been hit by the explosion shock wave. It was generally knocked down; but entering the central area, the trees within a diameter of about 8 kilometers were completely scorched, but they did not fall down. This situation had never occurred in man-made explosions at that time, and scientists could not explain how this scenario occurred. The 1979 science fiction movie “Stalker” relied on the unexplainable “zone” concept in the Tunguska explosion to rise from the physical “zone” to the spiritual “zone”, opening up the understanding of the nature of the human soul for subsequent science fiction movies. philosophical discussion.
  ”Stalker” has a linear narrative with no complicated structure. The content of the story is very clear: due to supernatural reasons (falling meteorites or alien visits), a restricted area with no return is formed in a certain place. A stalker leads the “writer” Heading to the “restricted area” with the “scientist”, the three of them look for a “room” that is said to make wishes come true. Along the way, the stalker was trembling with fear, but the “writer” and “scientist” thought he was making a fuss out of a molehill. After finding the “room” through many crises, the conflicts between the three people finally broke out – the stalker could not enter the “room”, the writer did not dare to enter the “room”, and the scientist wanted to blow up the “room”. Scientists and writers question the existence of the “room” and whether it can grant wishes, as well as why Stalker doesn’t go in himself. The film was hailed as a “masterpiece” because of its re-examination and exploration of the meaning of existence, and director Andrei Tarkovsky was also hailed as a god for this film.
  The 2013 movie “The Night the Comet Came” used a more complex structure to tell the story of the quantum decoherence effect that occurs when parallel worlds overlap when a comet approaches the earth. The film begins with the heroine telling the story of the Tunguska explosion to seven friends gathering at home. Subsequently, every time there is a power outage in the room, people come in and out, and most of the people who come back do not belong to the original world. Each time, it will bring about interpersonal relationships and even the world. A surprising change of order. The content of the film draws on the background of the Tunguska Big Bang Comet hypothesis, and adds parallel time and space and quantum decoherence effects to explore the relationship between choices and consequences.
  Literary works and film and television works have brought the Tunguska explosion back to our sight countless times. The “Tungussia explosion” is like a prototype and has become an ingenious topic for people to discuss the mysteries of the universe after dinner.
  (Editor: Minami Junyue)
scientific cause
Tunguska explosion

The magnitude of the earthquake after hitting the ground was equivalent to 5.0 on the Richter scale.

The explosion destroyed 80 million trees over an area of ​​about 2,000 square kilometers.

  More than a hundred years ago, an alien object crashed into the depths of the Siberian forest, causing one of the most violent spontaneous combustion explosions in modern history.
  Impacting object:
  Scientists speculate: It may be a comet composed of ice and dust or a rocky asteroid. Its diameter is about 60-1000 meters.
  1 The friction between an object and the atmosphere produces an air mass with a diameter of about 5-10 kilometers.
  2 As the object rushed to the surface, it exploded in the air and brought shock waves.
  3 Because the area where the object hit was too remote, it did not attract the attention of the Tsarist Russian government. The area was not scientifically explored until 1927.
  The explosion energy
  is about 12 million tons of TNT. This energy is 1,000 times that of the Hiroshima atomic bomb.   No remnants of the impactor were found
  at the site , and the suspected crater has not been confirmed.

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