Friday, July 4, 2008

The Tunguska Blast

A hundred years ago this week, a mysterious explosion in Siberia devastated the region. To date, no one knows why. It's enough to make you think...
The first expedition to try to find the "Tunguska meteorite" did not take place until the late 1920s when a crater was drained resulting in the discovery of nothing more cosmic than an old tree stump. After World War II, searches resumed, but again proved fruitless.

And even though the effects of the blast wave that destroyed 80 million trees are still visible today, "meteoreticians," as some theorists are know, have found no point of impact to support their claim,

"Up to this day, not a single fragment of the Tunguska phenomenon, no cosmic substance has been found. That's the main reason why there isn't any even fundamental understanding (of the phenomenon) yet," said Boris Mushailov, a professor at the Sternberg Astronomical Institute in Moscow.

Mushailov was one of the organizers of an international conference last week at the Russian Academy of Sciences, devoted to the Tunguska Event.

He said he leans toward a "comet theory," explaining that an object could have entered Earth's atmosphere and burst into pieces up to 10 kilometers above the Tunguska river -- causing the giant explosion -- but scattering the object into smaller debris most of which burnt up.

So-called "alternativists," however, reject the meteor and comet theories, because of the lack of a major crater or fragments.

Their search for more unlikely explanations has led to the site becoming a Mecca for UFO enthusiasts, spawning a Tunguska meteorite museum and scores of photographs of what are claimed to be parts of extra terrestrial craft discovered in the area.

As the debate rages on, many scientists say the Tunguska event could be a harbinger of a genuine scientific phenomenon that could spell disaster for life on Earth.

Kind of like that Global Warming thing? How about we dedicate some resources to three things--alternative energy, studying Global Warming, and preparing ourselves for the possibility of another Tunguska.


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