The Tunguska event, a bizarre explosion that took place in 1908 just passed its 106 year anniversary. It happened in a remote region of Siberia called Tunguska, and it is still a mystery today. An explosion of unknown origin with power more than 1,000 greater than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima leveled over 800 square miles of forest. What exactly caused such a massive explosion?
To this day there is an ongoing debate over what could have caused the widespread devastation. When viewed from a distance, the damage at Tunguska appears to be similar to that caused by a nuclear weapon. However, at the time of the explosion, nuclear weapons were still many years away from being perfected. Even if it was a weapon, it is unimaginable to think that a weapon of that power could have been built so long ago.
The most likely argument for the Tunguska event is that it was caused by a comet that exploded in the Earth’s atmosphere above the region. If it was a comet, though, then it would have had to have been one that was fairly large. Since at the time of the explosion there was a huge interest in space, and many telescopes were in use around the world, many wonder how such a large comet could approach the Earth undetected.
On the 106 year anniversary of the strange occurrence, there was much speculation about the original cause of the blast. One of the reasons that the Tunguska event remains such a mystery is that it went unexplored for 20 years. The region of Siberia that was affected was so remote that there was simply no way for scientists to get to the site any sooner. Any evidence of what actually caused the massive explosion could have long since been lost before the first scientist arrived to investigate.
Conspiracy theorists have claimed that the Tunguska event was caused by anything from an exploding alien spacecraft to a micro black hole. The truth is probably far less exotic, but that does not make it any less fascinating. In addition to being fascinated by the Tunguska event, some say, it should also be viewed as a cautionary tale. It is frightening to imagine what might have happened if the comet that caused the Tunguska event had struck a populated area. In the modern era the world is much more densely populated which means that if a similar event were to take place today the devastation would be unimaginable. Given the potential for disaster, many feel, it is probably far past time that the governments of the world devote more resources to looking at threats from space.
The Tunguska event struck with such force that its shock waves could be detected on the other side of the planet. It was perhaps one of the most powerful explosions on Earth since the extinction event that ended the era of the dinosaurs. Making matters even more concerning is that nobody saw it coming.
As the Tunguska event had its 106 year anniversary last month, many have been questioning just how much danger asteroids currently pose to Earth. When it comes to a comet or asteroid impact on Earth it is not a matter of if it happens, it is a matter of when it happens, say experts. Some feel that knowing the potential threat exists should be a major source of motivation for scientists to locate potential threats, and then find a way to deal with them. The Tunguska event may still be a mystery, but, according to some experts, it is a mystery from which the scientific community can learn.
By: Rebecca Savastio