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Space Science

No Black Hole Or Magnetic Monopole: Tunguska Really Was a Meteor 128

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-about-aliens dept.
davide-nature writes "The mysterious blast that flattened 2,000 square km of a remote Siberian forest in 1908 has been blamed on the most bizarre causes, such as an exotic elementary particle left over from the Big Bang, a black hole or, of course, aliens, including in the double-episode 'Tunguska' of The X-Files. But a new analysis of tiny rock samples suggests that a more mundane explanation — a meteor exploding in the atmosphere — may be the right one. The blast is estimated to have packed between 3 and 5 megatons, 10 times the energy of the meteor that exploded over Russia earlier this year."
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No Black Hole Or Magnetic Monopole: Tunguska Really Was a Meteor

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @05:09PM (#43978559)

    Now I can go back to being terrified about terrorists. The black hole thing really had me pissing myself.

  • by saturnianjourneyman (2913341) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @05:14PM (#43978613)
    Wasn't aware there was any controversy about this. I always thought it was believed to be a meteor or comet. Of course, I underestimated the power of human imagination. I shouldn't be surprised that some people out there thought it was OMG ALIENS or maybe a strange dark matter bomb placed by the Romulans. After all, if there's a needlessly complicated, idiotic rationale for how the Pyramids have straight walls, there must be one for a giant explosion in Siberia.
    • by g0bshiTe (596213) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @05:20PM (#43978691)
      I agree because clearly the ancient egyptians couldn't possibly have though to tie two sticks together at a 90 degree angle and dangle a string weighted to make a plum line. I mean really.
      • by sysrammer (446839)

        Kudos. You went fishing and filled your stringer.

      • That's a plumb line, Bob.

        But a plum pie is tastier than plumb pi. Which makes no sense at all.

      • easy way for you to make a 90 degree angle.

        1 get a rope make it into a circle and mark it into 12 even units
        2 plant a peg where you want the 90 degree angle to be
        3 run the line along where you want one of the walls to be and stop at 3 units and plant a second peg
        4 run the line out to 8 units and then plant your third peg (there are 5 units between peg 2 and 3)
        5 there will be 4 units left.

      • by aug24 (38229)
        ISTR that blocks of stone have been located at the 3-4-5 distances of a right angle triangle to get a perfect right angle for the base of at least one pyramid.
    • by sjames (1099)

      Clearly the Tunguska explosion was the result of a Sasquatch convincing the Loch Ness Monster to try chewing tobacco.

      Either that or Mikey traveled time when he tried the pop rocks and cola.

      • Well, according to 2000AD Prog 81 (yes, I'm old), some researchers were sent back in time to find out what happened. They appeared over Tunguska moments before the explosion, were converted to anti-matter and Bob's your uncle. Florix Grabundae .
      • by gtall (79522)

        You are way off. This was clearly a trial run for the World Trade Center attack. If the Kennedy Assassination hadn't happened, we'd have had Mafia hitmen doing the deed on 9/11.

    • Wasn't aware there was any controversy about this. I always thought it was believed to be a meteor or comet. Of course, I underestimated the power of human imagination.

      I think there was a tiny window of doubt because no large remnant could be found, but 'icy comet fragment' and 'explosion at altitude' were always plausible explanations for that, even before the Chelyabinsk meteor convincingly demonstrated the latter.

    • The one-Alien-fits-all explanation of everything must be scaled down since we know a journey to Mars will expose prospective candidates to deadly doses of radiations from cosmic rays. It must be understood alien supposedly to travel from another stellar system or even another galaxy have to be exposed to a much more higher dose of radiations at a point even the radiation resistant bacteria http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deinococcus_radiodurans [wikipedia.org] wouldn't survive itself.
      • by gtall (79522)

        Aliens come here by skipping dimensions. They get up, have their coffee, jump into Mr. Dimension, and bingo, they're here to annoy us Earthlings with anal probes. The only interesting part is that no one knows what they get out it except a few yucks: Hey Zaphod, you'll never guess what I found.

    • by dbIII (701233)
      In fact a remember a few years ago hearing a radio interview with a meteorite expert where he uttered the line "like the meteor in Tunguska". It came up again with the more recent meteor seen in the sky in Russia where the difference in the strength of the shock waves was mentioned.
    • by MtViewGuy (197597)

      Some had thought it was a comet, but here's the thing: people would have distinctly seen the "tail" of even a small comet as it approached the Earth, entered the atmosphere, and then detonated over Tunguska. The detonating meteor theory makes more sense, since you normally can't see the meteor with the naked eye before it enters the atmosphere and if the small meteor enters the atmosphere at a shallow angle at 35,000 to 40,000 mph, the atmospheric friction would be strong enough to cause the small meteor to

      • Some had thought it was a comet, but here's the thing: people would have distinctly seen the "tail" of even a small comet as it approached the Earth,

        Comet's tails tend to fade away as the surface volatiles get used up.

  • It's amazing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It's amazing that so many people preferred/prefer to believe that black holes or UFO's were the cause of the Tunguska event. Why is it so hard, for some people, to believe the most probable cause, a meteor, was the cause? Just looking at the moon shows that meteor impacts are not uncommon.

    • Re:It's amazing (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @06:08PM (#43979157) Homepage
      Because, like most conspiracy theories, believing in them makes you feel cleverer than the sheeple around you.
      • by quenda (644621)

        Because, like most conspiracy theories, believing in them makes you feel cleverer than the sheeple around you.

        I don't accept that hypothesis. There are much easier beliefs to make you feel superior without being mocked so much. One could become a wine-buff / audiophile / art-lover, join a small religion, join a worthy political group, or even drive a Prius.

    • The lack of an impact crater has obviously confused innumerable people over the last 100yrs or so, many of them lack the skill to determine the most probable cause and distrust "experts", others see that as an opportunity for fun and/or profit.

      As an example, I saw a doco once called "The sidewalk astronomer", basically the guy would set up a decent telescope on a city street (LA, IIRC) and invite people to have a free look at either the moon or the sun. The vast majority of people were appreciative of th
    • by quenda (644621)

      It's amazing that so many people preferred/prefer to believe that black holes or UFO's

      I think it is an unfortunate side-effect of the religion gene. Evolution favoured certain kinds of irrational belief, and like religion, belief in aliens rarely occurs in isolation, but in geographical and social clusters.

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @05:53PM (#43978989) Homepage

    Only in recent years has it become clear how much loose rock is floating around this solar system. Big hits are rare, but near misses of objects in the multi-ton range are not.

    • by emho24 (2531820)
      Imagine how our world would be today if that comet did not explode over a relatively unpopulated area, but instead exploded over a major metropolitan area.
  • by jfdavis668 (1414919) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @05:53PM (#43978991)
    So where is the dash cam video to prove it?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It was an interdimensional cross rip

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Tuesday June 11, 2013 @06:49PM (#43979511) Journal
    It is not a well known, but the fact was magnetic monopoles were quite common before 1890s. Most people would just buy one pole, two was considered a needless luxury or waste. But the Big Magnet did not like it and wanted to double their sales. Their magnets with both the north and the south pole languished on the shelves, unable to, ahem, attract customers. So the lobbied congress, and as usual they added a completely irrelevant rider to Sherman anti-trust legislation [wikipedia.org] and banned monopoles as well as cartels, trusts and collusion. Pretty soon they stopped making them.
    • by jbburks (853501)
      Banned monopoles?

      Does that mean we're going to have more of those fake-tree cellular towers? I like the monopoles better.

    • No mention of the east or west magnetic poles.... It's A ConsPiracy!

  • Meteoroid!

    • Meteoroids are in space; meteors burn up (or explode?) in the atmosphere, meteorites strike earth.

      • A meteor is the visible phenomenon, a 'shooting star'.

        • by Xtifr (1323)

          Man I love people who offer opinions about language without even checking the most basic references. (Which, in my experience, is about 95% of all self-appointed "grammar nazis").

          Collins English Dictionary:

          meteor n
          1. (Astronomy) a very small meteoroid that has entered the earth's atmosphere. Such objects have speeds approaching 70 kilometres per second
          2. (Astronomy) Also called shooting star or falling star; the bright streak of light appearing in the sky due to the incandescence of such a body heated by f

  • Anyone here ever hear about the Dyatlov Pass Incident [wikipedia.org] in Russia?

    Now that is a truly interesting, bizarre, and difficult to understand/explain happening...

  • In other news, the explosion was said not to be caused by a teapot bearing the label "made on earth".

  • Other things that probably didn't cause the Tunguska event: demons, kangaroos, cell phone radiation, the moon hitting your eye like a big pizza pie.

  • Well duh.... Since when has Occam's Razor been dead? Why do crackpot theories even get mentioned when the simplest explanation (meteor) is ignored?
    • by srussia (884021)

      Well duh.... Since when has Occam's Razor been dead? Why do crackpot theories even get mentioned when the simplest explanation (meteor) is ignored?

      Not dead, it's just that he decided to go five blades [theonion.com].

  • I believe that most asteroids are just a huge dust ball held together by gravity, no big rocks, just lots and lots of small particles gathering around a small core. With that view of an asteroid, an explosion in the atmosphere would be expected, and almost no solids would reach the ground.
    • by Guy Harris (3803)

      I believe that most asteroids are just a huge dust ball held together by gravity, no big rocks, just lots and lots of small particles gathering around a small core. With that view of an asteroid, an explosion in the atmosphere would be expected, and almost no solids would reach the ground.

      And the evidence that supports this belief, and doesn't also support other beliefs, is?

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