The A to Z Challenge is on! Hello and welcome to my Main blog. My name is Rose Anderson and I’m a romance novelist. Join me and more than 2279 bloggers and authors as we blog the alphabet throughout the month of April. My daily posts will be mostly history with some science topics here and there. I’ve chosen subjects that tickle my fancy, I hope you will find them interesting too.
Keep the topic rolling! If you have comments or questions, add them at the end of the post. I may not know the answer off the top of my head but I love research and would enjoy discussing my topics further. Comments can be made just below my bio in the tag section.
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Today’s Calliope’s Writing Tablet post is brought to you by the letter T ~
T for Tunguska Event
The morning of June 30, 1908, a mysterious event took place in the northern Russian skies when an object “brighter than the morning sun” ripped through the atmosphere and raced northward. Passengers on the Trans-Siberian railway watched “a massive pillar of fire” roar through the clear sky at a speed estimated to have been one mile per second. A sonic boom followed as it passed, rocking the train cars and convincing the engineer that his train had been derailed.
Just seconds later, nearly 400 miles north of the train, the Evenki peoples, nomadic hunter gatherers of Siberia, witnessed what seemed to be “a second sun racing across the heavens”. Just a few miles overhead, the roaring iridescent fireball streaked towards earth. Fearing for their lives, the Evenki ran to their tents for shelter. When the fireball exploded some thirty miles away, the tents and the Evenki “were lifted high into the air” and “knocked unconscious”. One man had been thrown 40 feet into the air and landed in a tree. He later died from his injuries. Wildlife and herds of reindeer stampeded away from the explosion only to be incinerated by a searing blast of heat. The indigenous peoples would later say the strange and deadly event was due to the god Ogdy, the Old Man of the Thunder.
The plume of hot dust trailing the fireball was quickly replaced by a giant cloud of black smoke rising over the horizon. At a trading post a short distance away, an eyewitness said:
“I was sitting on the porch of the house at the trading station, looking north. Suddenly in the north…the sky was split in two, and high above the forest the whole northern part of the sky appeared covered with fire. I felt a great heat, as if my shirt had caught fire… At that moment there was a bang in the sky, and a mighty crash… I was thrown twenty feet from the porch and lost consciousness for a moment…. The crash was followed by a noise like stones falling from the sky, or guns firing. The earth trembled…. At the moment when the sky opened, a hot wind, as if from a cannon, blew past the huts from the north. It damaged the onion plants. Later, we found that many panes in the windows had been blown out and the iron hasp in the barn door had been broken.”
The effects of the Tunguska event went well beyond Siberia. An atmospheric shock wave circled the Earth twice and shook seismograph needles like a magnitude 5.0 earthquake. Elsewhere crops were ruined and windows broken. A flash fire burned thousands of trees near the impact site and filled the sky with smoke and ash. For two days there was so much fine dust reflecting light in the atmosphere, that night skies were bright some 6,000 miles away. Historical accounts in London say it was possible to read newspapers and play cricket outdoors at midnight. This might have been caused by ice in the upper atmosphere rather than ash alone. (see Curious Clouds link below)
It’s estimated eight hundred square miles of remote forest had been blasted and eighty million trees were knocked down like so many matchsticks. Yet no crater was ever found. One of the most unusual details came from an aerial survey carried out in 1938. Flattened trees were angled away from the epicenter and all were branchless “like telephone poles” lying in a radial pattern. Such trees were seen in Hiroshima, Japan.
Here’s the impact area. See the center point? >>>
Whatever it was that exploded over Siberia, the directions of flattened trees gives information about the object’s trajectory. The unknown “object” appears to have approached Tunguska from the southeast at about 7 miles a second. Using this data, scientists were able to plot possible orbits for it. Of the 886 orbits calculated, more than 80% were asteroid orbits. Only a few were orbits associated with comets. Some propose that the Tunguska object was a fragment of Comet Encke, the comet responsible for the Beta Taurids meteor shower we see in late June and July — the same time of year as the Tunguska event. Makes sense to me. It’s estimated an asteroid on the order of one mile in diameter hits the Earth roughly once every 100,000 years or so. Here’s the full-detail hypothesis from NASA:
It is estimated the asteroid entered Earth’s atmosphere traveling at a speed of about 33,500 miles per hour. During its rapid fall to earth, the 220-million-pound space rock heated the air surrounding it to 44,500 degrees Fahrenheit. At 7:17 a.m. Siberia time, at a height of about 28,000 feet, the combination of pressure and heat caused the asteroid to fragment and annihilate itself, producing a fireball and releasing energy equivalent to about 185 Hiroshima bombs dropped during WWII.
Another such event occurred in South America in 1930 and it known as the Brazilian Tunguska. Apparently, this lesser-known event was caused by three large meteorites falling deep in the Amazon. The fires it caused burned uninterrupted for weeks and deforested hundreds of miles of jungle.
The study continues
As with any mystery, Tunguska theories abound. It was even an episode in the X-Files TV show. Soil samples reveal nothing so speculation runs wild from exploding comet to meteor, black holes and antimatter falling to earth, to aliens and alien technology that saved the world by deploying itself and shooting an asteroid out of the air. It’s even suspected by some that Nicola Tesla’s experiments caused this. That last Tesla theory tickles me. Hey, I’m a writer. 😀
This is long but well worth the time
Same place, another mystery?
This will either blow your mind or make you shake your head!
Tomorrow ~ letter U
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