When we talk of mysterious events worldwide, we simply cannot ignore the infamous Tunguska Explosion, which till date – after more than a century – still remains an unsolved mystery or perhaps, remains a closely guarded secret. In this article, we will not only learn about the Tunguska Explosion (aka Tunguska Event or Tunguska Disaster) but will also learn about one of the most interesting theories about the true cause of the disaster. We will break up this article into two parts – (a) the first part will deal with some facts (if we say so) about the event which have been floating around for over a century now and (b) the second part will deal with the theory that tries to connect Nikola Tesla with the event. Each part is interesting enough to grab your attention if you happen to be great fan of mysteries and disasters.
Part 1: The Tunguska Explosion Facts
The Tunguska Explosion Facts: 1-15 (The event and its effects)
1. The Tunguska Explosion took place in 1908 on June 30 at 7:14 AM. The event took place close to Siberia’s Podkamennaya Tunguska River.
2. The area where the blast occurred is today shown on world map as Krasnoyarsk Krai in Russia.
3. Sources such as Wikipedia state that the explosion took place is such a remote location of Siberia that not even a single life was lost despite the fact that forests covering the area of 770 square miles or 2,000 square kilometers were completely destroyed.
4. In case you are not able to get a visual picture of the overall area, consider thinking of Greater London. If the whole of Greater London was a forest, the whole of it was destroyed by the blast and the resulting fire.
5. However, descendants of eyewitnesses say that hundreds of people died because of the blast and the worst hit were the Tungus people. Whole clans were simply wiped out of existence because of the explosion.
6. It is said that the force of the explosion was equal to 1000 times the force of the atom bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima.
7. In the aftermath of the explosion, seismic waves traveled through earth all the way up to 600 miles from explosion epicenter.
8. These vibrations lasted for nearly 60 minutes. Seismographs all around the world recorded the vibrations.
9. Not just ripples of shockwave through earth’s surface, the massive sound generated by the explosion also traveled to great distances and that didn’t happen just once. That happened multiple times!
10. In fact, so loud was the sound 800 kilometers from blast epicenter, a train engineer in Kansk city was forced into stopping a train fearing that a freight car exploded.
11. The explosion left behind a destruction path that followed a radial pattern. 80 million trees were flattened and burned.
12. A massive amount of dust moved up in sky. The rising dust hovered over the European nations as well as Central Asia, reflecting enough light that caused bright luminescence.
13. The sole eyewitness of the event reported seeing a blinding light high in the sky right above the forest. It appeared out of nowhere and then there was a loud bang…enormously loud…
According to the eyewitness:
“I was there in Vanovara trading station. I was on a porch. It was about 7:00 AM and I was gazing towards the northern sky. Suddenly, there was a bright light – a blazing fire covering the northern sky and splitting the whole sky into two parts. I could feel the heat and my shirt caught fire. In about a minute from then, there was a crash…a mighty one…a loud bang that almost tore apart the whole sky. I was knocked off from my porch and landed some 5 to 6 meters from the spot I was sitting. I became unconscious for about a couple of minutes I guess…” [Please note that the narrative of the eyewitness has not been copied word by word. It has rather been rephrased to avoid copyright issues.]
14. It is interesting to note that Vanovara was 40 miles or 64.37 kilometers away from epicenter of the blast and still, if the eyewitness recollected his memories properly, it was strong enough to fit the description of a nuclear blast!
The Tunguska Explosion Facts: 16-30 (Theories to explain the disaster)
16. Once attention was diverted, several theories popped up. Some of these theories were outlandish claims but yes, every possibility was being explored.
17. One of the most popular theory was aerial cometary burst. In this theory, it was claimed that a comet came in shooting through the atmosphere and then because of extreme heating, it led to quick evaporation of frozen cosmic dust, ice and gasses at the core of the comet. The pressure that developed at the core led to the explosion of the comet, unleashing the devastation that took place in Tunguska.
18. It was Francis Whipple – a British meteorologist who came up with the aerial cometary burst theory in 1930. Okay! Let us for the instance, believe in this theory. If it is correct, the sudden luminosity that was witnessed by eyewitness of the event is explained well. But, there is a problem. Where was the charred rubble of the comet? Nothing was found!
19. In 1978, scientists found samples of miniscule samples of minerals and interestingly, 99.5% of the minerals found were actually carbon. Iridium and troilite were also found in trace quantities. Putting these minerals under advanced tech revealed that the composition of the minerals was possible only if the object that came through atmosphere was not a comet but an iron meteorite.
20. Alright! Meteorite or asteroid or whatever hell it was, the question is, ‘the question is, if at all an object from outer space came in and exploded in air, there is no way there will miniscule amounts of material left behind. There has to be extraordinary amounts of rubble. Also, the event lasted an hour. This is completely against meteorite theory.
21. Furthermore, if we assume that the object didn’t really explode but rather slammed on land then, where the hell was the impact crater? Nope! It was not an asteroid or an iron meteorite slamming into earth.
22. Then there was this theory of a freak chunk of antimatter or a miniature black hole colliding with earth. It was Lincoln LaPaz who proposed this antimatter annihilation theory in 1941. According to LaPaz, a chunk of antimatter ended up colliding with earth and was destroyed in the process, leaving behind the massive trail of destruction.
23. Let us take is theory as true. It is right that if antimatter collides with earth, it will create that bright luminescence and there will be no cometary rubble or impact crater left behind. Cool! Does that solve the problem? Nope!
24. Problem is, the amount of antimatter required for the destruction of that scale cannot theoretically exist in such large chunks. Another problem, it at all antimatter is to blame, such annihilation collision will take place in outer atmosphere and will not make it through to the surface of earth.
25. Then came Michael P. Ryan and Albert A. Jackson – the two American scientists who proposed in 1973 that it was a miniature black hole that collided with earth and passed right through it. Huh! Interesting but problematic. If the black hole is to pass through earth, there has be something known as exit event in which, the black hole needs to shoot right out of North Atlantic Ocean, causing another explosion of almost same magnitude. There was none. So, this little black hole theory was discarded my almost all of the scientific community. Good try Americans!
26. An UFO exploded! Guess what? This was the work of science fiction writer – Alexander Kazancev. According to his version, a spaceship from some other world came in and something really went wrong with this nuclear-powered UFO and then…BANG! He came with this theory in 1956 after visiting both Hiroshima and Tunguska. There were striking similarities between the two places.
27. Okay! So, there was a possible nuclear explosion. Fine! Let us go and find nuclear radiations and traces of radioactive elements, said all scientists. Sadly, only traces of radiations were found and Soviet government made it a point that the access to the area be close to everyone. All scientific research and documents were seized by what is now KGB and the newspapers were instructed to circulate the story that the explosion was caused by a meteorite.
28. Now there was another explanation – the Thunder God – Agda was responsible! This was definitely an outlandish claim but a survivor of Evenki tribe said that the God of Thunder, Agda was not happy with the tribal people because of their frequent disputes. This is why Agda released demons that had fiery tails and shining eyes. The demons were sent by Agda because he wanted to punish the disobedient people and thereby destroyed everything in the area.
29. So popular was the belief among the Evenki tribe survivors that they declared the whole area as sacred and even sealed it off, attacking and expelling many Soviet scientists who tried to investigate the area several decades after the explosion.
30. The Tunguska Explosion was not widely reported for many decades. Not only was the remote location partly responsible, the secretive nature of the Russian government back then was also a reason why world knew very little about what happened there.
Part 2: Did Nikola Tesla Cause Tunguska Explosion?
Though it sounds outrageously crazy, many people now say that the explosion was caused experiment conducted by the famous scientist and inventor – Nikola Tesla. There is however a difference in opinion between people regarding this and there are two separate groups of people who theorize Tesla’s involvement in two different ways:
- The first group says: The Tunguska Disaster was an ‘Oops’ moment of Tesla’s experiment. Simply put, it was caused by a miscalculation.
- The second group says: Tesla was actually testing a weapon of Mass Destruction.
The second group of people are somewhat small in number and pretty much isolated because it is a well-established fact that Tesla was very much against such weapons. For instance, he was even invited for the Manhattan Project (which US has a track record of clearly denying any involvement in) but Tesla turned it down.
Rather Tesla, who undoubtedly is the undisputed King of inventions in last 500 years, wanted to provide free electricity to the whole world and was working on a project of wireless transmission of the electrical energy.
He was little known for his genius until George Westinghouse – the American entrepreneur took notice of Tesla’s genius in the field of electricity – especially his invention of AC current which was far more superior to DC current invented by Thomas Edison. Westinghouse invited Tesla to harness Niagara Falls’ hydroelectric power. Tesla did it and it was only then that millionaires in America started noticing Nikola Tesla.
It was then that J.P. Morgan came into scene. He gave the financial support Tesla was looking for. In those days (back in 1907 – 1908) Morgan gave him about $150,000 for his experiments. Tesla used the money to start building the Wardenclyffe Tower known as the Tesla Tower in New York’s Long Island. The tower was 187 feet tall and had a spherical dome on top which had a diameter of 68 feet.
Tesla envisioned it as a massive transmitter which would be capable of providing electricity to the entire world without using wires. The only problem was that Tesla did not tell J.P. Morgan about his true intentions of making electricity a free-commodity for the world where the Earth itself would work like a gigantic dynamo and the ionosphere would work as the medium of transmission.
Unfortunately, J.P. Morgan was not a big fan of anything that is free. He was an entrepreneur and wanted to put meter on everything he could lay his hands on. If possible he would even put a meter on sun and control the amount of sunlight that reached earth! So, Morgan pulled away his support.
With Morgan’s support gone, Tesla’s whole career dwindled down and in the science community, he also became a laughing stock. Tesla grew desperate and wanted to prove his genius and decided to make use of the Tesla Tower that was partially completed when Morgan pulled away his support.
So, Tesla wanted to use the tower to direct an electric beam all the way to North Pole where Admiral Peary who always wanted to become world’s first man who reached North Pole via land. Tesla knew that North Pole was frozen and deserted and a highly concentrated electrical beam cannot cause any damage to life. So, he contacted Peary and asked him to witness the event.
Unfortunately, Tesla possibly misjudged the impact gravity can have on the electric beam. So, when Tesla shot his electric beam, it overshot the targeted destination and landed in Tunguska, causing the devastating explosion. So, it was the ‘oops’ moment for Tesla.
Well, we really don’t know what happened in Summer of 1908. It is more than 100 years now and still we have no definitive answer. There are only theories and many people do believe that it was an error in Nikola Tesla’s experiment and Tunguska had pay the price. Does that make Tesla a villain? Not really! It wanted to achieve something good, something for the betterment of humanity. If at all his experiment was the cause of Tunguska Disaster, it was just an unintentional accident with a heavy price.