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Morning Lineup – July 1

JUNE 30 MARKED THE 100th ANNIVERSARY OF THE LARGEST EXPLOSION that has been recorded in modern history.  It was on that morning in 1908 that something celestial entered the earth’s atmosphere over Tunguska, Siberia and exploded approx. 3-5 miles above the ground.


The force of the explosion leveled every tree for 30 miles around and knocked people who were miles away off their feet or out of their chairs.  One man described how he was knocked across the room in his house and his shirt was so hot that he thought it was on fire.  And he was 40 miles away.  The light given off from the blast was seen thousands of miles away in London where it was still nighttime.  For several weeks afterward, there was so much dust in the atmosphere refracting the sunlight over Asia and all of Europe that the nighttime was so light that people could read outside.

The most recent scientific deduction is that the explosion was equal in strength to 1,000 atomic bombs of the size that dropped over Hiroshima.  But because of the remoteness of the location and the brutal weather of Siberia, it wasn’t until 1927 that a team of Russian scientists led by Leonid Kulik were able to explore the site.  Even after 30 years the region was still stripped as it was in 1908.  In subsequent visits, Kulik was able to interview some people who were there and lived through the experience.

[photopress:tung_e_kulik.jpg,full,centered] Leonid Kulik photo taken in 1927

In the decades since, there have been many theories put forth about just what happened.  Of course there are the UFO theories, but none of them have offered any evidence that it was something like an errant space ship that blew up.  The scientific community is certain that it was either a comet, an asteroid or a meteor that came into the atmosphere with such speed that the heat and compression triggered a nuclear-style blast without the radiation.

[photopress:tung_h_1928.jpg,full,centered] 1928 photo

One of the things that has particularly puzzled the scientists is the lack of an impact crater.  While it’s possible that the whole thing destroyed itself in the blast, they haven’t found the meteorite rocks that you would expect.

A group of Italian scientists from the University of Bologna have a new theory and they will be traveling to Tunguska, the crash site, next month to look for more evidence.  One of them noticed on a prior trip that Lake Cheko, about 5 miles from the hypocenter of the blast, has the physical characteristics of an impact crater.  Sonar soundings of the 165-ft.-deep lake have shown a conical depression in the center that is consistent with meteor impacts.

[photopress:tung_a_lakecheska_univbologna.jpg,full,centered] Lake Cheko (Univ. of Bologna photo)

Univ. of Bologna sonar image of possible
crater site in Lake Cheko.

This video report gives some good background of the event and explains the Italians’ theory about Lake Cheko:

For a good, concise history of the Tunguska event, read the Wikipedia entry HERE.  This article includes a few of Kulik’s interviews and describes the telling blast patterns of the fallen trees.

[photopress:tung_g_1998_trees.jpg,full,centered] This photo was taken in 1998, a full 90 years
after the blast, showing one of the original trees
still  there, twisted and just as it has aways been since.

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Ok, let’s get back to business and get this equipment checked out.  I’m going to start the coffee pot.  Then we can meet in the day room and you can tell what you learned about the Tunguska explosion.

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