Morning time, 07:14 a.m., June 30th, 1908. Location, the stony Tunguska river in eastern Siberia, Russia. The morning calm is shattered by a monstrous explosion, the most powerful natural explosion ever recorded in history. It is said that the explosion was a 1000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The area is sparsely populated and hence human casualties were minimum, one local deer herder reportedly died. However, there was extensive damage to the flora and fauna. The explosion flattened an area of more that 2000 sq.km(770 sq miles). Hundreds of reindeer were reduced to charred carcasses.Some of the eyewitnesses reported seeing the entire sky engulfed in fire followed by deafening explosion and then noise like stones crashing or gunfire. The shock wave was registered by seismic stations across Eurasia measuring 5.0 on the Richter scale. It also caused fluctuations in the atmospheric pressure that were detected in England. Here is an eyewitness account as recorded by Leonid Kulik’s expedition.
“At breakfast time I was sitting by the house at Vanavara Trading Post [65 kilometres/40 miles south of the explosion], facing north. […] I suddenly saw that directly to the north, over Onkoul’s Tunguska Road, the sky split in two and fire appeared high and wide over the forest [as Semenov showed, about 50 degrees up—expedition note]. The split in the sky grew larger, and the entire northern side was covered with fire. At that moment I became so hot that I couldn’t bear it as if my shirt was on fire; from the northern side, where the fire was, came strong heat. I wanted to tear off my shirt and throw it down, but then the sky shut closed, and a strong thump sounded, and I was thrown a few meters. I lost my senses for a moment, but then my wife ran out and led me to the house. After that such noise came, as if rocks were falling or cannons were firing, the earth shook, and when I was on the ground, I pressed my head down, fearing rocks would smash it. When the sky opened up, hot wind raced between the houses, like from cannons, which left traces in the ground like pathways, and it damaged some crops. Later we saw that many windows were shattered, and in the barn, a part of the iron lock snapped.”
However, there was little immediate interest shown by the Russian Government which could be due to the political strife and the impending Russian revolution. It was only after about 20 years in 1927 that an expedition led by Leonid Kulik visited the spot to investigate. What he found was a large area of flattened trees about 50 km wide in a strange butterfly shape. He surmised that a meteor had exploded above the area but curiously there was no crater at ground zero. Later, to explain this he suggested that the ground was covered in swamps and was too soft to hold the debris. It could have been buried few meters deep. In 1938, he wrote in his conclusions that they would find the substances usually associated with such meteors at a depth of about 25 meters. Russian researchers later said that it could have been a comet. Comets are commonly made up of ice and dust and it could have evaporated while entering the earth’s atmosphere which made sense since no alien substances were found. But an exact convincing explanation still eluded the researchers.
In the absence of a convincing proof, many interesting theories were put forth. One such theory was that the explosion was caused by matter and anti matter collision. If that happens, particles get destroyed resulting in release of extreme bursts of energy. Another one suggested crash of a huge alien spaceship! In 2008, an Italian team of scientists suggested that lake Cheko, 5 miles north-north-west of the explosion’s epicenter could be the impact crater. Curiously, this lake was not on the maps before the Tunguska event. Luca Gasperini of the University of Bologna, Italy believes that there is no other way to explain the origin of that lake. However, other scientists were quick to dismiss this idea pointing to the well grown and unaffected trees all around the lake. In the event of an impact, the vegetation around the lake would have been completely destroyed. Another interesting theory attributes the explosion to Nikola Tesla! And why not??!! Tesla is known to have done things that amaze us even today. As it turns out, Nikola Tesla was working on his most ambitious project yet, the Wardenclyffe tower. With this, he envisaged worldwide wireless communications, worldwide transmission of free electricity and a defensive directed energy weapon.
However, funding for this project was stopped by J.P. Morgan who obviously did not want free energy to be distributed throughout the world. It is said that a disillusioned Tesla wanted to demonstrate the power of his directed energy weapon and aimed it at the at the North pole. But a calculation mistake resulted the weapon overshooting the North pole and ultimately Tunguska had the bear the brunt. In the absence of concrete proofs there are numerous theories floating around, some plausible, some bizarre. Since 1908, more than 1000 scholarly papers have been published on the event and the event still continues to be investigated. Whatever it was, the jury is still out as to what exactly happened that morning on 30th June 1908.