Monday, July 07, 2008

100 Years Later, Mysterious Tunguska Event Continues to Amaze

What annihilated 830 square miles of forest in Siberia 100 years ago? On the centennial anniversary, there's a bunch of coverage out there of the event: from the NY Times' rambling, boring coverage to Discover magazine's more succinct and fascinating piece and everything in between (here's a piece from Scientific American with lots of pics).

Here are some pretty amazing details from the Discover Magazine piece:

  • The explosion likely occurred four to six miles above the Earth's surface
  • The culprit was probably a meteor less than 100 feet across
  • Moving at 21,000 mph, the rock unleashed a blast 1000-times more powerful than an atom bomb (somewhere between 10 and 15 megatons of TNT)
  • Light from the event was visible as far away as London. And it was more than just a flash. "Londoners could still read their newspapers by the mysterious light in the night sky a day or so later."
  • No extraterrestrial material was ever recovered from the blast zone
  • Some speculate the explosion was caused by "an enormous upwelling of methane gas from beneath the Earth's crust."

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.