Mystery of 1908 blast 1,000 times stronger than an A-bomb: Solved?

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May 6, 2013

One Russian scientist think he's finally got the "Tunguska Event" figured out.

In June 1908 (nearly 105 years ago now), an explosion rocked the forest land of Tunguska, Siberia, in Russia, killing one person and flattening trees (pictured above) in an area as big as Tokyo. The blast is said to have packed 1,000 times the power of the atomic bomb detonated at Hiroshima in 1945. Many explanations have been proposed to explain the event, including an exploding UFO, but the prevailing theory is that an asteroid or comet exploded while entering Earth's atmosphere. That explanation certainly makes sense, but no one's ever been able to prove it, until now.

Andrei E. Zlobin, a researcher with the Russian Academy of Sciences' Vernadsky State Geological Museum, says he visited the Tunguska site in 1988 and collected more than 100 stones from the nearby Khushmo River, believing that they could be meteorite fragments. Twenty years later, he took another look at these samples and found that three particular stones caught his eye.

Zlobin nicknamed the three samples "dental crown" (1), "whale" (2) and "boat" (3). He claims all three have evidence of melting and "regmaglypts," indentations that occur in meteorites as they endure the heat from entering Earth's atmosphere. Zlobin claims that the Tunguska event could not have generated enough heat to melt rocks that were already on the ground, and concludes that the only explanation for these rocks is that they are fragments of a comet or asteroid that exploded over Tunguska in 1908. Zlobin submitted his findings last week to arXiv.org, an online reprint depository for scientific papers, but questions linger about the accuracy of his findings. For one thing, the research still needs to be tested by other scientists, and the rocks need to undergo a chemical analysis. For another, it's still not clear why, if Zlobin found these rocks 25 years ago, he waited until just recently to make his findings public.

"It's not hard to imagine that the political changes that engulfed the Soviet Union in the year after his expedition may have played a role in this, but it still requires some explaining," read a May 2 post on the Physics arXiv Blog

Still, it seems Zlobin's research may end up confirming the prevailing theory of what caused the Tunguska event. What do you think? Is the case closed, or do we need a second (or third, or fourth) opinion?

(Via Huffington Post)


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