Today, June 30th, is the 102nd anniversary of the Tunguska explosion in Siberia. Thought I forgot about it, didn't ya?
It is generally agreed that the explosion, which devastated an area of about 30 square miles, was an airburst of a meteor or small asteroid or comet fragment. Estimates vary, but a general figure of 5 - 30 megatons would have caused the damage - a good-size H-bomb. No crater was found. Trees were knocked down over a radius of 10 miles. The blast was heard 600 miles a away ("eight sharp reports as from a cannon").
Witnesses in the nearby town of Kirensk described the event variously as a "pillar of fire", "a ball of fire, coming down obliquely", "a flying star with a fiery tail". In other words, something fell out of the sky very, very fast.
Various kooks, not happy with the prosaic explanation of a stone falling from the sky, attribute Tunguska to everything from a piece of antimatter to a mini black hole to Nicola Tesla's Death Ray. Suffice to say, I have neither the time nor inclination to explain why these alternate explanations are horseshit, although I will debunk Tesla.
The story goes that Tesla was trying to devise a method of transferring electrical power through the air or earth. With financing from J.P. Morgan, he built an enormous Tesla tower on Long Island. In an experiment, he supposedly contacted Richard Peary to look for unusual events at the North Pole. On the evening of June 30th, he aimed his particle beam death ray at the North Pole, but overshot and hit Tunguska.
Aside from the fact that this sounds like something I wrote in the fucking 4th grade, someone forgot about the International Dateline. June 30th in New York City is July 1st in Siberia. If you draw a great circle from NYC to the North Pole, it comes nowhere near the impact site. And if Tesla had managed to direct a particle beam, the emission strength would be such that Long Island, and most of Manhattan, would have been vaporized. I think someone would have noticed that. Not to mention, I think Santa would have pitched a major bitch about the whole seedy affair.
Face it folks, Tesla was desitute, insane, and showing a distressing tendency of attempting to fuck pigeons at the sorry stage of life when he started talking about his death ray. And the US Government would be using it at every opportunity since 1937. Blah. Blah. Blah.
But you know, plenty of fast moving boulders out there. Something to think about.