Awesome or Off-Putting is a weekly delve into cryptozoology, ufology, aliens, medical marvels, scientific wonders, secret societies, government conspiracies, cults, ghosts, EVPs, myths, ancient artifacts, religion, strange facts, odd sightings or just the plain unexplainable.
The Tunguska Blast may not have been a big deal had Bruce Willis been alive to save the world from it. Well, we say the world, but really we mean over 80 million trees, a bunch of wildlife, and definitely anyone who was out jogging in 1908 Russia miles away from the closest anything at all.
You see, on June 30, 1908 in Russia there was a huge explosion way out in the middle of nowhere. It leveled 2,150 square kilometres (830 square miles) of trees – and for the longest time nobody knew what happened. Even after all this time nobody’s absolutely sure – but science has a pretty good idea. And they don’t think it was a temporary miniature black hole, an exploding alien space ship or Paul Bunyan with something to prove.
The Tunguska Blast was a major catastrophe in Russian history, one that can only be solved with educated scientific guesses and endless hypotheses.
And eyewitness reports like this one from a person named Chuchan of Shanyagir tribe:
“We had a hut by the river with my brother Chekaren. We were sleeping. Suddenly we both woke up at the same time. Somebody shoved us. We heard whistling and felt strong wind. Chekaren said, ‘Can you hear all those birds flying overhead?’ We were both in the hut, couldn’t see what was going on outside. Suddenly, I got shoved again, this time so hard I fell into the fire. I got scared. Chekaren got scared too. We started crying out for father, mother, brother, but no one answered. There was noise beyond the hut, we could hear trees falling down.
“Chekaren and I got out of our sleeping bags and wanted to run out, but then the thunder struck. This was the first thunder. The Earth began to move and rock, wind hit our hut and knocked it over. My body was pushed down by sticks, but my head was in the clear. Then I saw a wonder: trees were falling, the branches were on fire, it became mighty bright, how can I say this, as if there was a second sun, my eyes were hurting, I even closed them. It was like what the Russians call lightning. And immediately there was a loud thunderclap.
“This was the second thunder. The morning was sunny, there were no clouds, our Sun was shining brightly as usual, and suddenly there came a second one! “Chekaren and I had some difficulty getting out from under the remains of our hut. Then we saw that above, but in a different place, there was another flash, and loud thunder came. This was the third thunder strike. Wind came again, knocked us off our feet, struck against the fallen trees. “We looked at the fallen trees, watched the tree tops get snapped off, watched the fires.
“Suddenly Chekaren yelled ‘Look up’ and pointed with his hand. I looked there and saw another flash, and it made another thunder. But the noise was less than before. This was the fourth strike, like normal thunder. “Now I remember well there was also one more thunder strike, but it was small, and somewhere far away, where the Sun goes to sleep.”
The strangest thing about the blast is there was no resulting crater. There was no impact, there was no ground zero and there was no smoking volcano. Nothing. Nobody – and we do mean nobody, knew what it was. The blast was 100 times more powerful than the one that leveled Hiroshima, yet it had no obvious cause. Confusing, right?
Here’s what a CNN article said of the matter in an article 100 years later:
“Despite countless investigations, the so-called Tunguska Event remains one of the 20th century’s greatest enigmas — seized upon by mystics, UFO enthusiasts and scientists as evidence of angry gods, extraterrestrial life or the impending threat of a cosmic collision.
“But says Stanislav Krivyakov, who has spent the past 35 years investigating the Siberian blast, despite intense interest in the event — which has featured in several episodes of “The X-Files” — no conclusive evidence has been found to support any theory.”
Like it says there – paranormalists have seized on the blast claiming it to be evidence of aliens, teleportation or something worse. Some, however, believe the whole thing was caused far more locally – by Thomas Edison‘s rival Nikola Tesla. According to ArmageddonOnline.org:
“It has also been suggested that the Tunguska explosion was the result of an experiment by Nikola Tesla at his Wardenclyffe Tower, performed during Robert Peary’s second North Pole expedition. Tesla had claimed that the tower could be used to transmit electromagnetic energy across large distances. The Wardenclyffe Tower was designed to utilize the largest version of Tesla’s patented magnifying transmitter, popularly known as the Tesla Coil, to transmit electrical power into the earth as well as the upper atmosphere.
“In 1908, Tesla allegedly sent a cryptic communication to the American explorer, Robert E. Peary, advising him to be on the alert and make notes of any unusual auroral phenomena encountered as he attempted to reach the North Pole. Allegedly Tesla fired up his transmitter for a trial run and attempted to generate and direct his ethereal oscillations toward the North Pole in the hope of stimulating the polar aurora and perhaps attracting world attention to his invention. It is alleged that Tesla’s trial run coincided with the Tunguska event in Siberia.”
This theory is quickly discounted by the scientific community, but it seems as good as any other explanation, if you ask us. The point is nobody knows exactly what happened, and no inquiring scientific minds bothered to check it out until years after the explosion occurred.
In a side note – did you know the Tunguska Blast was mentioned in Ghost Busters? Dan Aykroyd refers to the demise of Gozer and all that accompanied it as something like the greatest paranormal event since the Tunguska Blast of 1909.
His quote was a year late. That’s all we remember.