Wardenclyffe Spotlight: The Tunguska Event
For the last week or two, I’ve been discussing the characters that make The Wardenclyffe Horror in interesting story, but as interesting as our heroes are they can’t carry the day alone. What Tesla and Twain need, what any characters need, is a really need is an interesting plot.
Which, unfortunately, we will not be talking about.
Spoilers and all, you know? Instead I thought we would talk about epic and far-reaching devastation with damage that can still be seen years later. No, I’m not talking about anything to do with hurricanes, past or present. I talking about the actual event that inspired us to connect all the other dots and create the plot: the Tunguska event.
Most of you already know what this is, but for those that don’t – The Tunguska Event was a mysterious explosion that occurred in the summer of 1908, in a very remote part of Russia. Measured at between 5 and 30 megatons, it was the most powerful non-nuclear explosion in recorded history. Though modern science has determined that this massive detonation was almost certainly from a meteoroid or comet that exploded just above the surface of the earth, speculation was rampant for years about possible causes. About a 1,000 papers ranging from asteroids and aliens to weapons tests and antimatter we’re published over the last hundred years, mostly in Russia.
My favorite? Tesla did it.
Back when the Discovery and History channels showed more than ice-road-junk-child-car-stars reality TV shows, this anomaly was in the regular paranormal rotation along with the pyramids and Hitler. These days, it is filed in the solved folder and talked about a little less often, and that’s a shame. Any light show that can be seen and felt from thousands of miles away deserves to be talked about now and again, if only to scare the bejesus out of us.
It wasn’t just the power that captured the world’s attention though. For a very long time, there was literally nothing known about it. The first expedition – a trek by Russian mineralogist Leonid Kulik, from the Soviet Academy of Sciences didn’t reach the site until 1927, almost two full decades after the strike, in 1927 on a quest for meteoric iron. This wasn’t entirely Kuliks fault for being slow on the draw – he wanted to go in 1921, but bureaucracy is never the fastest system, and a few little things like WWI, the Russian Revolution, and the Russian Civil War got in the way.
What the expedition found when it got there was superstitious natives, and a scorched dead zone more than 8km across, full of dead trees devoid of branches, as pictured above. Visits were fruitless, and inconclusive; over the next decade three more expeditions were sent to the site – each returned empty-handed. Given how little we knew about such a monstrously large and frightening event, is it any wonder that the whole thing took on a life of its own? In the 1930s, a cometary explanation was first put forth, though it did not gain much acceptance until the 1960s.
Me, I’m still putting my money on Tesla, and not just because that’s what the story says. What do you think – meteor or mad scientist?