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When Comets Attack

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the fast-rocks-slow-children dept.

Space 79

Red Flayer writes "Popular Mechanics is running a story that describes one of the more interesting explanations for the Tunguska explosion of 1908: 'Now, a controversial new scientific study suggests that a chunk of a comet caused the 5-10 megaton fireball, bouncing off the atmosphere and back into orbit around the sun. The scientists have even identified a candidate Tunguska object — now more than 100 million miles away — that will pass close to Earth again in 2045.' Note that Popular Mechanics' definition of 'close to' is somewhat different than most people's — the comet will be 3.8 million miles away at its closest. At any rate, the key to this theory is that hydrogen and oxygen in the ice shard exploded upon entering the atmosphere, resulting in the difficult-to-explain blast pattern (previous theories contend that the object must have 'skipped' on the atmosphere and then re-entered at the exact same spot). This would also, sadly, dash the theory that Nikola Tesla was responsible."

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This is new and controversial? (1)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 5 years ago | (#27883891)

I thought I heard this years ago.

Re:This is new and controversial? (5, Funny)

e9th (652576) | more than 5 years ago | (#27884087)

Maybe you did. Were you in Siberia in 1908?

Re:This is new and controversial? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27884207)

Linux is for fucking faggots who suck nigger dicks.

Re:This is new and controversial? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27885823)

I find your views interesting and wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:This is new and controversial? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27886009)

ahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!! I use Debian and find this hilarious

Re:This is new and controversial? (1)

EdZ (755139) | more than 5 years ago | (#27884489)

You heard that it may have been a comet. What is new here is the theory of it's origin (cast off from a gas giant moon's crust) and composition (containing bubbles of hydrogen and oxygen).

I'm sorry comet sightings in 1908?!?!? (1)

spineboy (22918) | more than 5 years ago | (#27888077)

I would think that if a comet was close enough to earth to bounce off it, that it would have been quite large to the eye, and LOTS of people would have seen it. A simple google query reveal no mass sightings of a comet, which are typically visible for weeks at a time.

A large flash was seen, but no precedent reports of any significant comets.

OK I guess it could be a really, really tiny comet.

Re:I'm sorry comet sightings in 1908?!?!? (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 5 years ago | (#27890897)

That would be true if the comet was visible in the night sky, but if it was only visible in the day sky it wouldn't be so noticeable. if the weather was cloudy it might even be unobservable.

Re:I'm sorry comet sightings in 1908?!?!? (1)

EdZ (755139) | more than 5 years ago | (#27892107)

Really tiny, high velocity, and pretty much tailless (as is likely if it was a shard of icy crust rather than accreted from stellar dust).

Re:This is new and controversial? (1)

blantonl (784786) | more than 5 years ago | (#27884627)

the story or the explosion? Please clarify.

IOW (5, Funny)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 5 years ago | (#27883923)

The sun's trying to start a snowball fight.

Re:IOW (0, Redundant)

dimeglio (456244) | more than 5 years ago | (#27884969)

Maybe some cosmic being was skipping rocks. "Bet I can hit that blue one and make it skip around that star."

Re:IOW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27886139)

It should pick on someone it's own size!

Tesla did it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27883955)

Tesla, like God, did it. What is it you say? If you don't know there is no way you'll listen even if I tell you the "good news." Obviously, your mind is made up. Tesla did it. I know it and that's good enough for me (and you to if ya know what's good for ya).

Fools! (5, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#27883961)

It was the great Nikola Tesla who summoned the comet in the first place!

Re:Fools! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27884097)

In Soviet Russia, Tesla summons you!

 
 
 
 
 
 

Please don't kill me.

Re:Fools! (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27884205)

Tesla was a brilliant man. If he wanted to summon a comet, he would find a way. If he wanted to destroy a remote area of Siberia without a comet, he would find a way. The man was without limits in thought and imagination, only resources.

Re:Fools! (4, Funny)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#27884351)

Nikola Tesla destroyed the periodic table, because he only recognized the element of surprise.
(with apologies to Chuck Norris)

Re:Fools! (5, Funny)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 5 years ago | (#27884485)

In fact, Nikola Tesla's chief weapon was surprise. And fear.

His two weapons were fear and surprise. And ruthless efficiency.

His three weapons were fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency. And an almost fanatical devotion to alternating power.

I'll come in again...

Re:Fools! (1)

TimSSG (1068536) | more than 5 years ago | (#27888093)

So, he was a fanatic who did not support Direct Power for anyone. That is not really common in that century or this century. Tim S.

Re:Fools! (1)

dakohli (1442929) | more than 5 years ago | (#27894127)

what about the comfy chair?

Re:Fools! (1)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | more than 5 years ago | (#27884569)

Tesla was a brilliant man. If he wanted to summon a comet, he would find a way. If he wanted to destroy a remote area of Siberia without a comet, he would find a way.

If he wanted to transmit electricity wirelessly he'd... Um, uh, never mind.

Re:Fools! (1)

dhfx (988710) | more than 5 years ago | (#27884695)

not Tesla - more like Velikovsky.

incredible artist rendition (5, Interesting)

ChrisCampbell47 (181542) | more than 5 years ago | (#27883969)

This artist's rendition of the explosion [planetary.org] graced the back cover of this month's The Planetary Report (from The Planetary Society [planetary.org] ). It illustrates how the bolide likely blew up above the ground and hence produced no crater. The artist is Don Davis.

Re:incredible artist rendition (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27884113)

General Hammond painted that?

Re:incredible artist rendition (1, Funny)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 5 years ago | (#27884255)

And the artist's rendition of the sound of the explosion:

K-A-B-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-M!!!11!!
garblegarblegarblegarblegarblegarble

WTF???? (0, Redundant)

rts008 (812749) | more than 5 years ago | (#27884369)

Where is the Earth shattering KaBoom????

Re:incredible artist rendition (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 5 years ago | (#27890945)

no 10-15 Megatons is definitely a KER-FUCKIN-BOOM

Re:incredible artist rendition (4, Informative)

erpbridge (64037) | more than 5 years ago | (#27884349)

Note... That's Don Davis, not to be confused with Don Davis [wikipedia.org] , aka General Hammond from SG1.

Although, I do believe that somewhere in the SG1 mythos it was suggested that Tunguska was either a failed Asgard or Goa'uld experiment, or that it was a weapons blast from orbit by a Ha'tak mothership.

Not that that has anything to do with this article or anything....

Re:incredible artist rendition (1)

Kozz (7764) | more than 5 years ago | (#27884799)

...I do believe that somewhere in the SG1 mythos ... Not that that has anything to do with this article or anything....

And yet you've garnered a +1 Interesting. I await the +1 Informative.

Rejoice in your geekiness, moderators!

Re:incredible artist rendition (2, Funny)

Kenz0r (900338) | more than 5 years ago | (#27887573)

You've shown that there are only two degrees of separation between Don Davis and Don Davis.

Now how many degrees is Don Davis from Kevin Bacon?

Re:incredible artist rendition (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27887677)

Two [oracleofbacon.org] .

According to that site, Forest Whitaker is a better Bacon than Kevin, so the late Mr. Davis is probably quite well linked to most actors.

Re:incredible artist rendition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27899231)

Man, that's a great site. I'm only 2 away from Kevin Bacon myself. I'll tell my mom that since it's Mothers Day and she'll be happy.

Re:incredible artist rendition (1)

Fumus (1258966) | more than 5 years ago | (#27886535)

Wouldn't the logical trajectory be more like \/ ?
It would take considerably more energy to completely stop the fall and accelerate the rock back to escape velocity, than it would to simply change the trajectory.

Re:incredible artist rendition (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27891999)

Not very realistic. In terms of physics especially those non-continuous mushroom umbrellas, and graphically the trees and a bit of the lighting.
This is how it's done right: http://www.dusso.com/ [dusso.com] (Look at the 3 left links in the menu on the top.)

I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27884159)

Welcome our new comet overlords

Could have been a huge deal. (4, Interesting)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 5 years ago | (#27884221)

I think this is one of the great what-ifs of recent history... what if this event took place in a populated area, rather than in the Siberian woodlands? We still don't know what happened today, so how would people have dealt cognitively with it back in 1908 if thousands or even millions had died?

I find it intriguing to consider.

Re:Could have been a huge deal. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27884267)

The same way that they did when various plagues (Spanish Flu 1918, Black Death 1350) , enemy attacks (WW2 on all sides, Coventry, Dresden, Berlin, London, Tokyo & Hiroshima ).

People cope with it in various ways. Mass death is nothing new, unfortunately.

Re:Could have been a huge deal. (4, Insightful)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 5 years ago | (#27884435)

The main distinction of this event would have been the sudden impact of it... total destruction in the blink of an eye; whichis distinct from the slow "creeping death" of a plague. Unlike war, this would obviously seem to not be the work of human foes... what would the cause be ascribed to? God? Aliens? Would people be okay with the cause being "improbable interstellar event"?

I just think it could have greatly impacted the values of the 20th century... would science be more important? Would people be even more superstitious? There are lots of possibilities.

Re:Could have been a huge deal. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#27884519)

> what would the cause be ascribed to? God? Aliens?

Meteors. It happened in 1908, not 1408.

Re:Could have been a huge deal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27888389)

Either way, the answer is obviously God. If it happened TODAY, 60% of the USA would attribute it to God.

Re:Could have been a huge deal. (4, Interesting)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 5 years ago | (#27884539)

What would the Japanese have thought of Hiroshima if the US hadn't told them what it was ? This was 1908 not 1608. They did have some idea, they even went looking for the iron from the meteorite.

They knew what it was... (2, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27885327)

The Japanese were well aware of what had happened to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They had people working on an atomic bomb as well but they were barely scratching the surface of what needed to be done as they just did not have the industrial capacity.

Why so feeble? (1)

fnj (64210) | more than 5 years ago | (#27887673)

We constantly hear this. The [Japanese, Germans] did not have the industrial capacity to [develop a nuclear bomb, train pilots, build warships]. Well, why not? The U.S. developed the nuclear bomb with talent plus a tiny fraction of its industrial capacity. Japan and Germany each had more than half the U.S. population. Why were they so feeble?

And don't give me a bunch of crap about free enterprise. Keep it real.

Re:Why so feeble? (2, Informative)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 5 years ago | (#27888225)

I never heard anything about the Germans not having the resources to build an a-bomb, but the Japanese had been prosecuting a war for some years before the americans intervened. This left them at a disadvantage.

From wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :

"Over the course of the Pacific War, the economies of Japan and its occupied territories all suffered severely. Inflation was rampant; prices in Japan in 1944 were 3.25 times higher than in 1936.[citation needed] Japanese heavy industry, forced to devote nearly all its production to meeting military needs, was unable to meet the commercial requirements of Japan (which had previously relied on trade with Western countries for their manufactured goods). Local industries were unable to produce at high enough levels to avoid severe shortfalls. Furthermore, maritime trade, upon which the Empire depended greatly, was sharply curtailed by damage to the Japanese merchant fleet over the course of the war. From a fleet of 6,000,000 tonnes of shipping in 1941, Japan was reduced to one of 2,000,000 tonnes by 1944.[citation needed]

By the end of the war, what remained of the Japanese Empire was wracked by shortages, inflation, and currency devaluation. Transport was nearly impossible, and industrial production in Japan's shattered cities ground to a halt. The destruction wrought by the war eventually brought the Japanese economy to a virtual standstill."

Of course, every sentence says "citation needed" after it, its up to you to either accept it at face value or google around and verify it, but that seems like a plausible explanation.

It seems wierd that money would really be a bar to making a nuke - i would have thought that the quantum physicists would be a more crucial resource than buildings and materials.

Re:Why so feeble? (1)

evilbessie (873633) | more than 5 years ago | (#27888965)

You need to enrich your material from which to make your bomb. That costs money and resources, if you have enough raw material at a good enough purity making a bomb (not an efficient one) is actually not that hard. But getting weapons grade material is not easy.

Re:Why so feeble? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27892885)

"There are indications that Japan had a more sizable program than is commonly understood, and that there was close cooperation among the Axis powers, including a secretive exchange of war materiel. The German submarine U-234, which surrendered to US forces in May 1945, was found to be carrying 560 kilograms of Uranium oxide destined for Japan's own atomic program. The oxide contained about 3.5 kilograms of the isotope U-235, which would have been about a fifth of the total U-235 needed to make one bomb. After Japan surrendered on 15 August 1945, the occupying US Army found five Japanese cyclotrons, which could be used to separate fissionable material from ordinary uranium. The Americans smashed the cyclotrons and dumped them into Tokyo Harbor."

http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/japan/nuke/

Re:Why so feeble? (2, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27891665)

Of course, every sentence says "citation needed" after it

Actually, its pretty accurate. Japan was hurting economically before the war even began. The USA stopped selling Japan raw materials, like steel and oil were cut off, and in response the Japanese extended the imperial drive into the resource rich pacific.

But even then you have to keep in mind that the industrial japan of world war II was nowhere near the industrial japan of today. The GDP of Japan was a fraction of that of the USA and to some extent the Japanese Navy headed into 1941 was built up over the years by accumulating a bunch of different classes of warships. On the other hand the USA of then was not the USA of today. Back in those days the USA was a protectionist industrial powerhouse, rather than a free trading banking state.

A great web site maps out the economic disparity between the two:

http://www.combinedfleet.com/economic.htm [combinedfleet.com]

Some things are just amazing... like, just look at how many Essex class aircraft carriers, aircraft, and battleships the USA built. Everyone raves about the Japanese 70,000 ton Yamato, but there are some Navy fans out there that say the USS Iowa class could probably come out ahead in that fight, there were four of those versus two Yamatos.. and, if it had been a battleship war, and the Iowa couldn't do it, then the Montana would.

But as it was it was a carrier war. We build 25 Essex Class carriers, the Japanese a fraction of that. We build more than 300,000 aircraft, the Japanese a fraction of that. We have radar. The Japanese don't. We have self sealing fuel tanks. The Japanese don't.

The Japanese had no shot to win that war.

Re:Could have been a huge deal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27884559)

Hiroshima. A city gone in a flash. No real warning.

Re:Could have been a huge deal. (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 5 years ago | (#27891033)

Hiroshima. A city gone in a flash. No real warning.

Hiroshima had nearly daily bombing warnings

Re:Could have been a huge deal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27899375)

But those were conventional bombs. There's a slight difference between the a-bomb and what was being used. Such as, the "a" not to mention the dash. Those two combined with "bomb" really makes a difference.

Re:Could have been a huge deal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27884931)

I think the main distinction would be that in the past, science was stifled and The Church dictated how to interpret events. Not to mention that in 1908 there were means of documenting things visually which didn't exist during the plague. Investigation would have eventually come to a more scientific conclusion.

Re:Could have been a huge deal. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27885065)

We might have had a space program sooner. Development of nuclear bombs might have been accelerated by a decade or so. Perhaps somebody might have tried to fly an orion pulse rocket in the 1950s. Sounds like a great Heinlein revival story. I had better call John Varley...

Re:Could have been a huge deal. (1)

toddestan (632714) | more than 5 years ago | (#27893917)

It's 1908, not 1108. Two years earlier an earthquake demolished San Francisco and people weren't blaming aliens for that, so why would this be any different?

Re:Could have been a huge deal. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27884269)

What if Siberia were a great metropolis before this? Don't believe the lies!

Re:Could have been a huge deal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27887115)

It was

Re:Could have been a huge deal. (1)

adavies42 (746183) | more than 5 years ago | (#27885283)

if it had been a couple hours off, it could've taken out lenin.

Re:Could have been a huge deal. (1)

kmike (31752) | more than 5 years ago | (#27885687)

Maybe you mean Russian Tzar?
You see, Lenin came to power only in late 1917...

Re:Could have been a huge deal. (2, Funny)

adavies42 (746183) | more than 5 years ago | (#27885701)

at which point he'd been hanging around various parts of western russia and eastern europe for nearly forty years....

Re:Could have been a huge deal. (2, Informative)

kmike (31752) | more than 5 years ago | (#27885881)

Alas - Lenin was in Geneva in 1908. Hardly Western Russia, or even Eastern Europe.

BTW, I think the GP means that if the explosion was off a few hours, it would have happened almost exactly over St. Petersburg - a capital of Russia back then.

Re:Could have been a huge deal. (5, Insightful)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 5 years ago | (#27885659)

Had it hit a heavily populated area we would have a lot more data than a bunch of trees in the middle of nowhere and the reports from peasants. It was over a decade before a scientist went out there- Russian mineralogist Leonid Kulik in 1921 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunguska_event [wikipedia.org] . I would say there is a strong chance we would know what the thing actually was, which would allow for a calmer reaction than uneducated peasants fearing the apocalypse.

Now, if it hit a major city during the cold war, it may have triggered a nuclear holocaust...

Re:Could have been a huge deal. (1)

SockPuppet_9_5 (645235) | more than 5 years ago | (#27888945)

No, it would have been seen as the Angry Fist of God.

Re:Could have been a huge deal. (1)

Peji (1430345) | more than 5 years ago | (#27893849)

we would attack Iraq.

They are all wrong. (-1)

Ira Sponsible (713467) | more than 5 years ago | (#27884631)

As I already explained in my journal: 16. The Tungusta blast of 1908 happened when a Russian dared Chuck Norris to light one of his farts. No further research is required on this subject.

Re:They are all wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27884745)

How can I lower the score on this comment?

Re:They are all wrong. (1)

theillien (984847) | more than 5 years ago | (#27884937)

For starters, stop posting as AC and get yourself some mod points.

Wait a minute... (3, Interesting)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27885157)

all these comet theories are great, but how to they explain the extra Carbon 14 found in tree rings in that area, for that year? (The trees that hadn't been blown down, of course.)

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica

Tesla did it.. (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27885337)

Obviously, this proves that Tesla did it. He had a number of theories about radiocarbon14 waves, you know. That big antenna he was working on, probably could have altered the carbon.

Re:Wait a minute... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27890983)

Carl Sagan was one of the early proponents of the comet theory, which he stated in his TV series "Cosmos" that aired in the 1970's. This is hardly new.

To AC (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27897953)

It still doesn't account for the Carbon 14, which is real, and which indicates radiation that a comet strike would not explain. The theory advanced by the Britannica (it was an older set) was that a chunk of antimatter about the size of a baseball had hit the atmosphere at very high speed. That could account for both the explosion and the radiation.

There's nothing mysterious about the impact shape (5, Interesting)

kmike (31752) | more than 5 years ago | (#27885817)

It was shown back in 1966 that the butterfly shape of the fallen trees may be caused by the several explosions combined with the ballistic wave.

The Russian researchers built a model of the site (1:10000), with explosion modeled by an explosive cord with an explosive charge at the end. The forest model was built from the tiny flexible wires with plastic crowns.

They have shown that placing the cord at some inclination angle (close to 30 degrees) the impact shape was clearly resembling the butterfly shape of Tunguska event.

The abstract (in Russian) is here:
http://tunguska.tsc.ru/ru/science/conf/1966/zotkin/ [tunguska.tsc.ru]

The host planet - electrolysis (2, Interesting)

IntentionalStance (1197099) | more than 5 years ago | (#27886089)

The FA talks about the comet having a 'host planet' around which it orbited long enough for the 'host planet's' magnetic field to electrolyse the water in the comet into hydrogen and oxygen. It was the ignition of the hydrogen that is claimed to have causes the explosion. Possible of course but it seems a bit of a stretch to me. Occam's razor and all.

Hydrogen gas sillyness (1)

Latent Heat (558884) | more than 5 years ago | (#27887637)

Where in Russia do they come up with all of these people with such theories?

Suppose the impactor is a comet. Approaching any collision with the Earth, it will have a velocity of about the Earth's escape velocity or even exceeding that.

OK, using liquid H2 and LOX, why don't we build single stage rockets that are able to reach Earth escape velocity? Because orbital velocity let alone escape velocity gives an object a kinetic energy that is large compared to the chemical energy in the hydrogen-oxygen bond. That means a rocket using H2 and LOX as propellant requires most of its mass as fuel, and it needs to impart the energy from that fuel it is rapidly discarding by burning and ejecting it on the tiny remaining mass fraction that is the space craft.

That means that the kinetic (.5 m v^2) energy of the impactor will far exceed any combustion energy of some small mass fraction of hydrogen and oxygen bubbles embedded in an icy substrate.

Which means that any combusting hydrogen will be hardly noticed in the much larger explosion from the kinetic impact of whatever (asteroid, comet) it was.

By the way, it is generally understood that most meteors are cometary and most meteorites are asteroidal. Even though comets put on a big gassy show, the Earth encounters vastly more asteroidal objects big enough to make it to ground level than comets (or explode over Tunguska). On the other hand, the few comets (compared to asteroids) that encounter the Earth are like hairy dogs that shed all over wherever they have gone (their orbital ellipses), and their detritus, the cometary dust grains, form the common meteors seen at night.

Sorry Everyone (2, Funny)

dayton967 (647640) | more than 5 years ago | (#27887581)

It was me, that day I had 2 bean burritos, and happened to be in the area when I had a major attack of gas. And the extinction of the dinosaurs that was me again. I really need to stop it with the bean burritos but they are just so damn good.

Re:Sorry Everyone (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27888535)

That still doesn't explain the semen bubbles that erupt from your anus every time you fart.

Sandia Labs supercomputer simulations (1)

Presence1 (524732) | more than 5 years ago | (#27888019)

Sandia Labs (the same group that does nuclear simulations) did work on this several years ago. They produced some excellent simulations of asteroid explosions, and their effects in the admosphere and on the ground.

A summary with some great videos is posted here:
http://www.sandia.gov/news/resources/releases/2007/asteroid.html [sandia.gov]

Take two of Amateur deduction hour (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27892549)

Does anyone recall the the interviews done of the people in the area after the blast.

There was a reporter/documentarian that went over there and talked to the locals.

They talked about a metallic cavern 150 miles away from tunguska that was persistently radioactive.

The older guys talked about it shooting plasma balls into the sky after they noticed it charging up for a month. And they noticed this because it would kill off more stuff around it.

Mainly, it looked like a defense grid that had the nasty side effect of irradiating everything within 20-80 meters. All the wildlife and grass around it died- and the people apparently did the first couple times as well.

I can't remember what reporter documented this though. Do any of you older guys recall seeing this maybe 15 years ago? It was an ancient defense grid that was basically a radioactive capacitor(magma sourced?) that vaporized incoming asteroids. It's ok if you don't. Just thought I'd throw that out there, since considering other physical impossibilities apparently is.

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