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Tunguska Blast Was a Small Asteroid

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the fire-came-by dept.

Supercomputing 277

malachiorion writes "The Tunguska event, an explosion on June 30, 1908, cleared an 800-sq.-mi. swath of Siberian forest. Was it a UFO crash? An alien weapons test? Now, Sandia National Laboratories has released its own explanation for the Tunguska event. Using supercomputers to create a 3D simulation of the explosion, the Department of Energy-funded nuke lab has determined that Tunguska was, indeed, the explosion of a relatively small asteroid. The simulation videos are well worth checking out — they show a fireball slamming into the earth from the asteroid's air burst. The researchers caution that we should be keeping watch for many more small, potentially earth-impacting asteroids than we are currently tracking."

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Doh! (0, Redundant)

Threni (635302) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749200)

What else would it have been?

Re:Doh! (5, Funny)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749230)

Aliens!

In Soviet Russia, the forest flattens the asteroids!

I welcome our new asteroid overlords.

Imagine a beowulf cluster of those!

  1. Flatten forest
  2. ???
  3. Profit!

Re:Doh! (2, Funny)

PixieDust (971386) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749346)

You forgot the most important one!!!

"The researchers caution that we should be keeping watch for many more small, potentially earth-impacting asteroids than we are currently tracking."

Nothing to see here! Move along!!

Re:Doh! (3, Funny)

shawn443 (882648) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749410)

42, It was a giant cum shot from god. Bye karma. I wish I could think of shit insightful to say.

Re:Doh! (2, Funny)

Whiteox (919863) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750148)

Asteroid or Hammeroid?

Re:Doh! (2, Interesting)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749352)

1) A small black hole
2) A tiny bit of antimatter

Re:Doh! (1, Redundant)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749390)

a farting contest gone wrong.. terribly wrong...

Re:Doh! (4, Funny)

gbobeck (926553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749552)

a farting contest gone wrong.. terribly wrong...

Yeah, Chuck Norris showed up...

Re:Doh! (0, Offtopic)

supermeerkat (1205286) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749812)

The incident was recorded in 1919 in the book "10 Days that Shook the World" by the American Journalist John Reed. check it out [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Doh! (-1, Redundant)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749422)

A comet

Re:Doh! (4, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749598)

"What else would it have been?"

The theory I've heard a few times was that it was anti-matter. Doctor Raymond Stanz, however, postulated that it may have been the result of a dimensional crossover. This theory has not been widely accepted, though, because no P.K. readings have been captured to support this claim.

Re:Doh! (3, Funny)

Spokehedz (599285) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750154)

This is what happens when you cross the streams. DON'T CROSS THE STREAMS!

Bad Summary (3, Insightful)

anilg (961244) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750100)

Was it a UFO crash? An alien weapons test?

Summaries on /. have started to deteriorate in quality. Was there any need for the above? Isnt it just pandering to the WOOWOOists? Why the need to add a tinge pseudo-science to science?

You wont add "Is it the by homeopathy? Ayurveda perhaps" to an article on a new medicine/cure..

Editors/Firehosers note.

/rant

The Gist (4, Informative)

DrLudicrous (607375) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749208)

It seems that while the asteroid itself did not cause as much damage as previously believed (3-5 megatons vs 10-20), the asteroid was most likely much smaller than had been estimated. Too bad the article doesn't give some numbers about the size. Pretty scary thinking about one of these things hitting on top of or near a major population center.

Re:The Gist (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21749280)

Pretty scary thinking about one of these things hitting on top of or near a major population center.
Yes, every asteroid on television will undoubtedly hit over New York or Los Angeles. There must be some exceptionally high gravitational field at those locations.

Perhaps these dramatic presentations aren't really that helpful. It could be that volcanoes won't erupt under Los Angeles, ice hurricanes won't hit New York, and 10.0 earthquakes won't toss Los Angeles into the Pacific Ocean (and why isn't Chicago or London ever destroyed?). It might be helpful for you to calculate the area that the Tunguska Blast caused devastation, divide by the surface area of the earth, multiply it by the surface area of our major population centers, and then multiply it by the probability of this type of event occurring in the next 50 years. But this is boring and lacks the 'scary thinking' and drama, right?

Re:The Gist (4, Funny)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749468)

Yes, every asteroid on television will undoubtedly hit over New York or Los Angeles. There must be some exceptionally high gravitational field at those locations.

I'm not sure about that, most of the asteroid I had seen on television are hitting Kansas, particularly this small village...

Re:The Gist (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750064)

London - http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0790665/ [imdb.com]

Most hysterically, the government spent two weeks saying "No the movie is alarmist, this is all bollocks, etc". After that they turned around and said "Hey we are not committed to building a new Thames barrier" (they still have not got the brain to make it electricity generating, but brain and UK gov do not mix well).

Re:The Gist (2, Funny)

John Straffin (902430) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750132)

Doesn't London get destroyed by dragons [imdb.com] ?

Re:The Gist (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749342)

I'm speculating here, but I think density would be as important as mass for a smaller asteroid (I mean being solid lumps of hardy material, not the usual shale mix of rock and ice that might seperate out), provided it can last long enough to generate that single column of superheated plasma behind it. Something that might take out a city block on its own could wipe a city off the map if you added in the several mile long column of superheated gas that would impact shortly after, even if the asteroid itself did not make it to the surface, nothing would stop that gas.

I saw a horizon documentary about this last year, with simulations. I don't know if its the same research, (the sites slashdotted for me). It was fascinating all the same.

Re:The Gist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21749808)

Yes, but maybe it's because given an asteroid of a fixed size, mass is a function of its density and density is a function of its mass.

Re:The Gist (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749868)

Yes, but maybe it's because given an asteroid of a fixed size, mass is a function of its density and density is a function of its mass.

No.

It appears that most asteroids are conglomerates of shale, so they wouldn't be that dense, as in not that densely packed. That's why the idea of blasting them with nukes is a bad idea, they just seperate and reform later.

A closely packed cloud of shale hitting the atmosphere would be devastating, but not so much as a single cohesive mass. I don't know much about asteroid impact, asteroid motion in a vaccuum is more my thing, but I'm not so sure that a cloud of shale would generate the same kind of plasma piller that a single object would. Simulating that is outside of my current abilities, I haven't got the hydrodynamics for it.

It's all relative mind, any large mass hitting the atmosphere would be pretty harsh on the surface of the earth.

Re:The Gist (0, Troll)

Kerstyun (832278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749684)

Pretty scary thinking about one of these things hitting on top of or near a major population center.
Unless its Terrhan or Mecca.

More scary, opening new doors for the military (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749802)

because now with better computer simulations they can loft nice little toys into orbit that contain no nuclear matter, thereby not alerting any enviromentalist or anti-nukes, and have a very nice and clean weapon system.

I expect a lot more studies on the compositions of asteroids to determine just "which" kind is such a threat to us, which of course can lead to making these threats. All in the name of science.

I've often wondered (5, Interesting)

Cally (10873) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749216)

...how the populations (including the military) in some of the more... nervous areas of the globe would react to a suddden blinding light in the sky followed by an enormous blast wave.

Re:I've often wondered (5, Funny)

teebob21 (947095) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749312)

I've often wondered...how the populations (including the military) in some of the more... nervous areas of the globe would react to a suddden blinding light in the sky followed by an enormous blast wave.

Badly.

Re:I've often wondered (1)

Faylone (880739) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749632)

haha only serious. There have already been meteorite impacts during the gulf war, that if they'd happened in the middle east, we'd probably be in the middle of a nuclear winter by now.

Re:I've often wondered (2, Insightful)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749360)

I've often wondered how the populations (including the military) in some of the more... nervous areas of the globe would react to a suddden blinding light in the sky followed by an enormous blast wave.

Well the military wouldn't know who to attack, but you can be sure as hell someone would say "God did this because we made him angry by -insert reason here-"

Re:I've often wondered (2, Funny)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749546)

Well the military wouldn't know who to attack, but you can be sure as hell someone would say "God did this because we made him angry

The answer's obvious then.

Nuke God.

You've got to admit, it'd solve a hell of a lot of problems.

Re:I've often wondered (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21749902)

Sounds like a good idea, but how do you get the nuke to the target? I doubt you can reach God with an ICBM.

Re:I've often wondered (3, Funny)

AstronomicUID (929210) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750070)

From orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

Re:I've often wondered (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749438)

For maximum effect, it should be a country with nuclear weapon technology (and means to deliver it) but not advanced enough to be able to discern (rapidly) between a nuclear blast (fission or fusion) and the impact of an asteroid. Also, possibly a country where it's important to keep appearances - leaders must be seen to be in charge, so they would react quicker than a thorough investigation would require. I can't think of many like that. North Korea maybe?

However, the thought is indeed somewhat unsettling.

Re:I've often wondered (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21749656)

"Also, possibly a country where it's important to keep appearances - leaders must be seen to be in charge, so they would react quicker than a thorough investigation would require. I can't think of many like that. North Korea maybe?"

Strikes me that America fits the bill admirably. Bush would order an attack on Iran faster than you could blink if this happened in Wyoming....

Re:I've often wondered (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21750078)

First they would blame it on faceless terrorists. Flag sales skyrocket.
Then they would blame Iran, France, (add your country here) .Weapons sales peak.
Then they would say it was an act of God. Donations to churches go up.

Then some poor scientist would say it might have been an asteroid. Of course He would be sent to guantanamo for being satanist/terrorist/anti-american.

New laws agains asteroids hitting earth would be made and life would go on.

Hmm.. (1)

witekr (971989) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749226)

That last sentence made me wonder.. Would there be any chance of a small asteroid (one that could cause some problems) currently heading for earth not be detected yet by scientists?

Re:Hmm.. (5, Informative)

FredDC (1048502) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749254)

This one [newscientist.com] they didn't notice until after it nearly missed earth.

So to answer your question: Yes, it's very possible!

Re:Hmm.. (1)

FredDC (1048502) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749304)

This one they didn't notice until after it nearly missed earth.
Oops, that sentence is all wrong... I shouldn't post until I've completely woken up...

Re:Hmm.. (2, Informative)

teebob21 (947095) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749330)

Free American English Lesson: Adverbs modify verbs.
Verb in the Subject Sentence: Missed (past tense)
Context: This asteroid was very near to Earth when it missed us.
Adjective: Near (adverb form: nearly)
Thus: The asteroid nearly missed Earth.

Your sentence gets a thumbs up by me!
...Grammar Nazis, please keep walking. :)

Re:Hmm.. (3, Informative)

iocat (572367) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749538)

Except... if it had nearly missed earth, that would mean that it hit earth, which it didn't.

It nearly HIT earth. The problem with the sentence is the verb, not the construction.

Re:Hmm.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21749710)

I agree, but if you read the sentence again after considering the phrase "near miss", it almost makes sense.

Re:Hmm.. (1)

kongit (758125) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749730)

Nearly missing could also describe the amount by which the asteroid missed. Of course the phrase is a bad one and should be written closely missing or the like. The adverb describing missing was just a bad choice of words.

Re:Hmm.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21749658)

Its ok. We knew what you meant: a "near-miss" (a type of miss, in contrast to a "complete miss") not "nearly missed" (which would actually be a hit).

Re:Hmm.. (4, Insightful)

teebob21 (947095) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749262)

Would there be any chance of a small asteroid (one that could cause some problems) currently heading for earth not be detected yet by scientists?
Yes. There is a very real chance that a chunk of rock the size of a basketball court could come at us tomorrow. A very very small, but very real chance. Asteroids that come from the sunward side of Earth's orbit are harder to detect because they are obscured by the Sun. One could come from that direction and astronomers may never see it. Most of the meteors that streak across the night sky are space stones no bigger than your hand, and usually about the size of a pea or smaller. Larger ones come down, but very infrequently. It is impossible for astronomers to chart, track or project the trajectories of the billions of space rocks left over from the formation of the Solar System.

Imagine a world where a small asteroid fragment or comet had struck Russia 60 years after Tunguska - during the depths of the Cold War. It would be a very different world today indeed.

Re:Hmm.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21749302)

MOD UP INFORMATIVE/INSIGHTFUL

Re:Hmm.. (0, Flamebait)

setagllib (753300) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749510)

Imagine a world where a small asteroid fragment or comet strikes Microsoft HQ tomorrow afternoon. Maybe if we all imagine hard enough it'll happen.

Re:Hmm.. (2, Funny)

weicco (645927) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749590)

It'll just probably break some windows and throw some chairs around.

Oh come off it! (4, Funny)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749242)

Everybody knows it was Santa crash landing

Re:Oh come off it! (1)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749558)

Santa crashing in June? No wonder he's so fat, if he goes on six month long eggnog benders...

Re:Oh come off it! (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749574)

Well, no offence, but Santa's sleigh is a pretty high tech piece of equipment; do you really think he heads off to deliver presents to all the children in the world in one night without testing throughout the year? Yep, didn't think so...

Re:Oh come off it! (1)

aevan (903814) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749762)

Hasn't anyone ever considered Christmas is a conspiracy? Which is more believable, Santa travels to every house in one day lugging every present...or Santa has cloaking technology of some sort, and spends the entire year hiding presents that are timered to reveal Xmas morning? Would explain why he didn't get to you that year you moved, or why didn't get the message you changed your mind of what you wanted in November. Explains why so hard to spot him too, since everyone looks on the wrong day.

Option two is he's moonlighting for Homeland Security, collecting his naughty/nice data.

Re:Oh come off it! (1)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749764)

Well, no offence, but Santa's sleigh is a pretty high tech piece of equipment

It can't be that high tech, considering how long he's been in business for. And that in itself raises a few questions that can't be answered by technology (assuming it's the same person; and if not, who the hell is this modern imposter?). [wikipedia.org]

deliver presents to all the children in the world

I think you'll find that claim is vastly exaggerated. [adherents.com]

Stop trying to defend this morbidly obese, drunken, discriminating, self-aggrandising home invader.

Re:Oh come off it! (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749984)

Damn you, you evil Fithp [wikipedia.org] bomber crews, for naming your payload Santa!

"exploding" (1)

CriX (628429) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749260)

Those videos were really informative to me. I had always heard and read reports about how an "exploding" comet or asteroid had caused the devastation. But why and how would these things explode?! Well, they don't. But the all the momentum they transfer to the air creates a very devastating shock wave.

Re:"exploding" (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749292)

But the all the momentum they transfer to the air creates a very devastating shock wave.

The momentum was only part of the blast. The sudden heating from the release of lots of kinetic energy created an expanding blast fireball not unlike a nuke event. This was not just a sonic boom. This was a superheated fireball explosively expanding with a momentum toward the ground.

Re:"exploding" (1)

rasputin465 (1032646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749692)

This was not just a sonic boom. This was a superheated fireball explosively expanding with a momentum toward the ground.

So it was a sonic BADDA boom!

Re:"exploding" (2, Informative)

teebob21 (947095) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749298)

I'll grant you that they do not explode in the traditional TNT/explosives sense of the word. However, falling space debris can indeed "explode" when entering the atmosphere. As they push deeper and deeper and the air gets thicker, it presents more and more resistance on the falling object. Eventually, the wall of air becomes so dense that the action-reaction forces break the falling object up. Violently. Combine that with the fact that the asteroid/comet/meteor and surrounding air has been heated significantly due to friction, and you get a fireball and a tremendous shock wave in the air.

To test this premise, I recommend throwing an egg or three at the front door of your local police station, as hard as you can. You will see that (among other things) the egg does indeed explode.

Imminent Event (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21749276)

I am surprised there was no mention of the imminent near-earth event scheduled for 2008. Some scientists believe the asteroid TF352 from the Kuiper Belt could slam into Earth causing widespread devastation [dwarfurl.com]

The Earth's surface is mostly H2O (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21749288)

What'll happen if one hits water instead of dirt? More evaporation leading to somewhat elevated precipitation downwind? Or an extreme increase in clouds leading to an ice age?

Re:The Earth's surface is mostly H2O (1)

teebob21 (947095) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749340)

You mean after the gigantic tsunamis die down? Well, once the rebuilding begins on a global scale, elevated precipitation will likely be the least of one's worries, especially if you live within 20 miles of the coast.

Nah, would be no biggie. (4, Interesting)

foreverdisillusioned (763799) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749478)

A 3-5 megaton blast over the Atlantic wouldn't cause so much as a rough surf advisory in Key West. In comparison, the USA built a 45 megaton bomb and the USSR's fission-fusion-fission Tsar Bomba would have been 100+ megatons had they not taken the sensible precaution of replacing the final fission stage with inert lead. If a mere 5 megaton warhead could cause such worldwide devastation, I'm pretty sure someone would have mentioned it before now (and trust me, I've read just about every far-fetched doomsday scenario imaginable.)

As for the possibility of similar-sized asteroid impacting the ocean instead of exploding above it--well, the article only says that the asteroid is now thought to be "only a fraction as large as previously published estimates". That doesn't tell us anything. The Tunguska asteroid may or may not have been large enough to trigger a tsunami had it impacted an ocean instead of exploding over land. I'm going to assume that an impact will usually be less energetic (though perhaps more concentrated) than a heat-induced explosion, in which case no, the Tunguska asteroid never posed a significant threat to the world as a whole.

That said, the Tunguska explosion is still fascinating as hell. I know that there's a lot of very strong evidence pointing to the asteroid theory, but it's still fun to toy with conspiracy theories. The atomic bomb was first being conceived of, Tesla's Wardenclyffe Tower was being tested (by some accounts, it was brought online the day before the explosion)... it's all absolute rubbish, to be frank, but it's very entertaining rubbish.

Currently Reading. (5, Insightful)

Daemonax (1204296) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749350)

I'm currently reading Arthur C. Clarke's 'Rendezvous with Rama', which opens with the lines "Soon or later, it was bound to happen. On June 30, 1908, Moscow escaped destruction by three hours and four thousand kilometers -- a margin invisibly small by the standards of the universe."

In the book, we humans then go on to set up systems to track asteroids that may be a danger to earth, and set up defense systems against them. I know that we currently track some, but how well funded are these organizations that do this? This is really something that is quite important, as it is almost certainly just a matter of when, not if. Do we have systems in place that will allow us to destroy or divert any large asteroids that are determined to be on a path to impact with earth?

Re:Currently Reading. (5, Funny)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749470)

Do we have systems in place that will allow us to destroy or divert any large asteroids that are determined to be on a path to impact with earth?

Only one. [wikipedia.org] Be very afraid.

Re:Currently Reading. (2)

Siridar (85255) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749960)

are you sure that this guy [wikipedia.org] or perhaps this guy [wikipedia.org] can't help out?

Re:Currently Reading. (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749516)

This [nasa.gov] may be a good place to start reading... I cannot guess what their funding is, but I'd say it's "not too bad" (guessing)

Insufficient political attention (3, Insightful)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749548)

The British MP Lembit Opik (name is Scandinavian) has attempted to draw attention to the seriousness of the problem. The media dismiss him as a crank. Watching him on television it has been apparent that television presenters and the like are bottomlessly ignorant on the subject, and because they can't admit it, they just seek to trivialise the issue.

OK, we shouldn't expect media people to know everything, but we are very poorly served by their almost total scientific ignorance. I suspect that politicians would have become interested in global warming much sooner were the mass media not so piss poor at explaining scientific issues to the public, and almost perversely proud of it.

Re:Insufficient political attention (1)

ratbag (65209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749756)

To be fair, I don't think they treat him as a crank because of his views on asteroid defense. His choice (and treatment) of female companions ensures that he's regularly in the red tops for non-political reasons. I forget which of the fragrant Cheeky Girls he's stepping out with (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheeky_girls [wikipedia.org] ) now that he's dumped his previous TV weather forecaster fiancee, Siân Lloyd.

None of which should matter, or detract from his message, or make him appear any less sincere... It just means that when he appears on chat shows (he loves them), quiz shows (can't get enough of them either), daytime telly (quite likes that too) etc, it's difficult for the interviewers to engage seriously on a subject that he genuinely believes in.

Re:Insufficient political attention (2, Insightful)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749896)

The British MP Lembit Opik (name is Scandinavian) has attempted to draw attention to the seriousness of the problem. The media dismiss him as a crank.
I wonder why they do dismiss him? Global warming was the same. It seems curious in the face of the fact that the media, and the UK media in particular, spend most of their energy drumming up irrational abstract things to be afraid of (terrorists, pedophiles, etc etc), things which are unlikely to ever affect many in the UK.

Here are issues that, while rare, are real and should have contingency plans. Makes no sense.

Death by asteroid vs death by volcano (1)

wikinerd (809585) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750136)

set up systems to track asteroids

This is good, but few people pay any attention to the other great danger beneath our feet: The earth's magma.

There are many supervolcanoes waiting to happen. With extreme volcanism, much of the life on earth can die. Some people have got the idea that a volcano can destroy an island or a small region, but few people realise that the whole planet (or more specifically its atmosphere, which is what we need most) is in danger of supervolcanoes, and that these phenomena happen from time to time (and we have no way to surely know when the next will hit, it literally hapens under our noses and we know nothing).

We may be able to somehow deorbit a small asteroid, but what about our very own planet? How could we manage all this magma under the ground? We literally live on small islands floating a boiling abyss. We know very well that there are good probabilities that many or all of us will sometime die when some of the boiling magma gets out in a huge explosion and toxicates our delicate atmosphere and hides the sun for years. Yet, there is no public discussion on this topic, no one seems to care, a few smart people have noticed that asteroids must be somehow managed, but I haven't seen many people realising that our very own planet is also a threat that must be somehow managed.

Sometime in the future (3, Funny)

tanveer1979 (530624) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749384)

A new study has been released proving that the fireball event in the server room was caused by slashdot and not an asteroid

Gitmo next for kdawson (5, Funny)

mach1980 (1114097) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749386)

I'm not a US resident but isn't slashdotting/DoS-attacking a federally owned site a criminal/terror offence in the US?

Re:Gitmo next for kdawson (1)

Megaport (42937) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749506)

They hate our freedom (as in beer... no, wait...)

-M

of course it was an 'asteroid' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21749460)

Seems like alot of money wasted proving something that happned to another country.

Which means that we have finally figured out how tesla did it. And now we have something to hide. :)

So offer up a good explanation. And the mystery is 'solved'.

Re:of course it was an 'asteroid' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21750182)

Seems like alot of money wasted proving something that happned to another country.
Unfathomable stupidity.

Unlikely to be an asteroid (3, Interesting)

Sara Chan (138144) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749494)

The computer simulation is interesting, but the Tunguska event is unlikely to be an asteroid. There were strange events reported in the area for days prior to the explosion, there were odd lights, etc.

An alternative explanation was proposed by Wolfgang Kundt, a researcher at the Institut für Astrophysik, University of Bonn:

Kundt W. (2001),
The 1908 Tunguska catastrophe: An alternative explanation [ias.ac.in] ”,
Current Science, 81: 399–407.

The basic proposal is that there was a natural gas leak, from the Earth. The gas rose to a certain height, then drifted downwind. After several days, a lightning strike ignited the airborne gas, and the flame then traveled along line (of drifted gas), to the ground source.

It is worth reading the article. An asteroid impact is sexy, but the alternative explanation fits with the data much better.

Re:Unlikely to be an asteroid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21749622)

I don't buy it. If the flames followed the gas to the ground source, you would see scorching on the ground at the source. No such thing was found.

dom

Re:Unlikely to be an asteroid (1)

BUTT-H34D (840273) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749706)

"An alternative explanation was proposed by Wolfgang Kundt"

Huh huh. Heh heh.

Re:Unlikely to be an asteroid (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749848)

As with most of the altertnative explanations this is an answer looking for a question, an asteroid airburst is simple, likely, has happened before will happen again, and fits the known documented facts.... (not rumour, or hearsay collected years after the event)

The summary of the article is (as usual) misleading
    "Tunguska Blast Was a Small Asteroid" - yes we know (it's just a bit smaller thank previously thought) ...and note this was an air-burst not an impact (only the fireball from the airbust acually reached the ground) so no crater is required either ...

Re:Unlikely to be an asteroid (4, Interesting)

Pentagram (40862) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749894)

It is worth reading the article. An asteroid impact is sexy, but the alternative explanation fits with the data much better. And how does a natural gas explosion leave the nickel and iridium deposits that were found at the site? An asteroid impact is not the accepted theory because it is "sexier", but because of Occam's razor.

Re:Unlikely to be an asteroid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21750062)

What "nickel and iridium deposits"? There were none. Indeed, the lack of debris is one of the evidences against the asteroid hypothesis.

Re:Unlikely to be an asteroid (5, Informative)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750084)

You're wrong.

One of many references if you'd bothered to look: http://www.physorg.com/news819.html [physorg.com]

Pertinent section:

Expeditions sent to the area in the 1950s and 1960s did find microscopic glass spheres in siftings of the soil. Chemical analysis showed that the spheres contained high proportions of nickel and iridium, which are found in high concentrations in meteorites, and indicated that they were of extraterrestrial origin.

I've seen the 'natural gas' theory before. It's so contrived that it's almost like science-comedy.

So? How big was it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21749520)

It says that it was smaller than first thought, but it doesn't say how big the damn thing was! Do they know the diameter? Do they know its mass? How about its density? I want to know how big an asteroid has to be in order to make a blast of a few megatons.

dom

Re:So? How big was it? (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749652)

Clue: the groundburst that left the hole known as Barringer Crater (AKA Meteor Crater) in Arizona, a mile-wide, hundred-foot-deep pock, was the size of a house. The rock that hit what is now the Gulf of Mexico was less than 30 miles wide.

Re:So? How big was it? (1)

bcmm (768152) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750046)

I don't think anyone is claiming that the Gulf of Mexico is the crater, I'm afraid. The crater has been detected, but it's buried under an awful lot of rock and sediment now.

And in case anyone didn't know, he's talking about the impact that is now generally blamed for the K/T event and all the strange geology, climate change and mass extinction it caused.

Horizon (3, Interesting)

Spad (470073) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749682)

The BBC's Horizon program ran a story about this last year [bbc.co.uk]

Re:Horizon (2, Informative)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750108)

Dammit that almost certainly means it's untrue :p

Horizon is the worst for sensationalising pseudo-science. Many years ago it was a serious science documentary series.. not it's just unwatchable trash.

So Asteroids are fine but weapons are a no-go?? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21749714)

What strikes me (excuse the pun) is that now they've determined it was an asteroid the attitude is "oh well these things happen - at least it wasn't someones big secret weapon".

Ok, so let me ask, whats the difference?

If it was a big super weapon like a Nuke everyone would be panic strikken. Because it was just a asteroid there is no reason to worry. Lets not forget that large enough asteroids could wipe out the entire planet (not just one or 2 countries like our nukes..)

On the trail of common sense, why is a football player a hero, yet we have troops in Iraq that are only recognised as a hero once they arrive home in a wooden box with lots of press coverage?

The world has gone completely mad..

Re:So Asteroids are fine but weapons are a no-go?? (1)

entropys_cbn_dbt (1057850) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749746)

Of curse the real reason for this research was not looking at how the asteroid impact happened, but modelling a small nuclear airburst. This is the way the scientists get to leak the results of their research. /tin foil wearing moonbat.

Re:So Asteroids are fine but weapons are a no-go?? (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750256)

What strikes me (excuse the pun) is that now they've determined it was an asteroid the attitude is "oh well these things happen - at least it wasn't someones big secret weapon".

Ok, so let me ask, whats the difference?
Asteroids strike effectively random targets. Weapons are aimed by people.

Mirror (4, Informative)

AftanGustur (7715) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749732)



The videos total over 56 Megabytes, so I have put up a mirror Here [fransman.fr]

I still like the Tesla explanation best (1)

comradeeroid (1048432) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749750)

Dammit, don't go smear my wonderous conviction with your filthy science. Astronomy is just Astrology in fancy dress anyways... ;P

The real cause of the explosion (1)

Teisei (1172661) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749778)

Somebody farted into a camp fire.

Re:The real cause of the explosion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21750050)

Sorry, my bad.

  - God

We must mobilize... (2, Funny)

agw (6387) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749792)

to destroy the Arachnid threat.

This has been the theory for a long time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21749946)

In the 1960s the accepted story was that a meteorite 'exploded' over Siberia. It wasn't until much later that I learned that it was caused by Tesla. ;-) http://prometheus.al.ru/english/phisik/onichelson/onichelson.htm [prometheus.al.ru]

Diameter ~ 50 meters (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21750042)

5 megaton TNT = 2e16 J = 0.5 mv^2

Now the typical impact speed of an asteroid is around 20 km/s:

      0.5 m (2e4 m/s)^2 = 2e16 J

      2e8 m (m/s)^2 = 2e16 J,

which yields the mass:

      m = 1e8 kg.

Assuming the average density of the asteroid to be about that of water (1000 kg per cubic meter), we get the volume:

      V = 1e5 m^3

and, assuming a spherical shape, the diameter:

      d = 58 m.

Many known asteroids are somewhat denser than water (1000-4000 kg/m^3).

To get one week's advance warning for the blast, the asteroid must be spotted 10 million kilometers away.

Tesla did it. (1)

Lost Penguin (636359) | more than 6 years ago | (#21750090)

Tesla destroyed all his work notes that lead to this explosion.

Video images (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21750124)

Hey if nothing else those models would make for great Tshirt designs...
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