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Mystery still surrounds 1908 Tunguska event

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Teri Charboneau
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« on: July 12, 2016, 01:54:10 am »

    with bigger asteroids that might cause global extinctions

"While I am aware of the advantages of sensational publicity in drawing public attention to a problem, it should be stressed that unhealthy interest aroused as a result of distorted facts and misinformation should never be used as a basis for the furtherance of scientific knowledge."

But that did not stop others coming up with even more imaginative ideas. In 1973 a paper was published in the reputable journal Nature, suggesting that a black hole collided into Earth to cause the explosion. This was quickly disputed by others.

Artemieva says ideas like this are simply a by-product of human psychology. "People who like secrets and 'theories' usually do not listen to scientists," she says. A huge explosion, coupled with a lack of cosmic remnants, is ripe for these kinds of speculations.

But she also says scientists must shoulder some responsibility, because they took so long to analyse the explosion site. They were more concerned with bigger asteroids that might cause global extinctions, just as the Chicxulub asteroid did. It wiped out most of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago.

In 2013 one team put a stop to much of the speculation of the earlier decades. Led by Victor Kvasnytsya of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, the researchers analysed microscopic samples of rocks collected from the explosion site in 1978. The rocks had a meteoric origin. Crucially, the fragments they analysed were recovered from a layer of peat dating back to 1908.

    Various gravitational interactions can make [asteroids] change their orbit more dramatically

The remnants had traces of a carbon mineral called lonsdaleite, which has a crystal structure almost like diamond. This particular mineral is known to form when a graphite-containing structure, such as a meteor, crashes into Earth.

"Our study of samples from Tunguska, as well as research of many other authors reveals meteorite origin of Tunguska event," says Kvasnytsya. "We believe that nothing paranormal happened at Tunguska."
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