This is an excellent book written by Surendra Verma who is based in Australia. The Tunguska Mystery has baffled Scientists, Geologists, and numerous Writers and Researchers for decades, and even today no one really knows the real truth, unless of course, you happen to be a fan of the X-Files.
This is a bold attempt to try and solve the mystery and Verma does mention some possibilities which may be nearer to the mark than one thinks. For example, the possibiilty that it was a fragmented meteorite which did explode in the atmosphere due to the intense heat, not leaving a crater, and only minute fragments on the ground. This would be the best suggestion of all in solving this mystery. However, what I like about Verma's fine book is that he involves all suggestions and theories even down to the level of the X-Files which I found very entertaining indeed! So, it is an easy to read and well written essay, rather than a long winded and tiresome academic study which I am sure would turn off the majority of readers.
A fascinating and readable account of one of the most enduring mysteries of the 20thC.
on 18 March 2007
In the early morning of June 30, 1908, a fireball flew across the Siberian sky and exploded in a 15 megaton blast that flattened 2,150 acres of Siberian forest. In the years that followed, scientists correlated atmospheric pressure readings, reports of unusually bright sunsets and "night glows" in the skies over northern Europe, recordings of seismic waves, and eyewitness accounts, concluding that the cause was probably a stony asteroid that entered the earth's atmosphere and broke up explosively 8 kilometers above the Earth at 7:14 am local time.
Verma's story doesn't end there, of course, or "The Tunguska Fireball" would be a fairly short book. As it is, Verma uses the Tunguska event to embark on an entertaining discussion of how scientists came to understand what had probably happened in the skies over Siberia. The investigations into this remote area were difficult and the findings yielded many interesting theories, ranging from fairly plausible ideas about the arrival of a stony asteroid or comet, to more exotic hypotheses involving black holes, antimatter, mirror matter, volcanoes, ball lightning, and "geometeors," to really bizarre notions about crippled alien spaceships, laser beams from other planets and death rays secretly invented by Nikola Tesla (really). The Tunguska event offers a great excuse to digress among a number of interesting ideas, although I confess that I find Verma's explanations of the underlying science to be a tad murky at times.
When the dust settles (so to speak), I'll place my bets on the stony asteroid theory, with a sentimental vote for the killer comet--the other hypotheses seem to require too much special pleading to be a compelling way to think about the event, at least based on the information we have in hand today. That said, the most sobering revelation in Verma's book is his report of the "mini-Tunguska" event of September 24, 2002. A US satellite spotted an object that entered the earth's atmosphere, but lost it as it fell below 30 kilometers; a few moments later, another satellite reported a fireball exploding in the cloudy skies above Siberia. The explosion flattened 100 square kilometers of forest with the energy of a small atomic bomb, but no one witnessed the fireball and, as far as we know, no one was killed or injured. The story would have been very different if the object, whatever it was, had exploded above a populated area.
Verma's books makes entertaining and sobering reading. "The Tunguska Fireball" will make you wonder how many more objects are floating around in the void with Earth's name on them.
on 27 January 2005
To tell the truth, initially I (being in Tunguska research since 1980s) did not think that I could find anything interesting for me in the book. Indeed it is a popular book, and moreover written by a non-member of Tunguska research community. So I expected just some well-known general (and often distorted) stuff, which I am already tired to read. But when I began to read, I couldn't stop! Moreover I found new intriguing info possibly related with the first trip to the Tunguska epicenter!
Fortunately there are just a few shortcomings and mistakes, unlike in a typical publication on Tunguska, especially in English. If the book was published in Russian, I would call it as a good one. And in my opinion it is the best book on Tunguska in English.
on 25 May 2012
The Tunguska explosion (a 10-15 megaton blast that flattened almost 2,150 kilometres of Siberian forest), is probably one of those mysteries that will never be fully solved. All you have here (or should I say, all you are left with) is quite a lot of different theories and possible scenarios - and none of them fully gives you the answer to what exactly did happened over Siberia in 1908. This book also doesn't give you one definitive, 100% fool proof, answer as what exactly caused Tunguska explosion (probably no book can give you that), but it will give you several different possible (and impossible) scenarios to ponder over.
Some of the theories and scenarios discussed in book (as what caused the explosion) are as follows: a comet, asteroid, meteorite, ani-matter, mirror-matter, massive gas explosion, nuclear explosion, mini black hole, giant lightning ball, space ship, Tesla's death ray and many more (some of them are actually quite entertaining).
The author also discusses, and in a way shows you the glimpses from life of Leonid Kulik a mineralogist and authority on meteorites, who believed that the Tunguska fireball was a giant meteorite. His four expeditions (which are also detailed in the book) to the site failed to find any remains (which he believed are laying somewhere hidden in the explosion site). The questions that haunted Kulik were pretty much the same as are haunting current researchers: where was the meteorite crater with its raised rim, which should have been created at the moment of impact? And if it wasn't a meteorite, then what caused the great Siberian explosion?
In overall: even though you won't get the definitive answer to the mystery of Tunguska explosion (but then it wouldn't be a mystery anymore, wouldn't it?), this is quite good and fast read for somebody who wants to know almost everything about what happened in Tunguska in 1908. Side note: for me a lack of definitive answer is not a negative point here - since I wasn't expecting a "100% fool proof" solution to the mystery. But I was expecting a book which would give me an overview of several different scenarios with a bit of "history of the Tunguska's explosion" - and this is exactly what I got.