Saturday, April 23, 2022

#AtoZChallenge2022: T is for Tunguska (and Tesla)

The A to Z of Conspiracy Theories T
The A to Z of Conspiracy Theories: T is for Tunguska (and some Tesla)

On the morning of June 30, 1908 near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in Yeniseysk Governorate (now Krasnoyarsk Krai), Russia an explosion of roughly 12 megatons occurred.  This is not in doubt and was well documented at the time.

What is in doubt is why it happened and what caused it.

Since then there have been over 1,000 scholarly papers and countless more less reputable inquiries as to what happened.  The best guess so far is it was some sort of meteor that hit the Earth with a glancing blow. 

Others have speculated that it was a comet, a small asteroid, or even more fanciful ideas like a bit of "dark matter" or even anti-matter.  Though in those last two cases we would need to figure out what dark matter actually is first and for it to be anti-matter where did it come from because it would not last long in space and not at all in any part of the Earth's atmosphere.   Going on the even more fringe it was a black hole, alien spacecraft, or Tesla's Death Ray.  More on those in a bit.

Tunguska has fascinated me for years.  I wish I could recall when I first heard about it.  It have to have been Carl Sagan's Cosmos ('Heaven and Hell') since I can't recall anything talking about it before that.  I found it so strange and yet so cool.  It would later be a throwaway line from Dan Aykroyd's Ray Stanz in Ghostbusters.  It would come again as a major plot point in the X-Files.

Let's look into the two big fringe theories, one of which is a conspiracy theory.

Nikola Tesla and the Death Rays

This is one that has received the most ink in my library.  It is also a proper Conspiracy Theory.  In the late 1890s, early 1900s, Nikola Tesla was working on the means to transfer large amounts of electricity through the air.  His experiments were failures for the most part.  But there is the claim that while working on this he sent a blast from Colorado to the North, over the North Pole, and hitting Sibera causing the Tunguska blast.  The government then came in to hush it all up to keep the Russians and Czar from knowing.  The US Government then kept pressuring Tesla to repeat the experiment for a long range "death ray."

We do know that when Tesla died FBI officals rushed into his New York hotel and confescated all his belongings.  Among these were supposedly plans for his death ray.

UFOs Over Russia

Another popular idea (it's not a theory) is that the blast happened due to a crashing or exploding UFO.  This might help with the question of where did the anti-matter come from if it were an anti-matter explosion.   Of course there is no evidence for this.  It was 1908 in the remotest part of Russia.  Even if good records had been keept in a little more than 10 years the Communists would have control and anything like records or evidence could have been lost.

These notions all come from more recent scientific forays into Siberia. One as recently as 2004. So not quite a 100 years after the fact.


Look. You can't mention Tesla and not get my ideas generating!  He is the epitome of the mad scientist.  If you have a game that has an inventor or weird science then at some point you are going to need to talk about Tesla.

So what was Tunguska in the worlds of NIGHT SHIFT?  Easy. It was e.) All the above.

There were UFOs over Siberia.  The US government had found about them and Tesla blew them up with his death ray.  Something he felt terrible about ever after.  The aliens would then later investigate again only to crash in Roswell, NM.  That's USA 2, Aliens 0!

A possible adventure idea is that someone has found Tesla's notes and now has their own death ray! 

Tesla books

The NIGHT SHIFT RPG is available from the Elf Lair Games website (hardcover) and from DriveThruRPG (PDF)


Afshan Shaik said...

Tunguska...quite a new name for about it only here. Interesting theories and possibilities....USA finding aliens and Tesla blowing them up conclusion of yrs seems more interesting too?? What is the actual reality?

Dropping by from a to z "The Pensive"

Arlee Bird said...

I can't recall when I first heard about this either. To me not many of the theories make sense other than the meteor strike. That one seems the most logical and realistic.

Arlee Bird
Tossing It Out

Afshan Shaik said...

Did u get my comment?

Cheryl said...

This is fascinating and something I've heard about before. You have filled in other details I didn't know about, and now I want to dig out my X-Files DVDs.

Thanks for sharing.

Joy said...

What an interesting event to know so little about. No wonder conspiracy theories show up.

Joy's Book Blog

PT Dilloway said...

The UFO idea seems more plausible to me than the "Death Ray" one.

doccarnby said...

A secret pro-monarchist group turned alien cult that made off with alien technology from the event during the revolution could make a fun villain organization.

Ah, they can be the ones who killed Rasputin because he managed to make psychic contact with a different extraterrestrial intelligence whose plans were antithetical to theirs.

moondustwriter said...

Tesla was an interesting fellow to be sure.
This event could have received alot more scrutiny - hmmm
good speculation on your part.

Steve Slack