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No. 102: Nov-Dec 1995

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Remnants of tunguska

When something exploded over Siberia on June 30, 1908, flattening more than 2,100 square kilometers of forest, it left no crater of consequence and no obvious pieces of itself. Scientists have claimed all along that it was a comet or asteroid that detonated in the atmosphere. A few less conservative people ventured that it was an alien spaceship that blew up! G. Longo and colleagues, Universita di Bologna, have apparently found a way to determine the true nature of this invading object. They examined the resin in the conifers surrounding the site of the blast to see if any particulate debris had been trapped in the sticky goo -- much as ancient insects have been preserved in amber.

"Longo and associates used a scanning electron microscope to examine 7,163 particles recovered from the site and from two control sites. They found anomalously high abundances of elements such as iron, calcium, aluminum, copper, gold, zinc, and oxygen in the Tunguska-site samples, strongly peaking around 1908."

Their conclusion: The impactor was a stony meteorite of normal density. (Anonymous; "Remnants of Tunguska," Astronomy, 23:26, October 1995.)

From Science Frontiers #102 Nov-Dec 1995. 1995-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987