Tunguska event

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Cosmos by Carl Sagan

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Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Arthur Eddington, clockwork universe, dematerialisation, double helix, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, germ theory of disease, invention of movable type, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Lao Tzu, Louis Pasteur, Magellanic Cloud, Mars Rover, Menlo Park, music of the spheres, pattern recognition, planetary scale, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, spice trade, Tunguska event

Each of these ideas has been proposed, some of them more or less seriously. Not one of them is strongly supported by the evidence. The key point of the Tunguska Event is that there was a tremendous explosion, a great shock wave, an enormous forest fire, and yet there is no impact crater at the site. There seems to be only one explanation consistent with all the facts: In 1908 a piece of a comet hit the Earth. In the vast spaces between the planets there are many objects, some rocky, some metallic, some icy, some composed partly of organic molecules. They range from grains of dust to irregular blocks the size of Nicaragua or Bhutan. And sometimes, by accident, there is a planet in the way. The Tunguska Event was probably caused by an icy cometary fragment about a hundred meters across—the size of a football field—weighing a million tons, moving at about 30 kilometers per second, 70,000 miles per hour.

.… As soon as the flame had disappeared, bangs louder than shots from a gun were heard, the ground could be felt to tremble, and the window panes in the cabin were shattered. … I was washing wool on the bank of the River Kan. Suddenly a noise like the fluttering of the wings of a frightened bird was heard … and a kind of swell came up the river. After this came a single sharp bang so loud that one of the workmen … fell into the water. This remarkable occurrence is called the Tunguska Event. Some scientists have suggested that it was caused by a piece of hurtling antimatter, annihilated on contact with the ordinary matter of the Earth, disappearing in a flash of gamma rays. But the absence of radioactivity at the impact site gives no support to this explanation. Others postulate that a mini black hole passed through the Earth in Siberia and out the other side. But the records of atmospheric shock waves show no hint of an object booming out of the North Atlantic later that day.

The debris spreads to fill the full cometary orbit. Where that orbit intersects the orbit of the Earth, there is a swarm of meteors waiting for us. Some part of the swarm is always at the same position in the Earth’s orbit, so the meteor shower is always observed on the same day of every year. June 30, 1908 was the day of the Beta Taurid meteor shower, connected with the orbit of Comet Encke. The Tunguska Event seems to have been caused by a chunk of Comet Encke, a piece substantially larger than the tiny fragments that cause those glittering, harmless meteor showers. Comets have always evoked fear and awe and superstition. Their occasional apparitions disturbingly challenged the notion of an unalterable and divinely ordered Cosmos. It seemed inconceivable that a spectacular streak of milk-white flame, rising and setting with the stars night after night, was not there for a reason, did not hold some portent for human affairs.

Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, Ella Morton

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anti-communist, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, centre right, colonial rule, Colonization of Mars, cosmic microwave background, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, double helix, East Village, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Frank Gehry, germ theory of disease, Golden Gate Park, Google Earth, Haight Ashbury, horn antenna, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, index card, Jacques de Vaucanson, Kowloon Walled City, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, mass immigration, mutually assured destruction, phenotype, Pluto: dwarf planet, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, Tunguska event, urban sprawl, Vesna Vulović, white picket fence, wikimedia commons, working poor

Petersburg. Get a bus or trolleybus to Universitetskaya Naberezhnaya. 59.941568 30.304588 Completed in 1654, the Gottorb Globe was the world’s first planetarium. Tunguska Event Epicenter VANAVARA, KRASNOYARSK KRAI On June 30, 1908, at 7:14 a.m., a powerful explosion shattered windows, knocked people off their feet, and leveled 80 million trees over 830 square miles (2,150 sq. km) of forest around Siberia’s Podkamennaya Tunguska River basin. Initial speculation was that a meteorite had hit Earth, but subsequent investigations found no crater in the area. Naturally, the mysterious nature of the Tunguska Event has given rise to a wealth of conspiracy theories. Among the more far-fetched culprits: a tiny black hole passing through the Earth; a UFO crash; and the testing of Nikola Tesla’s secret “death ray.”

Among the more far-fetched culprits: a tiny black hole passing through the Earth; a UFO crash; and the testing of Nikola Tesla’s secret “death ray.” Today, the favored scientific explanation involves the midair explosion of a large meteoroid or comet. Indeed, it is the largest impact event in recent history. Split, mangled, and felled trees are all still visible around the Tunguska site. The closest village to the Tunguska Event epicenter is the town of Vanavara, located about 40 miles (65 km) southeast of the epicenter. 60.902539 101.904508 Kola Superdeep Borehole MURMANSK, MURMANSK OBLAST Until 1970, geologists could only theorize about the composition of the Earth’s crust. That was the year Soviet scientists began drilling what would become the deepest hole in the world. Engaged in a subterranean version of the Space Race, the USSR went all out to beat the US in a journey to the center of the Earth.

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Smart Money: How High-Stakes Financial Innovation Is Reshaping Our WorldÑFor the Better by Andrew Palmer

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The good news is that he assumes a plan to acquire and deploy a nuclear bomb would require a lot of people working in concert, making it more likely that the intelligence agencies would detect them. Woo’s job requires him to think about almost every conceivable disaster. We first met a few days after a meteorite had entered the earth’s atmosphere over Russia and exploded in the air above the region of Chelyabinsk, injuring as many as fifteen hundred people. The Chelyabinsk object was the largest to have entered our atmosphere since a 1908 meteorite known as the Tunguska event, which also struck Russia and flattened an estimated 80 million trees. The chances of a meteorite striking Germany was another thing Woo considered in designing the World Cup risk model, but this was one he ended up dismissing. Some probabilities (like that of England winning the tournament) are just too low to assess properly.1 Woo works at a firm called Risk Management Solutions (RMS), one of three large companies (the others are AIR Worldwide and Eqecat) that specialize in modeling catastrophes.

., “Making Savers Winners: An Overview of Prize-Linked Savings Products” (NBER Working Paper 16433, October 2010); Melissa Schettini Kearney, “State Lotteries and Consumer Behaviour” (NBER Working Paper 9330, November 2002). 11. Robert Shiller, The New Financial Order (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003). 12. Anne Murphy, “Lotteries in the 1690s: Investment or Gamble?,” Financial History Review (October 2005). NOTES TO CHAPTER 9 1. Giuseppe Longo, “The Tunguska Event,” in Comet/Asteroid Impacts and Human Society: An Interdisciplinary Approach, edited by Peter Bobrowsky and Hans Rickman (Berlin: Springer, 2007). 2. To be precise, a special-purpose vehicle set up by the sponsoring insurer is the issuer of the bond. That protects investors from having their money locked up in a bankruptcy process if the issuer goes bust. 3. Goetz von Peter, Sebastian von Dahlen, and Sweta Saxena, “Unmitigated Disasters?


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The Science of Fear: How the Culture of Fear Manipulates Your Brain by Daniel Gardner

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Atul Gawande, availability heuristic, Black Swan, Cass Sunstein, citizen journalism, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, Doomsday Clock, feminist movement, haute couture, hindsight bias, illegal immigration, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), mandatory minimum, medical residency, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, moral panic, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, placebo effect, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, Tunguska event, uranium enrichment, Y2K, young professional

They don’t stir any particular emotion, and so they don’t engage the Good-Bad Rule and overwhelm our sense of how very unlikely they are to hurt us. The Example Rule doesn’t help, either. The only really massive asteroid impact in the modern era was the Tunguska event, which happened a century ago in a place so remote only a handful of people saw it. There have been media reports of “near misses” and a considerable amount of attention paid to astronomers’ warnings, but while these may raise conscious awareness of the issue, they’re very different from the kind of concrete experience our primal brains are wired to respond to. Many people also know of the theory that an asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs, but that’s no more real and vivid in our memories than the Tunguska event, and so the Example Rule would steer Gut to conclude that the risk is tinier than it actually is. There is simply nothing about asteroids that could make Gut sit up and take notice.

restless legs syndrome Reynolds, Kim Rich, Frank Richardson, Louise ricin Roberts, Cokie Roberts, Julian Roche, John Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Rosenthal, Jeffrey Rothman, Alexander Rothman, Stanley Rottenstreich, Yuval Rozin, Paul Rule of Typical Things Ryle, Gilbert Sachs, Jeffrey Sagan, Carl sanitation sarin gas Sarkozy, Nicolas Schacter, Daniel Scheuer, Michael Schneider, Stephen school shootings Schwartz, Lisa Schwartz, Tony Schwartzman, Donna Schwarz, Norbert security industry Shames, Daniel shark attacks Sharpe, Richard Sherman, Steven sickle-cell anemia Siegrist, Michael Silent Spring (Carson) Simon, Herbert Sinaceur, Marwan Slovic, Paul and breast implant risks and the Good-Bad Rule and health risk research and impact of culture and media influence and numeracy risk perception research and the Tenerife conference and the tobacco lawsuit Small, Deborah smallpox Smart, Elizabeth Smith, Anna Nicole smoking Sokolove, Michael Stahl, Leslie Stalin, Joseph statistics and the breast implant scare contrasted with stories and crime risks and health risks methodological issues probability blindness Strack, Fritz Stuber, Bob Sunstein, Cass Sutcliffe, Simon Suzuki, David Taliban Tenerife Tenet, George Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) terrorism and the Bush administration and catastrophist writing and cost-benefit analysis and global communications and the Good-Bad Rule low-probability/high-consequence event and marketing fear and media coverage political reaction to psychological impact and risk perception and weapons of mass destruction Tetlock, Philip Thoreau, Henry David Trunzo, Caesar tsunamis Tunguska event Tversky, Amos typhoid fever typhus U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) vaccines Vallone, Robert Vandello, Joseph Vietnam War volcanoes VX nerve agent Wald, George Walsh, John Wansink, Brian Wason, Peter water purification Waxman, Henry weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) Weingart, John Wells, Holly Westen, Drew West Nile virus Whelan, Paul Whylie, Barbara Wildavsky, Aaron Will, George Willer, Robb Wilms, Ian Wilson, Robyn Winfrey, Oprah Winkielman, Piotr Wolf, Naomi Woloshin, Steven World Health Organization (WHO) Worldwatch Institute World Wildlife Fund York, Herbert Zajonc, Robert Zaltman, Gerald Zillman, Dolf Zimmerman, Peter About the Author Daniel Gardner is a columnist and senior writer with the Ottawa Citizen.


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Warnings by Richard A. Clarke

active measures, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, anti-communist, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, Bernie Madoff, cognitive bias, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, corporate governance, cuban missile crisis, data acquisition, discovery of penicillin, double helix, Elon Musk, failed state, financial thriller, fixed income, Flash crash, forensic accounting, friendly AI, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, knowledge worker, Maui Hawaii, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, money market fund, mouse model, Nate Silver, new economy, Nicholas Carr, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, phenotype, Ponzi scheme, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, smart grid, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Stuxnet, technological singularity, The Future of Employment, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, Tunguska event, uranium enrichment, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, women in the workforce, Y2K

David Morrison, in his book, had simply shown what would have happened if the 1908 event had taken place at the time of his writing. It might have triggered global thermonuclear war. If the asteroid had been a few minutes later in arriving at Earth, its impact could have been over Helsinki or Oslo. Even in 1908, that would have killed hundreds of thousands of people. The message of Morrison’s book was that the 1908 Tunguska event was not as anomalous as we would like to think, and a strike of equal or greater magnitude could happen again. Morrison, who was born just before World War II, is an astronomer with a Ph.D. from Harvard and decades of experience leading space-exploration projects at NASA. He is also generally regarded as the person who focused the world’s attention on the threat from asteroids and is a leader in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).

(Enthoven), 361 Hsu, Steve, 343 Huckabee, Mike, 384n Human embryo gene editing, 326, 340–41, 345 Huntington, Samuel, 36 Hurricane Andrew, 53 Hurricane Betsy, 46 Hurricane Katrina, 6, 39–55, 72 government failures, 50–55 levee system, 40, 41–42, 46, 49, 50, 53–54 making landfall, 39–40, 49 New Orleans Scenario and, 45, 46–50, 52 Hurricane Pam exercise, 40, 47–49 Hurricane Sandy, 252 Hussein, Saddam Allen’s warning of Gulf War, 19–20, 22–23, 26–30, 358 Iraq-Iran War, 22–24 WMD and, 31 Hussein of Jordan, 28 IBM, 202, 209 Idaho Falls exercise, 288–89 Ideological Response Rejection, 179–80 Impact events, 301–24 Chelyabinsk meteor, 309–10, 316 Chicxulub crater, 307–9 Tunguska event, 301–3, 316 “In-attentional blindness,” 175 India, 261–73 Cold Start doctrine, 264–65, 267, 270 Mumbai terrorist attacks of 2008, 261–64 nuclear weapons and Pakistan, 264–73, 281–82 partition of, 265–66 Indian Air Force, 264 Indian Army, 266–67 Indian Navy, 264 Indications and warning (I&W), 25–27, 359–60 Industrial Revolution, 175 Initial Occurrence Syndrome, 171–72 Ford and Syria, 72 Fukushima nuclear disaster, 97–98 Iraq-Kuwait case, 34–35 Morrison and asteroid threat, 318 van Heerden and levee failures, 52 Yudkowsky and AI, 215 Institutional reluctance, 140–42, 177–78, 320–21 Intelligence (IQ), 343 “Intelligence explosion,” 201–2, 205 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 246–50, 253, 254–55 International Arabian Horse Association, 54 International Herald-Tribune, 92 International Rice Research Institute, 193 International Summit on Human Gene Editing (2015), 345–46 Internet of Things (IoT), 292–300, 366 Invisible Obvious, 174–76, 234–35 In vitro fertilization (IVF), 343–44 Iran Iraq-Iran War, 22–24 nuclear program, 291–92 Syria and, 67, 73, 74 Iran-Contra scandal, 32 Iraq, 58, 63.

See also Financial crisis of 2008 weak AI and, 211–12 Storm, The (van Heerden), 51 Stuxnet, 291–92 Subprime mortgage crisis, 147–48, 153–54, 157, 162 Suh, Simona, 117–18 Sunni Muslims, 63 Sunshine Mine disaster of 1972, 128–29 Sun Yat-sen University, 340 SUNY Downstate Medical Center, 186 Super Aegis II, 214 Superintelligence, 201, 203–16 Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), 292, 293 Surveillance, 359–60 “Swarm boats,” 214 Swine flu, 195–98, 218 Symposium Greek Restaurant (New York City), 237, 252–53 Syria, 57–74 Ford scenario, 65–66, 67–69 slippery slope of intervention, 70–74 Syrian Civil War, 60–61, 62–64, 72–73 Szostak, Jack, 327 Tactical nuclear weapons, 267–69 “Take It Easy” (song), 305 Tamiflu, 225, 233 Taubenberger, Jeffery, 222 Team Louisiana Report, 55 Technical expertise, 182–83 Technological evolution, 212–13 Technological singularity, 209 Tectonic plates, 80, 81 “Tells,” 25–27, 29–30, 36–37 Tenet, George, 8 Terminator, The (movie), 205 Tesla, 202 Tetlock, Philip, 13–15 Thierry de la Villehuchet, René, 102–3, 109, 113 “Tickling the dragon’s tail,” 83 Titan III rockets, 11–12 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami of 2011, 81–82, 84–85 Tohoku Electric Power Co., 91 Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), 76–78, 86–98, 92–98 Toon, Owen, 273, 278–79 Trenberth, Kevin, 253 Troy, 1–2 Truman, Harry, 127 TTAPS, 273–77 Tunguska event, 301–3, 316 Tunisia, 57, 58 Turco, Richard P., 273, 276–77 Turkey, 62–63 Tyrosinemia, 332, 334 UBS, 149 Ukraine power grid cyber attack of 2015, 283–85, 287–88, 289, 291 Umea University, 329 Unemployment, 212–13 United Arab Emirates (UAE), 28 United Nations Climate Change Conference (2015), 247–50 United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), 88 Universal hackability, 296–300 University of California, Berkeley, 13–14, 226, 327, 329 University of California, San Diego, 297 University of Colorado, 254, 328 University of Hawaii, 256, 315, 326 University of Iowa, 238, 243 University of Massachusetts, 296 University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 332 University of Tokyo School of Engineering, 92 Upper Big Branch Mine disaster, 121–22, 130–37 accident report, 133 Cassandra system, 137–38, 140–41 ventilation system, 133–37 Van Allen, James, 238 Van Heerden, Ivor, 41–55 background of, 41, 42–43 coastal restoration program, 43–44, 53 government failures and, 50–55 New Orleans Scenario, 45, 46–50, 52 resignation of, 44 Veracode, 295 Vinge, Vernor, 202 Vulnerabilities, and complexity, 366–67 Wall Street Journal, 115, 119, 154, 158, 163 Ward, Grant, 106 Warfare and AI, 199, 200, 213–14 Warning, the, 168, 170, 170–76 Warsaw Pact, 278 Washington Post, 243, 340 Waterman Award, 328–29 Watson (computer), 202, 209 Watson, James, 328 Watt, James, 174–75 Weak AI, 201, 210–13 Weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), 30–31, 358 Webster, Robert G., 223–25, 231–32, 235–36 Weidner, David, 158, 163 Weiss, Joe, 283–84, 286–89, 291–96, 298–300 West Antarctic Ice Sheet, 239, 246, 360 West Berlin, 25 Wharton School, 157–58 White, Ryan, 227, 384n White House National Warning Office, 355–56 Principals Committee, 29 Situation Room, 26–27, 181 Whitney, Meredith, 143–46, 148–54, 160–65 background of, 151, 153–54 Citigroup downgrade, 143–46, 154, 156–60, 164–65 Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), 315–16 Wiesel, Elie, 113 Wilson, E.


pages: 945 words: 292,893

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

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clean water, Colonization of Mars, Danny Hillis, digital map, double helix, epigenetics, fault tolerance, Fellow of the Royal Society, Filipino sailors, gravity well, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, kremlinology, Kuiper Belt, microbiome, phenotype, Potemkin village, pre–internet, random walk, remote working, selection bias, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, statistical model, Stewart Brand, supervolcano, the scientific method, Tunguska event, zero day, éminence grise

Some of the lumps might have been dense enough to undergo gravitational collapse. They could form black holes that instead of weighing what a star weighs could be a lot smaller.” “How small?” “I don’t think there’s a lower limit. But the point is that one of them could zip through space invisibly and punch all the way through a planet and out the other side. There used to be a theory that the Tunguska event was caused by one, but it’s been disproved.” Dinah knew about that, because her dad liked to talk about it: a huge explosion in Siberia, a hundred years ago, that had knocked down millions of trees out in the middle of nowhere. “That was a big deal,” Dinah said, “but not enough to blow up the moon.” “To blow up the moon would take a bigger one, going faster,” Ivy said. “Look, it’s just a hypothesis.”