Physical Science - Other
Nikola Tesla on Time Magazine 1931

Tesla may have Set off the 1908 Tunguska Explosion

Nikola Tesla on Time Magazine 1931
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"Tesla may have Set off the 1908 Tunguska Explosion"
Caption: Nikola Tesla on Time Magazine 1931
Image by: TIME Magazine
© The copyrights of Time magazine are held by Time, Inc. Copyright was not renewed on this early issue

During the year of 1908 the quiet Siberian countryside was rocked by a blast more powerful than the atomic detonation set off over Hiroshima.

In literally seconds, 800 square miles of virgin forest lay splintered and flattened in the Tunguska region of Russia. The horrific blast eventually became known among investigators as the "Tunguska Event."

What caused such violent and widespread devastation? The most widely accepted theory amongst orthodox scientists is that a cometary or meteoric explosion occurred in the upper atmosphere. The resulting shock waves flattened everything below the explosion.

Yet, that explanation may be misleading. Other evidence exists that supports a different reason for the event.

And that evidence leads to a markedly different cause—a cause that is stunning: World famous inventor Nikola Tesla accidentally set off the explosion while testing a powerful energy broadcasting device. Later, Tesla would make oblique references to the technology he created as a 'death ray' and urged its use as a military weapon.

If the Tunguska event truly was man-made, it would seem to mesh with much of the eye-witness testimony gathered in the aftermath of the event.

This alternative theory has been promoted during the past several years by Oliver Nichelson and others. [PDF link to Nichelson white paper follows article.]

Testimony of Russian eye-witnesses

Accounts gathered by the Russian mineralogist Leonid Kulik, in his 1930 expedition to the site of the explosion are consistent enough on many details to be considered generally reliable. Most recalled a bluish-white cylinder of light in the sky followed by a series of concussive reports like thunder. A few reported the ground trembling as if dozens of freight trains ran underneath the ground. The significance of that is they felt the rumbling vibration coming from beneath the ground before the explosion.

These reports could all support a multi-billion watt energy pulse emerging from the ground as a bluish-white light of such intensity it outshone the sun. It was cylindrical in appearance and caused a series of thunderous reports such as lightning strikes create during violent electrical storms.

The Russian newspaper Krasnoyaretz reported on July 13, 1908 just two weeks after the event:

"Kezhemskoe village: An unusual atmospheric event was observed. At 7:43 a.m. the noise akin to a strong wind was heard. Immediately afterward a horrific thump sounded followed by an earthquake that literally shook the buildings as if they were hit by a large log or a heavy rock. The first thump was followed by a second and then a third. Then the interval between the first and the third thumps were accompanied by an unusual underground rattle, similar to a railway upon which dozens of trains are traveling at the same time. Afterward for 5 to 6 minutes an exact likeness of artillery fire was heard: 50 to 60 salvos in short, equal intervals, which got progressively weaker. After 1.5 - 2 minutes after one of the "barrages" six more thumps were heard, like cannon firing, but individual, loud and accompanied by tremors.

"The sky, at the first sight, appeared to be clear. There was no wind and no clouds. However upon closer inspection to the north, i.e. where most of the thumps were heard, a kind of an ashen cloud was seen near the horizon which kept getting smaller and more transparent and possibly by around 2 - 3 p.m. completely disappeared."

Other first-hand accounts from eyewitnesses corroborate the evidence investigators discovered when sifting through the debris of the Event's aftermath. Many described a darkened cloud that gradually flattened into a dish or saucer-shaped form. The cloud was pierced by an intense beam or shaft of light.

Testimony of witnesses: Kirensk, a farmer - "[I saw] a fiery pillar in the form of a spear"; Nizhne Karelinsk, a chicken breeder—"[It] turned into a fiery pillar and disappeared in a moment"; Another unnamed farmhand—"A forked tongue of flame broke through the cloud"; from a man identified only as Vanavera interviewed by the Krasnoyarsk newspaper—"A huge flame shot up and cut the sky in two."

There's something else that's odd that does not lend itself to supporting the popular theories of meteoric, asteroid or cometary airborne explosion. The day of the Tunguska Event the Irkutsk Observatory recorded magnetic anomalies that left a signature resembling those that are made by atomic blasts. The detection of the magnetic disturbances began about six minutes after the initial explosion over Siberia and continued for more than four hours. The blast signatures that the observatory recorded are almost identical to those recorded decades later that nuclear air bursts generate.

Many scientists have argued that if the Tunguska Event was caused by a meteor, asteroid or comet those signatures could not have been produced. It is recognized that some large meteors passing through the Earth's ionosphere have caused minor magnetic disruptions, none compares to the four hour plus magnetic disturbance generated by the Tunguska explosion.

Tesla and death rays

Nikola Tesla (1856 - 1943) is perhaps the greatest overlooked genius in American history. His inventions are legion and his investigations into the nature of electricity and magnetism are still finding applications today.

Among his many accomplishments, Tesla developed the technology that enabled television to become a reality; he enabled Edison's power plants to transmit electricity 1000 times farther than Edison's method; and he built and tested radio long before Marconi. In one of those flukes of history, Tesla—a perfectionist—finally brought his radio transceiver (far superior to Marconi's rudimentary device) to the U.S. Patent Office two days after Marconi's application. The patent, of course, was awarded to Marconi.

Among Tesla's many inventions was broadcast power. His devices enabled machinery to run without being plugged in to an electrical grid. In his world, the entire Earth was an electrical grid. While his broadcast power experiments made world news, his greatest project—one that later led to his infamous death ray experiments—was the broadcast tower in Colorado Springs. That tower was the precursor to his Wardenclyffe Tower project in Shoreham, Long Island, New York that was never fully completed.

In a letter to the New York Times dated April 1908 Tesla expanded upon his idea of destruction by electrical beams. He wrote, "When I spoke of future warfare I meant that it should be conducted by direct application of electrical waves without the use of aerial engines or other implements of destruction." Then he went on to add, "This is not a dream. Even now wireless power plants could be constructed by which any region of the globe might be rendered uninhabitable without subjecting the population of other parts to serious danger or inconvenience."

Tesla knew what he was talking about. He had constructed such towers and seen first-hand what they could do. They were capable of generating great destructive power arriving at the speed of light anywhere on the Earth.

Several theorists have proposed that Tesla was testing his wireless power generator during June of 1908. They point to some interesting facts to support their case. According to one, "Historical facts point to the possibility that this event was caused by a test firing of Tesla's energy weapon."

He draws this conclusion based on the fact that Tesla wrote at length about the powerfully destructive ability of his new energy transmitter. Based on the designs of the prototype that Tesla had built and tested in Colorado Springs, his Wardenclyffe complex and primary energy tower were a quantum leap beyond his original transmitter in Colorado.

Tesla's tireless effort to improve upon his generation of wireless energy continued to mount during 1900 to 1910. According to some historical students of Tesla's life they contend the brilliant inventor had reached a desperate crossroads in his life: facing mounting financial woes and at loggerheads with orthodox scientists, Tesla fell into a deep depression and suffered a nervous breakdown. Some theorize that in a dramatic bid to resurrect his formerly brilliant career, the inventor might have tested his giant transmitter to demonstrate its massive destructive ability.

The year most likely for that demonstration to have occurred? 1908.

Years later, during 1915 Tesla wrote: "It is perfectly practical to transmit electrical energy without wires and produce destructive effects at a distance. I have already constructed a wireless transmitter which makes this possible. [But] when unavoidable [it] may be used to destroy property and life. The art is already so far developed that the great destructive effects can be produced at any point on the globe, defined beforehand with great accuracy."

When Tesla wrote that in 1915 he seems to have made an admission of a test of the Tower. Although undocumented, Tesla did have the capability to transmit high energy wave frequencies generating catastrophic forces in excess of 10 megatons.

Directed wireless power transmitted through the globe and erupting with raw fury from the surface somewhere else is perfectly consistent with the evidence of the aftermath of the Tunguska Event and—more importantly—it was supported by eyewitness accounts of the catastrophe.

Lingering clues after the event

No professional or amateur astronomers anywhere on Earth reported a fireball. A gigantic booming sound was heard with multiple reports diminishing in intensity afterward; no debris fell from the sky. No impact crater has ever been found which is reasonable if an energy beam erupted upwards from beneath the ground. Yet, magnetic and electrical disturbances were reported for several days over Europe. The sky glowed like twilight all night long. Massive glowing "silvery clouds" were reported over northern and northeastern Russia.

All of this is consistent with significant electrical disturbances of the atmosphere which Tesla's massive Wardenclyffe Tower was quite capable of achieving.

Tesla claimed that his wireless transmitter achieved experimental power levels into the tens of billions of watts. That power, released within a time frame compressed to microseconds could easily have achieved the destructive energy of a multi-megaton explosion. As some have speculated, what Tesla had created was a diabolical device capable of transmitting the destructive power of hydrogen bombs. As he later suggested through his letters and newspaper interviews any location anywhere on the planet could be annihilated at the speed of light and with the mere flick of a switch.

Did Tesla destroy the Tunguska forest?

Could any of this actually be true? Was Tesla exaggerating the power of the Tower or was he under the veil of a self-delusional fantasy?

Recently, a team of electrical engineers conducted a wide-ranging analysis of Tesla's wireless transmission technology. His machine did not propagate radio waves as we understand them today. Instead, the Tower - and the prototype in Colorado Springs—transmitted electrostatic energy waves. Those waves could easily pass through the Earth. Little power would be loss during the pulse transmissions.

Did he power up and "fire off" a transmission towards Russia? According to some researchers, circumstantial evidence discovered amongst Tesla's notes, the chronology of his work and his financial upheavals point to the strong possibility that he did fire the wireless energy from the Tower at full power at least once and maybe on several other occasions at lower power levels.

The evidence, while not incontrovertible, does point towards the possibility that Tesla tested his wireless energy generator. If he did, the test would have occurred sometime around the middle of 1908. A likely target could have been the sparsely populated Polar Regions. Tunguska sits on the southernmost edge of the Arctic Circle.

So what caused the Tunguska Event - a meteor, asteroid, comet, methane gas explosion…or Nikola Tesla's Wardenclyffe Tower project? Each hypothesis has evidence for and against them.

Did Nikola Tesla really shake the world more than 100 years ago?

That question still awaits an answer.


Trees knocked over by the Tunguska blast

Photo of Tunguska Event damage

Siberian forest in the aftermath of the Tunguska Event

Photo of Nikola Tesla

Photo. The famous Tesla Tower erected in Shoreham, Long Island, New York was 187 feet high; the spherical top was 68 feet in diameter. Nikola Tesla constructed the tower for his "World Wireless" energy project.

Artist representation of Wardenclyffe Tower 

Oliver Nicholsen (PDF) - "Tesla's Wireless Power Transmitter and the Tunguska Explosion of 1908"

The Tesla Society

More about this author: Terrence Aym

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