Friday, July 4, 2008

A Day For Big BIG Explosions

Happy Independence Day! (and, may I add, I'm glad to be back to my blogging routine!)

As I write this, the night's first fireworks are exploding around my home. Yes, today is the day that pyromaniacs dream of all year long, when they legally get to set off explosives and display them for all to see. Cool.

Oh yeah, and it's the country's birthday. Yada yada yada.

Actually, being hyper-patriotic, this day means a great deal to me. My flags are out, and I'm thinking about those I consider to be national heroes: people like my niece who are fighting for, or have fought for, our country's national interests and safety (though, may I add, the war in Iraq has little perceivable interest for our country in either regard), and people who are exercising their right to freedom of speech and democracy, like myself, by publicly opposing our President in his attempts to tear down those rights (or the separation of church and state, or his trampling of people's right to privacy, the Geneva Convention, environmental consciousness, etc etc).

But I digress. Let's get back to the intoxicating topic of things that go BOOM in the sky.

Last Monday, June 30, was the 100th anniversary of the Tunguska Event:

Yes, a century ago in 1908, just after 7 AM in the Tunguska wilderness of Siberia, a massive meteor exploded several kilometers above the surface, releasing the equivalent energy of 185 Hiroshima bombs, leveling 800 square miles of forest.

Now THAT'S fireworks!

Due to the remote location and the state of science and communications of the period, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the explosion. Enough gaps, at least, to lead to the occasionally wacko interpretation as to the cause of the event, everything from mini-black holes to UFO's (see my previous blog post on one, HERE, which also talked about how one of the meteorite fragments had gone missing from storage). Personally, I'll stick with the scientific explanation.

So I hope you've taken the chance to go outside to eat a hot dog, drink some brew, and set off some sparklers, bottle rockets, fountains, and other assorted explosives to celebrate the founding of our great nation. And while you're at it, ponder how, a century ago, one particular explosion lit up the sky from Siberia strong enough to read newspapers at midnight in China and be read by sensitive barometers as far away as England.

Happy 4th of July!

Image taken from HERE.