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The Tunguska Mystery (Astronomers' Universe) [Hardcover]

by Vladimir Rubtsov, Edward Ashpole
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 17, 2009 0387765735 978-0387765730 2009
     The summer of 1908 witnessed the arrival of an unknown space body and an explosion over the Tunguska forest in Central Siberia that could have flattened any major city on Earth. Most people think that the Tunguska event was explained long ago by scientists who study meteorites - that it was either a stony meteorite or the icy core of a comet. But these assumptions are not so tenable as their supporters would like to think. The Tunguska event remains an enigma in its second century of existence as perplexing as it has been throughout the past century. And what Russian scientists have discovered in recent decades is both astounding and reliable, and will cause some eyebrows to be raised.
     The Tunguska Mystery is the first truly comprehensive and popular exposition of this century-long enigma written specially for western readers. It is objective and pays attention to both conventional and unconventional theories of the Tunguska space body's origin. Also, this is the only book written in the English language on Tunguska studies in the former Soviet Union and the new independent states that is entirely based on firsthand accounts of serious researchers directly engaged in these studies. The book's language is simple, The Tunguska Mystery is meant not only for specialists, but first of all for any reader who is interested in the fascinating mysteries of the world we live in.
      As a reader noted on, the book is "very well written. The illustrations and photographs help the reader to understand the great importance of this study. I found this book to be a fine addition to anyone's library. Who does not enjoy a good mystery... a true scientific mystery which may help us someday to protect our Earth from future Tunguska events. I wish to add that it was very enjoyable from beginning to end, with a touch of humor and many interesting facts!"

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Editorial Reviews


"This is arguably the best book you will find on this subject - thorough, balanced, detailed, in-depth and very well-written on top of everything else. If you're interested in the Tunguska mystery, start here. My hat is off to Rubtsov for his scholarship and lucid writing style." Michael Schmicker, "Journal of Scientific Exploration"

From the Author

What is Tunguska? This is a region in Central Siberia, where there are several rivers with this word in their names (all tributaries of the Yenisey). But also this is a short designation of one of the most enigmatic events that happened in the 20th century: the flight and explosion of a cosmic body of unknown nature.

The high-altitude explosion that occurred in this region on the morning of June 30, 1908, devastated almost 940 square miles of the taiga, twice as large as the territory of New York City, flattening some 30 million trees. If the Tunguska space body had fallen some five hours later then St-Petersburg would have found itself in the seat of its explosion and the city would have been in ruins. Minutes after the explosion a magnetic storm began, like the geomagnetic disturbances following nuclear explosions in the atmosphere. This was detected by the Magnetographic and Meteorological Observatory in Irkutsk. The storm lasted five hours.

In the former USSR almost every reading person knew the meaning of the word "Tunguska". Not so in the West. Although any Internet search engine will immediately react to the keyword "Tunguska" offering about three million web pages, I regularly meet with western people who have no notion of the Tunguska event. But even those who have heard something about it know little about the subject. Just that a space body fell in Siberia and leveled many trees. They believe that "science has proved" that it was either a stony asteroid or the icy core of a comet. In fact, the picture is not so simple...

The primary problem with the conventional interpretation of the Tunguska event is that there is no trace of either asteroidal or cometary material at the site of the explosion. Usually, authors of Tunguska hypotheses pay careful attention to this fact and try to build a mechanism to explain it, with varying degrees of success. But there is also a serious problem that is generally overlooked: the need to take into consideration all empirical data and to reconstruct the Tunguska event before building any models of it. Such a reconstruction is essential since the consequences of this event are many and varied. Unfortunately, many theorists who try to solve this enigma are aware of only two facts: in 1908 something flew over Siberia and this "something" exploded. Actually there is far more to this story. I personally researched this subject for 40 years and this book presents the wealth of information collected in Russia during the past 100 years.

Those wishing to find out what did in fact happen in Central Siberia in 1908 have to consider the whole body of relevant data; only then will a realistic model of the phenomenon be seen through the apparent chaos of this body of information. And, as the famous detective Sherlock Holmes used to say, "the more bizarre and grotesque an incident is the more carefully it deserves to be examined, and the very point which appears to complicate a case is, when duly considered and scientifically handled, the one which is most likely to elucidate it".

During the last century, the public has often read that "The Great Enigma of the Tunguska Meteorite Has Been Solved!" But such statements were premature. Only now do we have the opportunity to solve the problem by harnessing the discovered facts and building a correct picture of the Tunguska event. No more guessing and flawed hypotheses - just objectivity, empiricism and taking into account all reliable data...

Product Details

  • Series: Astronomers' Universe
  • Hardcover: 318 pages
  • Publisher: Copernicus; 2009 edition (September 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0387765735
  • ISBN-13: 978-0387765730
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #880,110 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
On June 30, 1908, on a sunny Siberian morning at 00 H 14 M GMT (7:14 am local time) something exploded in the skies over the Podkamennaya (Lower Stony) Tunguska River in what is now Krasnoyarsk Krai of Russia. The blast blew out windows 200 km away and was heard more than 800 km from the site. The seismic wave was recorded as far away as Germany and the atmospheric pressure wave was measured on barographs in London. The nearest eyewitnesses (30 km to the south-southeast) had their shelter blown away, their local area set afire, and reported a second sun in the sky. Approximately 2100 sq km of forest was radially flattened and then burned. At the epicentre, trees remained standing but were stripped of branches - burnt telegraph poles. The blast occurred at some 6 to 8 km altitude. There is no impact crater.

I became fascinated by the Tunguska Event nearly half a century ago, reading about it in 'Boy's Life' or some such and I am not alone, as it has become an enduring Global mystery, familiar to hundreds of millions, and a staple of popular western culture seeking the undefinable. A true X-File. This morning, (26 October 2009) a Google search on 'Tunguska event' turned up over 59,000 hits. Not surprising for an occurrence that has been the focus of intense curiosity, speculation and (as Dr. Rubtsov has detailed) an extraordinary investigative effort by Soviet and Russian scientists over the last hundred years.

Dr. Rubtsov's book is an encyclopedic compilation and a well written precis of the scientific records of that marvellous research. From the 1921 Kulik expedition searching for evidence of a meteorite impact (which was not found) to the Centenary conferences held in 2008 to discuss the event (there were more than half a dozen of them), Dr.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I highly recommend this book! September 11, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Even though I just recently received this book, after going through all the pages briefly, I find it to be very well written which shows the author's true dedication for detailed information, research and inquiries with colleagues. Along with the various hypothesis for this true life mystery, the illustrations and photographs help the reader to understand the great importance of this study. I found this book to be a fine addition to anyone's library. Who does not enjoy a good mystery...a true scientific mystery which may help us someday to protect our Earth from future Tunguska events?!

I wish to add, after reading this book, that it was very enjoyable from beginning to end. Within each chapter, the data and research was most detailed and understandable, along with a touch of humor and many interesting scientific facts!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Tunguska Mystery December 29, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is truly a one of a kind. Nowhere has such an in depth review and analysis been published under one cover prior to this. What makes this book unique is the plethora of publications that were unavailable to the west and written in Russian.

In reading this book, one relizes the complexity of this event. It was not just a extraterrestrial object that "exploded" over Siberia. There were a chain of events leading up to and including the final above ground explosion. The author goes thru great lengths to give a play by play account of what transpired in the minds of various researchers in analyzing the evidence and eliminating various causes.

The authors writting style draws you into the story to such a degree that one is compelled to keep reading, never thinking to put the book down until one is finished.

This is a tour de force of investigative reporting and scientific insite. Anyone even remotely aware or interested in cosmic impacts, meteoritics or just a great scientific mystery will definetly not be dissappointed. Cited are numerous field reports and scientific studies for those interested and able to read them in their original Russian.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The single best book on the subject August 24, 2011
This is the ONE book that addresses the "event" thoroughly and scientifically. Rubtsov goes to the primary (as in Russian) source materials and describes in no small detail what each expedition was looking for, what they found, and what it meant. As you might expect, there were political forces acting, and some scientists were shuffled off to the gulag or died in WWII. But the expeditions, and analyses, continue to this day. I was fascinated at the way Rubtsov states the hypotheses, lays out the physical evidence, reviews connections to previous results, and how that affected future observations and data gathering. It might be too much for some people, but I didn't want to be entertained; I was looking for some hard science facts, and this is the first time I've seen just how much has actually been done. If you're a total newcomer to the subject, or have your mind absolutely made up, this isn't the book for you. But if you're tired of the third and fourth-hand stories, many of them distortions or fiction, and are looking for a comprehensive and "no agenda" approach, FINALLY, here it is. Rubtsov rightfully brushes off armchair theorists - his goal is to lay out the physical evidence, and then describe what that evidence means to each hypothesis: stony meteor, iron meteor, ballistic blast, explosive blast, dirty-snowball comet, icy-rock comet, "cosmic snowflake", abnormal earthquake, antimatter, black hole, you name it and it gets its day in court. Just the facts, too. THIS is the way science texts should be written. Highly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Book!!!
Just finished reading this book and I was amazed at the amount of information in it. I never realized the Tunguska Event of 1908 was still being looked into today. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Anna Dobritt
5.0 out of 5 stars Tunguska
This book answers many of my long standing questions. It is specific enough to cover technical issues. It portrays a good grasp of the geography and hydrology of the region. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Scott M. Kruse
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
I found this book by chance while browsing on the Springer website for scientific articles about Tunguska. Read more
Published 24 months ago by blackschorl
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating!
The great explosion over Tunguska in 1908 has long been an issue of interest to me. This book by Dr Rubtsov is however by far the best I have come across. Read more
Published on April 7, 2012 by Frithiof Bjorn
5.0 out of 5 stars well written and well researched
this is probably the best written and researched book on the tunguska mystery. mr. rubtsov painstaking goes through all the years of research, the hundreds of scientists,... Read more
Published on August 26, 2011 by Joseph L. Kolb
5.0 out of 5 stars The Real Tunguska - A Must Read
I had heard of the "Tunguska Meteorite" numerous times via magazines, books, and TV documentaries. It turns out much of that information lies somewhere between unintentionally... Read more
Published on August 8, 2011 by M. LaPlante
5.0 out of 5 stars Observations on the Tunguska 'explosion'
On 30 June 2008 something happened in Siberia near the Tunguska river. An enormous explosion levelled 2000 square km of wood and a fire erupted. Read more
Published on August 5, 2011 by P. R. Wesselius
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and educational
What a revelation this book has been! Having gained piecemeal information over the years about the extraordinary, unexplained explosion over Tunguska, Siberia, in 1908, I was keen... Read more
Published on May 29, 2011 by John Power
5.0 out of 5 stars Tunguska
This a great book which examines the major theories attempting to explain one of the most interesting mysteries in history. Read more
Published on February 14, 2011 by Robert Armstrong
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, Full of Information, Written by a Scientist Who Has Been...
I've been fascinated by the Tunguska mystery ever since I first heard of it, 30 or more years ago. Here in the States, the only information that comes our way is scanty, and... Read more
Published on February 4, 2011 by Vivian Wells
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