The Incredible Journey of a Black Hole

Mini black holes are still very much a figment of scientists' imagination, but they provide such a neat and fitting explanation for the Tunguska event that this theory has become the part of the folklore now associated with the mysterious fireball. In 1973 the American theoretical physicists A.A. Jackson IV and Michael P. Ryan Jr said that, since 'no crater and no meteorite material that can unambiguously be associated with the event have ever been found', a mini black hole could explain the Tunguska event.

In an article in Nature, Jackson and Ryan suggested that, after passing through the atmosphere, the mini black hole would have entered the Earth. Because of the rigidity of the rock there would have been no underground shock wave. With its high velocity, the black hole would have passed straight through the Earth in about fifteen minutes and exited through the North Atlantic, causing shock waves in the ocean and the atmosphere.

The mini black hole was much smaller than the full stop at the end of this sentence, but it had the mass of a large asteroid and quite a strong gravitational field for some distance from the body. As it passed through the air it became very hot, producing a deep blue trail of particles. Jackson and Ryan based their argument on the assumption that the damage caused by the Tunguska fireball was equivalent to a 2-megaton nuclear explosion. They estimated that the total energy in the black hole's blast wave would be within the same range.

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