Why must we find the answer

The Tunguska explosion was a cataclysm that has happened countless times in Earth's history, and it is sure to happen again - that's what Academician Nikolai Vasilyev (1930-2001) believed. 'Had such a cosmic body exploded over Europe instead of the desolate region of Siberia, the number of human victims would have been 500,000 or more, not to mention the ensuing ecological catastrophe', he said. 'The Tunguska episode marks the only event in the history of civilization when Earth has collided with a truly large celestial object, although innumerable such collisions have occurred in the geological past. And many more are bound to occur.'

He stressed that continued investigations of the Tunguska event were important, simply because it would happen again. Only by knowing what the object was, and by knowing its devastating biological consequences, will the scientific and medical communities be in a position to deal with such a cataclysm in the future. 'Today the

Tunguska problem can be considered as an important part of the larger problem of possible collision of Earth with near-Earth asteroids', Vasilyev said. The most important question for us is: can it happen again? We'll never know the answer.

Like the riddle of the death of the dinosaurs, the Tunguska mystery still eludes scientists. Many believe that this cosmic mystery would finally be solved only if we found ponderable fragments of the object. At least, let's try to guess whodunit.

Chapter Eleven

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