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Space.com says Russian Alien Spaceship Claims Raise Eyebrows, Skepticism

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Space.com says Russian Alien Spaceship Claims Raise Eyebrows, Skepticism
[link to www.space.com]

Russian Alien Spaceship Claims Raise Eyebrows, Skepticism
By Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer
posted: 12 August 2004
02:39 pm ET

An expedition of Russian researchers claims to have found evidence that an alien spaceship had something to do with a huge explosion over Siberia in 1908. Experts in asteroids and comets have long said the massive blast was caused by a space rock.

The new ET claim is "a rather stupid hoax," one scientist said today. And it´s one with a rich history.

The latest claim was written up by news wires and was making the Internet rounds Thursday morning. According to Agence France Presse, the scientists say they´ve found "an extra-terrestrial device" that explains "one of the 20th Century´s biggest scientific mysteries," a catastrophe that flattened some 800 square miles of Siberian forest in a region called Tunguska.

Various other news reports told of a "technical device" and "a large block made with metal." The researchers were said to chip a piece off for laboratory study.

Most scientists think the Siberian devastation was caused by a large meteorite which, instead of hitting the ground, exploded above the surface.

´Plan to uncover evidence´

The Russian research team is called the Tunguska Space Phenomenon foundation and is led by Yuri Labvin. He said in late July that an expedition to the scene would seek evidence that aliens were involved.

"We intend to uncover evidences that will prove the fact that it was not a meteorite that rammed the Earth, but a UFO," Labvin was quoted by the Russian newspaper Pravda on July 29.

"I´m afraid this is a rather stupid hoax," said Benny Peiser, a researcher at Liverpool John Moores University in the UK. "The Russian team stupidly stated long before they went to Siberia that the main intention of their expedition was to find the remnants of an ´alien spaceship!´ And bingo! A week later, that´s what they claim to have found."

Peiser studies catastrophic events and related scientific processes and media reports. He runs an electronic newsletter, CCNet, which is among the most comprehensive running catalogues on the subject.

"It´s a rather sad comment on the current state of the anything-goes attitudes among some ´science´ correspondents that such blatant rubbish is being reported -- without the slightest hint of skepticism," Peiser told SPACE.com.

Longstanding mystery

Asteroid experts don´t have all the answers for what happened at Tunguska. There were few witnesses in the remote region and the explosion left no crater.

The Tunguska event in 1908 flattened 800 square miles of Siberian forest -- and the object didn´t even reach the ground. Astronomers say similar events will occur in the future, and one over a populated area would be devastating.
But the available evidence, along with modern computer modeling and general knowledge of space rocks, leaves little doubt in most scientific minds as to what happened.

Author Roy Gallant spent 10 years investigating the scene of the event for his book, "Meteorite Hunter: The Search for Siberian Meteorite Craters" (McGraw-Hill, 2002).

In an interview with SPACE.com when the book was published, Gallant said scientists are gathering "accumulating evidence tending to support the notion that the exploding object was a comet nucleus. This is the collective opinion of most Russian investigators; although some say they cannot confidently rule out a stony asteroid."

Peiser said there is a "general consensus" among experts worldwide that the culprit was an exploding comet or asteroid.

"Not surprisingly, the blast did not leave any remains of the object intact," Peiser said. "However, researchers claim to have found evidence of increased levels of cosmic dust particles in Greenland ice cores which are dated to 1908 and which they link to the Tunguska event of the same year."

Longstanding speculation

Speculation about aliens and Tunguska go way back. And there is a reason: No other visitor from space -- natural or otherwise -- has had such a well-documented impact on daily life in modern history.

The explosion on June 30, 1908 was equivalent to 20 million tons of TNT.

"Witnesses twenty to forty miles from the impact point experienced a sudden thermal blast that could be felt through several layers of clothing," writes Jim Oberg in "UFOs & Outer Space Mysteries" (Donning Press, 1984). The blast was recorded as an earthquake at several weather stations in Siberia."

In Europe, it didn´t get dark that night. People said they could read the newspaper by the light of the mysterious blast, Oberg reports. Telescope operators in America noticed degraded sky conditions for months.

No crater was found, and wild spdumb_bitchnsued.

Enter sci-fi

Struck by the similarity of Tunguska and Hiroshima decades later, a science fiction writer named Kazantsev wrote a story in which the Tunguska blast was the exploding nuclear power plant of a spaceship from Mars, according to Oberg.

A few Russian scientists took up the cause and claimed to find various bits of evidence -- never substantiated -- for a civilized alien explanation. Oberg wrote in 1984 that even then, as evidence built for a natural cause, a handful of "spaceship buffs seem to have grown more desperate, but no less effective, in corralling the public´s attention." He said annually some unsuspecting journalist would stumble on the claims and write about them, setting off a fresh round of public speculation.

On that front, little has changed since 1984.

Astronomer Philip Plait, author of the myth-debunking book Bad Astronomy (Wiley & Sons, 2002), agrees with Peiser that the Russian researchers intention for finding ET-evidence hurts their case.

"They are not undertaking a scientific expedition, that is, an unbiased investigation to see what happened," Plait said Thursday via e-mail. "They are going to try to prove their preconceived ideas. That´s not science, that´s religion. And it almost certainly means that they are more willing to ignore or play down any evidence that it was a comet or rock impact, while playing up anything they find consistent with their hypothesis."

Prove it

Whatever anyone believes, Plait points out that proof is what´s important.

"I am not saying they didn´t find an alien ship. I am saying that it´s a) unlikely in the extreme, and b) they are predisposed to make such claims, which means we need to be very skeptical, even more so than usual in such cases. If they provide sufficient evidence, then scientists are obligated to investigate, of course. But given everything I´ve read, their evidence to even consider a non-natural cause is pretty weak."

Plait has even thought about what evidence might be necessary. A chunk of debris would help, but not just any sort of material.

"It would need a weird ratio of isotopes, for examples, or clear evidence of long duration space travel," he said. "Even then they must be careful; manmade space debris rains down on Earth all the time."

Plait, a naturally skeptical person, is willing to wait and see.

"Let´s see what these guys bring back," he said. "In the end, it´s not what they can claim but what they can support with factual evidence that counts. The burden of proof is clearly -- and heavily-- on them."
Anonymous Coward
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11/14/2005 10:59 PM
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Re: Space.com says Russian Alien Spaceship Claims Raise Eyebrows, Skepticism
Explorers find UFO fragments in Tunguska meteorite area
08/10/2004 15:13
The meteorite flight culminated in the powerful blast up to 40 Mt of trotyl equivalent

Members of the scientific expedition of the Siberian state foundation Tunguska Space Phenomenon say they have managed to uncover blocks of an extraterrestrial technical device. The space body, which was later called the Tunguska meteorite, fell down on Earth on June 30th 1908, 65 kilometers off the Vanavara settlement, the Evenkiya republic.

The first expedition to study the Tunguska meteorite was organized in 1927. Professor Leonid Kulik headed the mission. However, explorers have never managed to discover any fragments of the celestial body.

The press service of the Evenkiya republic administration reported the expedition worked in the western part of the region in the summer of the current year. The mission´s itinerary was based on the results of the space footage analysis. Explorers believe they have discovered blocks of an extraterrestrial technical device, which crashed down on Earth on June 30th, 1908. In addition, expedition members found the so-called "deer" - the stone, which Tunguska eyewitnesses repeatedly mentioned in their stories. Explorers delivered a 50-kilogram piece of the stone to the city of Krasnoyarsk to be studied and analyzed.

It is generally believed a giant ball of fire flew above Central Siberia before the Tunguska meteorite blast. Scientists have analyzed hundreds of eyewitnesses´ stories and revealed a still inexplicable detail. Thunder-like sounds and incredible light effects were seen not only during and after the bolide flight, but also before it. Several eyewitnesses, including a political exile (a highly-educated individual), mentioned that in their stories. It is very hard to explain it with subjective mistakes, because such affirmations reiterate independently. Observers were located tens of kilometers far from the area of the fall. A ballistic wave could not create such a sound: it could remain behind the bolide, but it could never outdistance it. The only real explanation can be linked with powerful electromagnetic phenomena, albeit scientists have not devebunnyplete analysis of the issue from this point of view.

Another circumstance is tied with the direction of the body´s movement. On the ground of eyewitnesses´ testimonies collected in the 1920s and 1930s, scientists concluded the bolide had flown northwards from the south. The analysis of the woods destruction, though, testified to the westwards movement of the body from the east. It is noteworthy it is the direction that can be traced in eyewitnesses´ stories.

The discrepancy is evident. A lot of scientists have tried to explain the mysterious phenomenon using various approaches. It was particularly said several bolides had flown above the Siberian woods in 1908. This point of view seems to be rather unfounded - no eyewitness could see several bolides in one day. Another theory provoked a discussion in the scientific world, when professor F.Zigel proposed the meteorite maneuvered in the Earth´s atmosphere. It would be possible to discuss the theory only if the Tunguska meteorite was a man-caused catastrophe. The meteorite flight culminated in the powerful blast up to 40 Mt of trotyl equivalent.

Read the original in Russian: [link to science.pravda.ru] (Translated by: Dmitry Sudakov)
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11/14/2005 11:02 PM
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Re: Space.com says Russian Alien Spaceship Claims Raise Eyebrows, Skepticism
"No crater was found, and wild spdumb_bitchnsued."

Uhm, okay...
Anonymous Coward
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11/14/2005 11:11 PM
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Re: Space.com says Russian Alien Spaceship Claims Raise Eyebrows, Skepticism
I just cut & paste that article and i never changed a word, the original does not say "No crater was found, and wild spdumb_bitchnsued."

How freaken wierd is that, why did those letters change?