It is with immense sadness I learnt today of the passing of Russian scientist Vladimir Rubtsov at the age of 64 after an illness. We corresponded on quite a number of occasions over many years. To his family and friends my sincere condolences. We have lost a great researcher and a real gentleman.
extraordinary happened over the Tunguska forest in central Siberia on June 30
Much has been published about what
may have happened.
In terms of
accessible books outside of Russia there is limited material.
1977 saw the publication of 3 books – “The
Fire Came By” by John Baxter and Thomas Atkins, “The Tungus Event” by Rupert
Furneax, and “Tunguska – Cauldron of Hell” by Jack Stonely.
More recently (2005) Surendra Verma’s “The
Tunguska Fireball” explored the mystery of the massive explosion, providing a
good overview of the mystery but concludes that the jury is still out.
2009 we have the publication of Vladimir Rubtsov excellent book “The Tunguska
Mystery” aided by the editing efforts of Edward Ashpole (author of the admirable
“The UFO Phenomena” (1995)). Dr. Rubtsov a Russian scientist received his Ph.D
degree from the Institute of Philosophy of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR
(Moscow, Russia) with his 1980 doctoral thesis “Philosophical and
Methodological Aspects of the Problem of Extraterrestrial Civilizations” the
first of its kind in the former USSR.
Dr. Rubtsov also had published in 1991 “UFOs and Modern Science” (with
Y. V. Platov, through "Nauka" ("Science", the publishing
house of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow) as an introduction to the
UFO problem for the Soviet scientific community.
He advised me, “We hoped (UFOs and Modern
Science) would be just the first work in a series and therefore did not try to
cover in the book all aspects of the UFO problem. Alas, immediately after it
was published, the Soviet Union disintegrated and all hopes for serious work in
this direction have dissolved too. Now science in Russia and Ukraine is trying
to survive, rather than to develop. Nevertheless, I think that one day in the
future the situation may change. Individual interest to the UFO phenomenon
among our scientists still remains considerable.”
Rubtsov researched the Tunguska mystery for 35 years and his Tunguska book’s
strength lies in this dedication and persistence.
Unlike the western books that preceded it
“The Tunguska Mystery” uniquely presents the vast amount of research done in
Russia on the subject over the last 100 years.
It is extensively anchored in Russian research much of it unseen by
and illustrated it represents an exceptional presentation of the facts and
controversy uncovered by Russian researchers.
Dr. Rubtsov also addresses significant western efforts on the subject,
such as the blast magnitude computation modelling from Sandia National Lab
scientists Drs. Boslough and Crawford.
These argued for a lower magnitude event than previously accepted, but
Rubtsov highlights that such arguments are of limited value until they properly
consider the topography of the Tunguska site.
The Sandia scientists plan to try to undertake this work.
Rubtsov makes a critical point arguing, “the members of the Tunguska
research community in Russia, Ukraine, and other CIS countries, although far
from uniform in their viewpoints on the phenomenon … do have a grasp of the
real contents of this problem, whereas their Western colleagues are as a rule
dealing with its simplified and perhaps distorted pictures. Too many well-established facts have been
forgotten, too much information is ignored, lots of important publications
remain unknown in the West – partly because of the language barrier. Besides, scientific overspecialization, so
typical in this day and age, hampers the interdisciplinary perception of the
Tunguska phenomenon. At best, the researcher knows that there is in Siberia an
area of levelled forest, having at the same time no idea of other Tunguska
traces – both larger (the light burn and the geomagnetic storm) and smaller
(from genetic mutations to the paleomagnetic anomaly) or of other “details” of
(Rubtsov, page 302)
the consensus of mainstream western science that the Tunguska event has been
explained as due to a meteorite, asteroid or similar natural space object, Dr.
Rubtsov has richly argued with compelling data that such certainty is not
Instead he asks, “Why has
such a rich set of empirical information not yet been transformed into an
accurate and rational theoretical scheme explaining this phenomenon? … Logic,
discipline of reasoning, ability to match theoretical considerations with
factual material – all these are important in the next stage of scientific
investigation, the stage of testing the proposed ideas.”
303) I found it fascinating and very informative to follow Dr. Rubtsov’s
consideration of even exotic explanations such as “artificial” objects, even
extraterrestrial ones. Even though like the mainstream “explanations” he argues
they cannot yet be considered as “final solutions.”
The critical process elaborated in this
book is the development of “the multidisciplinary model of the Tunguska
The necessity of correctly
determining the true answer that fits that model is critical.
Indeed it is a matter of survival. Another
Tunguska style event would be potentially devastating if it occurred over a
Rubtsov has provided a potent distillation of the facts, particularly the vast
body of Russian data gathered over the last century, much of which is poorly understood
by the West.
This alone makes the book a
very worthwhile contribution to our comprehension of the extraordinary Tunguska
event of 1908.
I enjoyed this book very
much, but I’m sure given the passion and extent of the Tunguska debate so far,
the debate and controversy will continue.
The type of focus called for by
Dr. Rubtsov and proper consideration of the issues and detail described
in his book will help steer us closer to that much sort after but so far
elusive “final solution” of the Tunguska enigma.