On June 30, 1908, there was a massive explosion in the skies over Tunguska, Russia. Here’s how it played out in the Real World, according to Wikipedia:
The Tunguska event was a large explosion, caused by an asteroid or comet, which occurred near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in what is now Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia, at about 07:14 KRAT (00:14 UT) on June 30, 1908. The explosion occurred at an altitude of 5–10 kilometres (3–6 mi) at 60.886°N, 101.894°E. It is classified as an impact event even though the object is believed to have burst in the air rather than hit the surface. Different studies have yielded widely varying estimates of the impacting object's size, on the order of 60 m (200 ft) to 190 m (620 ft). It is the largest impact event on or near Earth in recorded history.
It is estimated that the Tunguska explosion knocked down some 80 million trees over an area of 2,150 square kilometres (830 sq mi), and that the shock wave from the blast would have measured 5.0 on the Richter scale. An explosion of this magnitude would be capable of destroying a large metropolitan area, but due to the remoteness of the location, no fatalities were documented. This event has helped to spark discussion of asteroid impact avoidance.
But as I pointed out, that’s the Real World.
Tunguska has been invoked in several TV shows and I’ve added two more - ‘Batman’ & ‘Saturday Night Live’ - to create the background for one of my favorite villains on ‘Batman’. Here are the official references to Tunguska (from Wikipedia) that can be used in the world of Earth Prime-Time…..
- "Listening to Fear", a fifth-season episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, involves a meteor impact, thought to be the newest in a series dating back to the twelfth century.Willow Rosenberg notes that "the most recent meteoritic anomaly was the Tunguska blast in Russia in 1917", getting the date wrong by nine years and ascribing it to the year of the Bolshevik Revolution. She also appears to mispronounce the place name as "Tungusta."
- In the first season episode "Dalek" from the revived series of Doctor Who, a cure for the common cold was found in 'the Russian crater'.
- In the last episode of the fifth series of Peep Show, Jeremy joins a cult called the New Wellness Centre that purports to derive its knowledge from gold plates obtained from the Tunguska site.
- In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "That Which Survives", after the landing party experiences an unusually large seismic event, Sulu begins to recount the Tunguska event as a possible cause for the quake they experienced, only to be cut off by Kirk, who says that, "If I wanted a Russian history lesson, I would have brought Mr. Chekov."
- In a two-episode story arc of The X-Files ("Tunguska" and "Terma"), the Tunguska incident was purported to be caused by an asteroid impact. Fox Mulder traveled with Alex Krycek to the site of the impact, where they discovered a military installation mining the rock and experimenting with the black oil found inside, which contained a microbial form of alien life capable of possessing a human body.
- The Sarah Jane Adventures episode "Enemy of the Bane" centers around possession of an alien artifact known as "The Tunguska Scroll
- In the Doctor Who episode In the Forest of the Night, the Doctor mentions the Tunguska event as an example of where rapid tree growth helped save humanity.