I started out to write about parabolic coordinates and the chain rule this morning, but this was too much fun to resist. As I'm sure you've all seen over the last few days, a meteor came down over Russia last week. Apparently the conspiracy theories have already started to crop up. This got me thinking about the last Russian meteor with conspiracy theories, the Tunguska meteor strike.
The Tunguska Conspiracy
The story goes like this. Tesla had realized that he was going to have to tear down Wardenclyffe, his ambitious project on Long Island to broadcast power to the world for free (picture 1).
He had time to make one last demonstration using the apparatus that the world would notice. He told Admiral Byrd at a cocktail party, "When you get to the North Pole, look for my calling card." Admiral Byrd saw nothing, and the whole event faded into obscurity, sort of. Decades later, in the 1970's Russia finally released information on the Tunguska meteor strike, an event that literally knocked down miles of forest in Siberia. The Tesla conspiracy buffs all cheered claiming that this was in fact Tesla's message to Admiral Byrd. He'd meant to fire his power antenna at Wardenclyffe and hit the North Pole. He'd mis-aimed. He hit Tunguska instead!
This always seemed easy enough to disprove. Just stretch a string across a globe from Long Island through the North Pole and see if you wind up in Tunguska. This morning inspired by the new meteor strike, I finally tried the experiment. Here are the results (picture 2).
As you can see, a line from Wardenclyffe to Tunguska completely misses the North Pole.
Tesla Conspiracy with Time Travel
So, Tunguska didn't work out, but what about the location of the new meteor strike, Chelyabinsk, Russia? What if Tesla's energy beam had also opened a time warp and wound up coming out in 2013? A line drawn form Chelyabinsk to Wardenclyffe is shown below (picture 3).
We get yet another clean miss with respect to the north pole, both the geographic and the magnetic north poles.
The next map shows the paths where the 'energy beam' would have hit had it been aimed through either of the north poles (picture 4).
So, having dispelled the Tesla vs. Tunguska and invented and then dispelled the Tesla vs. Chelyabinsk conspiracy theory, there I only had one last thing I wanted to check. If you drew a line from Chelyabinsk over the north pole, where would it land? The first interesting thing that came up was that the line goes right between the magnetic and geographic north poles as it heads for the opposite hemisphere (picture 5).
Now, all that's left is to follow the line on down to the surely innocuous location on the other side of the earth. But..... and I'm really sorry, (sort of)... here's where it lands (picture 6)
That's right, it comes down roughly 70 miles to the west of Area 51. Go figure.