The Tunguska Event: NBSE class 9 Alternative English answers

The Tunguska Event NBSE class 9 Alternative English answers
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Get questions, answers, notes, and solutions of the chapter The Tunguska Event which is a part of class 9 Alternative English syllabus for students studying under the Nagaland Board of School Education. However, these notes should be used only for references and additions/modifications should be made as per the requirements.


The chapter The Tunguska Event by Carl Sagan discusses a peculiar event that happened in the early morning hours of June 30, 1908, in Central Siberia. The particular event was a giant ball of fire that had come down from the sky and supposedly plunged into the surface of the Earth. The explosion was so powerful that it could have been mistaken for a nuclear explosion. However, when scientists and researchers tried to find a crater that could have formed because of the explosion and impact, they could not find anything like that, which was strange.

The chapter tries to explain what might have happened that day and why there is no such crater. The writer gives various accounts of people who have witnessed the phenomenon. But it fails to give a proper explanation of what it could have been. There are only assumptions and theories, but nothing certain.

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Explain with reference to context

1. There seems to be only one explanation consistent with all the facts…
Choose the correct answer.
What do the scientists think is the most plausible answer to what happened the night of the Tunguska Event?

Answer: c. A piece of a comet hit the Earth

2. Could a rare but natural event, the impact of a sizable cometary fragment trigger a nuclear war?
a. What is the event that is mentioned here?
b. Why would it trigger a nuclear war?
c. What does Sagan suggest we do in order to prevent a nuclear war?

Answer: (a) The Tunguska event is mentioned here.

(b) Because men may assume the catastrophe as a nuclear strike and try to retaliate, which may take the world on the path of destruction.

(c) Carl Sagan suggests we understand comets, collisions, and catastrophes a little better than we do in order to prevent a nuclear war.

Answer these questions briefly

1. What does Sagan mean when he says, “it’s all a matter of time-scale”, in relation to catastrophe?

Answer: When he says, “It’s all a matter of time scale,” Carl Sagan means that evidence gathered from other planets indicates catastrophes like these certainly happen. It may happen now or later. Something that seems impossible might be inevitable in a million years. It is all a matter of time scale.

2. How does a natural event such as these simulate nuclear explosions?

Answer: Natural events such as these simulate nuclear explosions. When such explosions take place, they not only destroy a large area of land, like a megaton nuclear explosion, but they can also form mushroom clouds and eject dust into the atmosphere, but unlike nuclear explosions, there is no radiation fallout.

Answer these questions

1. What are the three explanations offered for the Tunguska Event? Why are these explanations not plausible?

Answer: The three explanations offered for the Tunguska event are:

I. It was caused by a piece of hurtling antimatter which annihilated on contact with the ordinary matter of the Earth, disappearing in a flash of gamma rays.
II. It was caused by a mini black hole which passed through the earth in Siberia and out the other side.
III. It was a spaceship of some unimaginably advanced extraterrestrial civilisation in desperate mechanical trouble, crashing into a remote region of an obscure planet.

These explanations are not plausible because of the absence of radioactivity at the impact site, the absence of records of atmospheric shock waves showing a hint of an object booming out of the North Atlantic later that day, and the absence of any trace of a spaceship at the site.

2. Describe the cause of the Event.

Answer: The Tunguska event was probably caused by an icy cometary fragment about a hundred metres across, the size of a football field, weighing a million tonnes, moving at about 30 kilometres per second, 70,000 miles per hour.

Think and answer

1. The government of Russia under the Czars could not be bothered to investigate so trivial an event, which, after all, had occurred far away, among the backward Tungus people of Siberia.

a. What seems to be the writer’s tone in the first part of this sentence? Under what circumstances do you think the government might have investigated the event?

Answer: The writer’s tone seems dismissive and condescending towards the seriousness of the event and the location where it occurred. The government might have investigated the event if it had happened closer to a more politically or economically significant area, or had it posed an immediate threat to the ruling class or general population.

b. Do you think the event that had happened was trivial? Do you think the writer considered it trivial? Explain your answers.

Answer: No, the event was not trivial as it involved a significant explosion that affected a large area and had observable effects even at great distances. The writer does not consider the event trivial; rather, he criticizes the government’s lack of response, highlighting its serious nature and the government’s disregard.

2. A strange scenario: a small comet hits the Earth, as millions of them have, and the response of our civilisation is promptly to self-destruct.

a. Explain this line briefly. Would you also describe this scenario as ‘strange’?

Answer: This line refers to the ironic and paradoxical nature of human responses to natural events that are perceived as threats. Yes, I would describe this scenario as ‘strange’ because it illustrates an overreaction to a natural event that leads to an even more catastrophic outcome.

b. What would be a more natural response to an event like a comet hitting the Earth?

Answer: A more natural response to a comet hitting the Earth would involve scientific investigation, public awareness campaigns, and possibly international cooperation to assess and mitigate any potential threats, rather than jumping to catastrophic conclusions.

3. What has been described in the text as ‘an entertainment in the heavens’? Imagine the event (or look at pictures of such an event) and come up with your own term to describe it.

Answer: Meteor showers have been described in the text as ‘an entertainment in the heavens’. Imagining or viewing pictures of this event, one might describe it as a “celestial ballet” or “starry performance,” highlighting its visually spectacular and gracefully unfolding nature.

Going Beyond

1. In our daily life, what is the danger of becoming ‘complacent, relaxed and unconcerned’? Share your views in an essay of 150 words.

Answer: In the context of the Tunguska Event of 1908, complacency, relaxation, and unconcern manifest as dangerous attitudes. This event, an enormous explosion in Siberia caused by what is believed to be a comet impact, illustrates the peril of ignoring the less immediate, yet potentially catastrophic, threats from our cosmos. Carl Sagan’s narration of this event underlines how the vastness of cosmic time scales and the infrequency of such disasters can lull humanity into a false sense of security.

The Tunguska Event’s aftermath was profound, impacting not only the immediate environment but also observable across continents. Yet, the initial reaction was dismissive, particularly from the Russian government of the time, illustrating a perilous disinterest in understanding or preparing for such phenomena. This complacency could have fatal consequences, as demonstrated by Sagan’s speculative scenario where a similar event might be misinterpreted as a nuclear attack, potentially triggering an unwarranted nuclear war.

Understanding and preparing for rare but impactful natural events is crucial. It requires a shift from complacency to proactive engagement with our planet’s place in the cosmos. Recognizing the reality of these threats is essential for the survival and advancement of humanity.

Extra MCQs

1. When did the Tunguska Event occur?

A. June 30, 1908 B. July 30, 1908 C. June 15, 1908 D. July 15, 1908

Answer: A. June 30, 1908

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10. What natural event shares the same date as the Tunguska Event, thus possibly linking it to the cause?

A. Leonid meteor shower B. Perseid meteor shower C. Beta Taurid meteor shower D. Geminid meteor shower

Answer: C. Beta Taurid meteor shower

Extra questions and answers

1. What are the environmental and atmospheric effects observed following the Tunguska Event?

Answer: Following the Tunguska Event, significant environmental and atmospheric effects were noted. A vast area of forest, approximately 2,000 square kilometres, was flattened, and thousands of trees were burned in a flash fire near the impact site. The event also produced a substantial atmospheric shock wave that circled the Earth twice. In addition, the atmosphere contained so much fine dust that for two days after the event, scattered light allowed people to read newspapers at night in London, 10,000 kilometres away.

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10. How did the Russian government initially respond to the Tunguska Event, and what does this suggest about their priorities at the time?

Answer: Initially, the Russian government under the Czars did not investigate the Tunguska Event, dismissing it as a trivial occurrence far from the political and cultural centers. This response suggests that the government’s priorities did not include distant scientific phenomena, especially those occurring in remote or less economically significant regions of the country. The lack of immediate response highlights a disregard for the potential broader implications of such events.

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