Of course there are space truthers. What, you thought a Friday full of mysterious meteorites crashing into Siberia and and gigantic asteroids speeding by Earth wasn't going to end this way? Come on now. Everybody knows the wingnuts and jokesters of the Internet won't let science and government confirmation get in the way of a new Cold War and/or a Michael Bay movie come true. Here are some of the, shall we say, alternative explanations flying around Russian social media concerning that thing that flew over Central Russia early Friday — accompanied by, you know, actual reality.
Theory No. 1: The Meteor Was Shot Down!
First of all, like Bill Nye said, it's a meteorite. And what's more badass than a 10-ton meteorite screaming towards the Ural Mountains and leaving deafening sonic booms in its YouTube-friendly path? Obviously the only thing more badass than that would be a missile knocking it out of the sky. That would be straight-up Hollywood-friendly. And that's what local media claimed early Friday:
The local newspaper Znak reported the meteorite was intercepted by an air defense unit at the Urzhumka settlement near Chelyabinsk. Quoting a source in the military, it wrote a missile salvo blew the meteorite to pieces at an altitude of 20 kilometers.
Regnum news agency quoted a military source who claimed that the vapor condensation trail of the meteorite speaks to the fact that the meteorite was intercepted by air defenses.
That's pretty sexy stuff, and about one blonde Bruce Willis away from being a pretty successful summer blockbuster. But that did not happen. Or, rather, Russia's defense ministry say this didn't happen. An update on Russia Today's live blog reads:
12:24 GMT: The military had nothing to do with the aerial meteorite explosion, the Urals Emergency Ministry said: "Russia's defense ministry took no action connected to the incident. No aircrafts has been registered in the air at the given period of time."
And even if Russia's defense ministry really did aim and fire at the meteorite, the best they could have done was to perhaps change its course. "They [meteorites] are not flying like airplanes and missiles that air defenses target. Shooting them will not change their speed or trajectory — at best, a missile impact might change its direction somewhat or shatter it into more pieces," writes Wired's Spencer Ackerman. Plus, this was one surprise meteor.
Conclusion: Russia's military didn't shoot the meteorite, and you can't shoot a meteorite anyway.
Theories No. 2 & 3: The Meteor Was Actually a Satellite Shot Down by America — or a Weapon Fired by America!
"More wide eyed theorists have suggested that the object may not have been a meteor at all and could have been a satellite that was shot down, or some form of kinetic bombardment weapon aimed at Russia," write the conspiracy-lovin' folks over at Infowars, the site helmed by noted myth propagandist and best Piers Morgan guest of all time, Alex Jones.
Controversial Russian parliament member Vladimir Zhirinovsky went even further, insisting that the meteorite was actually a weapon fired by the U.S. at Russia:
“Those were not meteorites, it was Americans testing their new weapons," [Controversial Liberal leader Vladimir] Zhirinovsky confessed to journalists. "[US Secretary of State] John Kerry wanted to warn [Russia’s Foreign Minister] Lavrov on Monday, he was looking for Lavrov, and Lavrov was on a trip. He meant to warn Lavrov about a provocation against Russia,” he said.
NASA and its Russian equivalent, Roscosmos, have both confirmed that this was, in fact, a meteorite. And Roscosmos hasn't been shy in the past in blaming or insinuating that the United States has something to do with failing Russian satellites. In January 2012, when their Phobos-Grunt spacecraft failed, a Roscosmos official shifted blame entirely off Russia and right back onto, like, the Pentagon: "We don't want to accuse anybody, but there are very powerful devices that can influence spacecraft now," Roscosmos director Vladimir Popovkin said. "The possibility they were used cannot be ruled out." If there was any hint that the U.S. was, for some reason, launching new weapons over Russian airspace and/or shooting down dodgy Russian satellites, that guy probably would have let us know — or at least he wouldn't have confirmed what actual scientists are saying.
We're also starting to get photos from where the meteorite crashed. So we could, if the spirit moved us, conceivably go look in the crater for fallen satellite parts:
No reports of Siberian space junk today, either.
Conclusion: Alex Jones will be Alex Jones, and crazy Russian politicians still like accusing America of Cold War-era tactics with 21st-century space weapons.
Theory No. 4: God Sent the Meteor!
"From the Scriptures, we know that the Lord often sends people signs and warnings via natural forces," Metropolitan of Chelyabinsk and Zlatoust Feofan said in a statement picked up and translated by Russian news agency Ria Novosti on Friday. "I think that not only for the Ural [regions] residents, but for the whole of humanity, the meteorite is a reminder that we live in fragile and unpredictable world," the clergyman added.
Conclusion: The world is, in fact, quite unpredictable.
Theory No. 5: The Dragons Are Coming!
While 51 percent of Russians in one poll think an alien invasion has begun, we're pretty sure 100 percent of Game of Thrones fans are watching the skies for dragons:
Conclusion: Today's meteorite is obviously stellar news if you are a Targaryen. And, clearly, this theory only applies to those in Westeros.