The meteor that exploded over Russia Friday was actually one of the country’s satellites shot down by the U.S. in a fit of Cold War-era aggression, or so goes one of the various conspiracy theories surrounding the Earth’s most recent and noteworthy encounter with an extraterrestrial object.
Despite broad scientific consensus, including among NASA and its Russian equivalent, Roscosmos, that the meteor was, in fact, a meteor and exploded under intense physical pressures after entering our planet’s atmosphere at a speed of at least 33,000 mph, wild theories about what happened continue to circulate.
The simplest narrative is that the meteor was really a meteor but that the Russian government used an unbelievably advanced air defense system to shoot it down.
The fastest missiles in development are designed to travel at nearly 3,800 mph, already beyond the interceptive capabilities of current air defense systems.
A Russian media outlet reported that the meteor had been intercepted by the military, though the regional emergency agency denied the claim, according to Russia Today.
A more fanciful theory claims that the blast was not created by any space rock but by a top-secret weapon fired by the U.S.
“Those were not meteorites, it was Americans testing their new weapons,” Russian nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky said, as quoted by the Atlantic Wire.
"[U.S. Secretary of State] John Kerry wanted to warn [Russian Foreign Minister Sergei] 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 added.
While there’s no better way to gain diplomatic leverage than by firing off a space death ray, this far-fetched claim is more likely to turn up in the next "James Bond" film and that’s even a stretch.
Lastly, there are some that believe that the meteor explosion was an ominous sign of something more catastrophic to come.
According to an online poll by the Ridus news agency, 51 percent of respondents believed that the meteor has foreshadowed an alien invasion, the Washington Post reported.
Even former baseball player and notorious steroid cheat Jose Canseco had his own theory -- he blamed the North Koreans.
On his Twitter account, Canseco declared, “No way was that a meteor in Russia today... North Korea, do the math... Long-range test deal with Russia operation meteor… We have lots of enemies, don’t underestimate them.”
But it shouldn’t come as any surprise that sensational questions are being posed over the Internet or that people are answering them, perhaps even with sincerity.
Then again, just because it’s sensational, it doesn’t mean that aliens aren’t really coming. The truth is out there.
Ryan Villarreal reports on foreign affairs with a focus on Latin America. He also covers human rights and environmental issues worldwide....