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Solving a Mystery of 400 Years-An Explanation to the "explosion" in Downtown Beijing in the Year of 1626

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Solving a Mystery of 400 years-An Explanation to the "Explosion" in downtown Beijing in the year of 1626

Guojian Liang,Feicheng City Meteorology Bureau,Shandong Province,China

Lang Deng, Ph. D,DuPont Pioneer,Iowa, USA



This paper aims at finding the cause of the disaster at Wanggongchang in Beijing on May 30th, 1626, which led to over 20,000 death and part of Beijing being destroyed. In addition, many "mysterious" things came with the disaster such as many dead losing their heads and being naked, clothes found miles way. Through related data collection and compilation, analysis and integration, from the disaster's type and form as well as the characteristics of all phenomena that came with it, we found that this is caused by a small scale powerful convection weather system-a tornado. By looking into the historical data, particularly the records of eyewitness when the disaster happened, and through meteorological observation practice, common sense as well as the knowledge about black power, we went deep in analyzing the cause of the "rumble" in the disaster. We have a surprising yet reasonable conclusion that the boom was caused by an explosion of black powder inside the tornado and amplified by the tornado to be heard far away. We figured that the area where the "rumble" being heard that day forms a shuttle-shape from Beijing to Jizhou. In this research, we are the first to propose that there existed a vortex in the air from Beijing to Jizhou at that time. The "right tornado" on the right side of the vortex that lead to the disaster in Beijing and the "left tornado" on the left side of the vortex that rendered the destruction in Jizhou. When black powder exploded above ground inside the tornado over Wanggangchang, a great deal of energy was released and that promoted the tornado from a F3 to a F5, it greatly increased the devastating power of the tornado and extended its affecting area.

May 30th 2013 marks the 387 anniversary of Wanggongchang Explosion in Beijing, China. It is one of the three most mysterious events in human history; the other two are India Death Hill Calamity over 3,000 years ago and Siberia Tunguska Explosion in 1908.

1 Background

During the Tianqi Period (1621-1627) of late Ming Dynasty, Beijing was the capital city and political, cultural and commercial center of the Ming Empire. With over two million people, it was the largest city in the world at that time. Ming's science and technology was leading the world. It was recorded that black gunpowder was already widely used in battlefields, while the West was still using cold weapons. The Emperor Tianqi was a weak emperor. He had no interest in politics at all. His favorite was carpentry and was expert in it. His court was very much controlled by a eunuch and was very corrupted.

In the morning of May 30th, 1626 (May 6th on Chinese Lunar Calendar), Beijing suffered a big disaster, probably the most devastating one in the history of Beijing. The worst happened at Wanggongchang Gunpowder Factory area in the southwest corner of Beijing. It caused tremendous casualties and property loss. The event was so extraordinary and very hard to comprehend that the cause remained unsolved for over 386 years to make it one of the biggest natural mysteries of the world.

What happened? At around 9-10 am, in the morning of May 30th, 1626, a deafening rumble stopped the normal life of a fine day in downtown Beijing. It signaled the beginning of the most terrible disaster in the history of Beijing. With the roar, buildings shivered and many of them demolished in minutes. The southwestern corner of Beijing encountered a big disaster with over 20,000 people lost their lives together with thousands of houses destroyed. The disaster was a huge shock to Emperor Tianqi. Chinese people believed in "punishment from heaven". Many people thought this was the warning for the emperor and his corrupted court. Consequently, the emperor had to make an official announcement to blame himself for the disaster. As for the cause of the disaster, there had been all kinds of different opinions, rumors, guesses and nonsenses.

Many people believe that the cause of the disaster was an explosion at Wanggongchang Gunpowder Factory. The loud sound of the explosion was heard inside and outside Beijing. Even the people in the city of Zunhua, which was 150 kilometers away from Beijing, heard the rumble. As a result, people thought it had to be a big explosion in order to make such a sound and to destroy so many buildings and kill so many people. When the disaster happened, some people first thought it was an earthquake, later they figured out that was not the case. Then the explosion at Wanggongchang Gunpowder Factory became the main culprit. The factory usually stored tons of explosives (black gunpowder). But we really doubt it. For one thing, if an explosion was so strong to be heard over 100 kilometers away, it has to be an explosion as powerful as an atomic bomb, (no wonder some people today think that's what it was), and the whole city of Beijing would have been erased already had it have been the case. Plus the explosion hypothesis cannot explain some phenomena such as men and women were stripped out of their clothes to become naked, and clothes blown to Western Hill of Beijing, big tree trunks delivered to Miyun (30 kilometers away) and three live persons flew for over 100 kilometers. Another strange thing is that there was no sign of burning and one person survived at ground zero-Wanggongchang Factory. So exactly what had happened?

2 Existing Explanations:

What caused this catastrophe? It got many people confused and addicted to searching for causes of this disaster.

2.1 The Conclusion of 1986 Beijing Conference

There existed many explanations about the cause of this disaster. In 1986, in memory of the 360 year anniversary of the event, there was a conference held in Beijing aiming at finding the cause of this calamity. The main explanations proposed were: 1) spontaneous gunpowder explosion 2) meteoroid crash 3) natural gas explosion 4) explosion induced twister damage 5) hidden volcano or underground nuclear explosion and 6) earthquake and earthquake-induced multiple causes.

Spontaneous gunpowder explosion, meteoroid crash and hidden volcano underground explosion hypothesis were so reluctant that they were rejected



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