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No. 2: January 1978

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Infections From Comets

Astronomer Fred Hoyle notes that pandemics and plagues have generally appeared very suddenly and unexpectedly, sweeping the globe with hard-to-explain swiftness. Noting in passing that comets have always been considered bad omens, he postulates that cometary matter may actually contain bacteria and viruses that infect the earth's populace as the planet passes through cometary tails.

Recent spectroscopic studies of interstellar matter and comets themselves indicate a richness of life-associated compounds that infers that outer space might well be the breeding ground of simple life. The authors review some of the strange history of epidemic diseases and wonder if their theory of germbearing comets might not satisfy the data as well as the more common hypothesis of random mutation and genetic recombination.

(Hoyle, Fred, and Wickramasinghe, Chandra; "Does Epidemic Disease Come from Space?" New Scientist, 76:402, 1977.)

From Science Frontiers #2, January 1978. 1978-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987