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No. 40: Jul-Aug 1985

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Vanishing Goo

"Some time between the 12th and 18th of December (1983), the west end of North Reading in Massachusetts was bombarded with blobs of jelly-like goo, greyish-white and oily-smelling. The first blob -- two feet in diameter -- was found by Thomas Grinley in his driveway. He thought something was leaking from his car until he found similar blobs on Main Street and on the gas station pumps. State officials denied that the blobs were dropped by a plane. They were soon absorbed into the pavement, but a little goo was saved and was being studied at the state's Department of Environmental Quality Engineering. Preliminary results showed that they were not toxic."

(Anonymous; "Vanishing Goo," Fortean Times, no. 43, p. 23, Spring 1985. Extracted from USA Today of December 22, 1983.)

Comment. These disappearing blobs represent a typically Fortean phenomenon with a history going back before the first aircraft. The reports are generally ridiculed and quickly written off. Given their historical persistence, perhaps we should pay more attention to them, trivial though they seem.

Speaking of falling goo, a detailed historical study of pwdre ser in folklore and science has just appeared. Pwdre ser, as readers of our Handbooks and Catalogs will know, is the Welsh name for star jelly. That jelly-like lumps of materials have been found in the fields after the fall of a shooting star is an integral part of European folklore. Here is a typical poetic mention by Donne:

"As he that sees a starre fall, runs apace, And findes a gellie in the place..."

(Belcher, Hilary, and Swale, Erica; "Catch a Falling Star," Folklore, 95: 210, 1984.)

Reference. Pwdre ser and similar fallen substances are cataloged in GWF7 in: Tornados, Dark Days. For more information on this book, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #40, JUL-AUG 1985. 1985-2000 William R. Corliss