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No. 60: Nov-Dec 1988

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Icy comets evaporating?

To keep the scorecard up-to-date, we here record the probable obliteration of observations of excess hydrogen in the inner solar system. Mentioned in SF#58, this excess hydrogen was observed from Voyager 2, as it cruised toward Mars and looked backward towards earth. Al-though the amount of excess hydrogen detected was only l/10,000,000-th of that required by the small icy comets postulated by L. Frank et al, the result was surprising and gave a boost to the icy comet theory. Unfortunately, perhaps, the "excess" hydrogen evolved from a clerical error, when a student miscopied a figure during the data analysis. (No PhD for that student!)

Frank's icy comets are in even deeper trouble, since independent analysis hint that his satellite data may be attributable to instrument noise.

(Kerr, Richard A.; "Comets Were a Clerical Error," Science, 241:532, 1988. Also: Hall, D.T., and Shemansky, D.E.; "No Cometesimals in the Inner Solar System," Nature, 334:417, 1988.)

From Science Frontiers #60, NOV-DEC 1988. 1988-2000 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