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No. 83: Sep-Oct 1992

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Earth's water not imported?

That the earth is continuously bombarded by icy minicomets is unpopular in the Court of Science. Even less acceptable is the notion that over the eons these house-sized chunks of ice contributed substantially to our planet's inventory of water.

In what will surely be hailed as the death knell of the icy comet theory is the discovery by K. Muehlenbachs, of the University of Alberta, and F. Robert and M Javoy, from the University of Paris, that the water contained in the earth's rocks, both ancient and recent, is isotopically different from the water found in meteorites. Meteoric water is assumed to be isotopically the same as cometary water. Conclusion: comets could not have contributed substantially to our planet's water inventory in the geological past.

(Anonymous; "Earth's Water Did Not Come from Comets," New Scientist, p. 19, June 20, 1992.)

Comment. Of course, the isotpic measurements have to be weighed against all the data supporting the icy comet theory Icy comets could, after all, be a recent phenomenon. Also, no one has ever actually analyzed a piece of cometary ice; it is simply assumed that it would be similar to meteoric water.

From Science Frontiers #83, SEP-OCT 1992. 1992-2000 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