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No. 96: Nov-Dec 1994

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A Curious String Of Coincidences

The journal Nature is not the place where one usually finds mention of bizarre coincidences. Nature's nature is supposed to be exclusively rational -- completely dedicated to a cause-and-effect universe. Yet, there it was: A letter from A. Scott calling attention to the fact that three fragments of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 impacted Jupiter almost precisely 25 years after three crucial events in the Apollo-11 moon landing mission.

Fact #1. Comet fragment 1 impacted the same day as the Apollo-11 launch, but 25 years later.

Fact #2. The largest comet fragment hit Jupiter 25 years to the minute after the actual landing.

Fact #3. The final comet fragment hit almost precisely 25 years after lift-off from the lunar surface.

"So the start, climax and end of the series of impacts coincided exactly with the start, climax and end (in the sense of departure from the Moon) of the Apollo-11 mission to the Moon."

(Scott, Andrew; "Strange But True," Nature, 371:97, 1994.)

Comment. Truly, nature works in mysterious ways. Are these incredible coincidences a transcendental beckoning, like the monolith of 2001: A Space Odyssey ? Wait a minute, it was no other than Arthur C. Clarke, who first pointed out Fact #2 above. And what did he write?

From Science Frontiers #96, NOV-DEC 1994. 1994-2000 William R. Corliss