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No. 114: Nov-Dec 1997

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It can't be true because it violates our ideas!

This was the collective opinion of many atmospheric scientists when a satellite experiment found approximately 50% more water vapor at an altitude of 75 kilometers than well-established theory predicted. That was back in 1991. Now, a second satellite experiment of different design has confirmed the existence of this "excess" water vapor. Most geophysicists are perplexed, to say the least.

Not L. Frank, though, because these experiments are in line with his theory that the upper atmosphere is continuously pelted by house-size, fluffy, icy comets -- some 20 each minute. (SF#112)

Frank asserts:

"When you get that excess of water vapor up there, it just can't come from the Earth. It must come from space."

Even so, other geophysicists are reluctant to accept Frank's icy comets -- that would be too much "crow" to eat! One point levied against Frank's icy comets is that they would introduce more than three times the amount of water vapor actually measured. M. Summers, a theoretician at the Naval Research Laboratory, summed up mainstream opinion:

"There's definitely something very unusual going on in the mesosphere that we don't understand at all, but I'm not even close to saying this supports the small-comet hypothesis."

(Kerr, Richard A.; "Rising Damp from Small Comets?" Science, 277:1033, 1997. Also: Monastersky, R.; "Reservoir of Water Hides High above Earth," Science News, 152:117, 1997.)

From Science Frontiers #114, NOV-DEC 1997. 1997-2000 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