Patrick Huyghe | The Startling Discovery of Small Comets

In 1986 Space Physicist Louis A. Frank at the University of Iowa announced that the Earth was being showered every minute by small comets that break up and deposit large clouds of water vapor in the upper atmosphere. This wasn’t mere speculation; the evidence came from images taken by the Dynamics Explorer spacecraft. Frank faced an avalanche of criticism from fellow astronomers, geologists, and geophysicists. But a few scientists who were intent on proving him wrong actually confirmed his discovery. Then in the 1990s, images from two instruments on another spacecraft named Polar provided “vindication” of his original discovery.

This talk will attempt to present some of the evidence for the existence of the small comets and explain my role in the story. It will not detail the extensive controversy, which is covered in detail in the new book “Cosmic Rain: The Controversial Discovery of Small Comets” by Louis A. Frank.

Patrick Huyghe is a writer, editor, publisher, and television producer. He spent two decades writing about science for magazines from Omni to Discover to The New York Times; was a staff writer at Newsweek; produced television documentaries for WGBH and WNET; was the editor of the SSE’s EdgeScience for more than 12 years, and is the author/co-author of nine books. He is currently the editor and publisher of Anomalist Books.

This talk is part of a series of community discussion hours hosted by and for members of the Society for Scientific Exploration. Join the SSE to support the Society’s commitment to maintaining an open professional forum for researchers at the edge of conventional science:

The SSE provides a forum for original research into cutting-edge and unconventional areas. Views and opinions belong only to the speakers and are not necessarily endorsed by the SSE.

Published on December 13, 2022