THE GENTLE COSMIC RAIN

DON'T WORRY IF YOU MISSED HALE-BOPP; AS MANY AS 43,000 SMALLER COMETS COULD REACH EARTH TODAY

Hardly anybody took Louis Frank seriously when he first proposed, more than 10 years ago, that the Earth was being bombarded by cosmic snowballs at the rate of as many as 30 a minute. Part of the problem was how preposterous his theory sounded: every day, he suggested, tens of thousands of icy comets, each the size of a small house and containing 40 tons of water, were vaporizing in the upper atmosphere and raining down on Earth. It didn't help that the University of Iowa physicist happened to release his findings on April 1, 1986. "Newspapers," he recalls, "phoned to...

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