Wednesday, January 6, 2021

SearchResearch Challenge (1/6/2021): What falls from the sky?

Welcome to 2021!  

Before we get to our main topic today, let me give you a quick update on the blog.  

SearchResearch began just about 11 years ago, on January 30, 2010.  Since then I've written 1218 posts (just over 1 / week) and together we've written over 7000 comments!  

We've had over  3.7M reads during that time--usually averaging around 20K readers / month, which puts SRS into a fairly active realm of blog sites.  Thanks, Regular Readers!  

Another interesting factoid:  Most readers use a Windows machine to access SRS, but the two biggest browsers are Chrome and Firefox. 

And, as you know, the book The Joy of Search, came out of this blog.  MANY thanks to all who contributed comments and thoughts about the book (and the Challenges that went into the book).  

Thus far, The Joy of Search has sold more than 5K copies, which I'm very pleased about.  I won't be able to retire to Tahiti on the book proceeds, but I did buy a nice, new bike to celebrate.  The whole book-writing process worked out well enough that I'm working on another book.  (Which you'll hear more about later this year. Stay tuned.)  

Thanks again to everyone--all of your thoughts and contributions make my life easy (and it's great fun to see all of the comments)!  

On to this week's Challenges.... 

As I've mentioned before, I have a file of ideas about Challenges for SRS.  I was just browsing through it the other day when I noticed three different ideas that would all fit together in a nice package.  Can you find the answers? 

1.  As you can see in the above image, meteor showers (or as in this image, a meteor storm) can be impressive.  But it took the world a remarkably long time to believe that stone really fell from the sky.  Can you figure out when people started to believe that rocks really fell from the sky?  (Hint: There's not a singular event for this, but you should be able to figure out when the common understanding of meteors / meteorites changed.)  

2.  As it turns out, it's not just stones that fall from the sky, but lots of other things as well.  Fish are particularly common.  Can you find a compelling / plausible / believable example of fish falling from the sky?  (No, Sharknado doesn't count...) 

3.  Can you find a place where diamonds rain down from the sky?  How is that even possible?  

As usual, let us know HOW you found the answers!  

Search on! 



  1. My first search - for question 1 was to look at the history of meteorites. This gave two wikipedia articles - one on Meteorites and the other on Meteoroids. These stated that it was only in the 19th century that these were recognised as cosmic rather than an atmospheric phenomenon like lightning. In 1807, Yale University chemistry professor Benjamin Silliman investigated a meteorite that fell in Weston, Connecticut.[Silliman believed the meteor had a cosmic origin, but meteors did not attract much attention from astronomers until the spectacular meteor storm of November 1833 when observers noticed that they had a single point of origin and the astronomer Denison Olmsted concluded that it had a cosmic origin. The article on meteorites states that German physicist, Ernst Florens Chladni, was the first to publish (in 1794) the idea that meteorites might be rocks that originated not from Earth, but from space. His booklet was "On the Origin of the Iron Masses Found by Pallas and Others Similar to it, and on Some Associated Natural Phenomena" and he concluded that they must have their origins in outer space. The scientific community of the time responded with resistance and mockery. It took nearly ten years before a general acceptance of the origin of meteorites was achieved through the work of the French scientist Jean-Baptiste Biot and the British chemist, Edward Howard.

    Other links confirmed Chladni as the father of meteorite study - but it was Jean-Baptise Biot, a physicist, who made it conclusive after his studies of the meteorites that fell in l’Aigle in 1803 - where there were actual witnesses.
    The (reliable) tells the story and the history of the early science is told in "The Scientific Study of Meteors in the 19th century" (Romig, MF (1966) Meteoritics, volume 3, number 1, page 11). This states that there were doubts up to 1871 when the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli showed their extra-terristial origin. (Schiaparelli also was responsible for the discovering the "Martian Canals").

    These links were in the first 5 or so and came up with my first search.

  2. The 2nd question was also easy to solve - by googling "raining fish". (I've actually witnessed this. We had a family holiday in Floriday as it was hit by a hurricane. The next morning there were puddles with fish swimming around - a long way from the sea).

    Several articles and videos came up - including reliable sources such as The London Times and the BBC.
    This BBC report tells of fish falling on a village in Sri Lanka in 2014 - This wikipedia article gives several occurrences -
    The meterology of this is in My favourite video / news item is a report on fish falling in London because the witnesses are so British.
    There's a different report in

    3) Diamonds apparently rain on the large solar system planets - Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus according to (Uranus / Neptune) and (Jupiter / Saturn).

    Lightning storms turn methane into soot (carbon) which as it falls hardens into chunks of graphite and then diamond.
    These diamond "hail stones" eventually melt into a liquid sea in the planets' hot cores. 1,000 tonnes of diamonds a year are being created on Saturn.

  3. Happy 2021 and happy Anniversary!

    I started with [Real fish falling sky]

    Can it rain fish? Yes, even 40 times at year. Not exactly "rain"

    Also Wikipedia has an article about Rain of Animals.

    There are other articles to read, like the ones from LOC and NY Times.

    1. Not about this Challenge. Related to previous ones and to our present days with Covid-19

      The 432-year-old manual on social distancing

    2. [First meteor shower in history]

      1799. History Channel: Ellicott’s journal entry is the first known record of a meteor shower in North America.

      1833 Meteor Storm Started Citizen Science

      “Olmsted realized for the first time that they came from one point, one he first called the radiant,” Littmann says. Astronomers today still use the radiant to name meteor showers...“This was a seminal moment in American science journalism, really in science journalism worldwide,” says Littmann..."

    3. I love Aurora even when never have seen one in real life. I love watching videos, photos and movies with them. Now that we have Meteor Shower Challenge, thought about them and SRS with

      [First time Aurora Borealis was watched]

      First result is zero helpful. However, related questions answered gives fantastic results

      When was the northern lights first seen LOC I'm sure Dr. Russell and many of you will like this. Kristian Birkeland, the “father of modern auroral science,”...Babylonian clay tablet... Galileo Galilei and Yellowknife Canada.

      [who discovered Aurora Borealis]

      The first person to accurately explain the Aurora Borealis was a Norweigan scientist named Kristian Birkeland.

      Just a small part open. Other you need to be part of Study.

      Jon tU, have you seen Aurora's? Maybe in Yellowknife?

  4. I loved your illustration of a meteor shower so much I went looking for more, and have just spent half an hour admiring many old engravings. I found a colourised version of the one on your post:

    1. That's a beautiful illustration as well. Nice colorizing. For extra credit, can you figure out who made that illustration?

  5. Meteor Shower, Children's Fairy Geography
    pages 414 & 420, Signs of the Times
    page 420: Modern Inventions. "Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." Dan. 12:4.

  6. 1. "common understanding of meteors / meteorites" Finds this excellent site which also happens to include your image from 1833.

    It goes on to say..."So by the mid-1860s there was a sound understanding of meteoroid stream dynamics, leading to the observed meteor showers. " This what I would have guessed, mostly.

    2. Darn, no sharks? I was about to be very clever. Hurricanes and cyclones waterspouts can pick up fishies if they are near the surface. If a cow can be lifted a few fishies is easy.
    "list of things fell from sky" finds many hits a good one being

    The fish entry is for Ramon: "In Mexico, fish fall from the sky so often there’s a name for it: "lluvia de peces" (literally, rain of fish)"

    Included in the list are iguanas, meat, frogs, spiders, boiled bats, blood, golf balls and Gold (wear a hardhat for this one. And of course all the space debris currently about 6,000 tons has landed.

    3. Can you find a place where diamonds rain down from the sky? How is that even possible? all explained here and other places: On Neptune, It's "Raining Diamonds" | American Scientist / Extraterrestrial diamonds - Wikipedia
    THe speculated process is too long for this comment post.

    THese CHallenges were great ! Jon tU

  7. 8 Jan 2021 Times-Colonist:

    Which she dutifully picked up and turned over to police, who will not release her name or the amount, suspecting that it is drug money. If not claimed in 90 days its hers.

  8. There is a well-documented record of a large meterorite falling in Yorkshire, UK in 1795 - see