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Amateur Scientist Finds Meteorite Particles in Rain Gutters

December 18th, 2017 | No Comments »

Tired of pulling handfuls of wet leaves, twigs and pinecones out of your gutters every year? Well, if you look a little closer, you might find something much more interesting in there, too.

Jon Larsen is an amateur scientist and jazz musician from Norway who has spent years sifting through the dust particles that accumulate in rain gutters in search of cosmic debris. Although some academics initially discredited his eccentric endeavor, Larsen recently made a major breakthrough that has excited many people in the scientific community.

After scouring the rooftops of Oslo, Paris and Berlin for 5 years, Larsen finally found what he was looking for—micrometorite dust that originated outside our atmosphere.

Now, Larsen is working with Dr. Matthew Genge of Imperial College London to analyze his specimens and learn more about their origins. These tiny dust particles offer a unique look at some of the Earth’s most recent contact with celestial bodies like asteroids and comets.

“Because they’ve been largely collected from roofs on commercial buildings, those buildings have their gutters cleaned at least every 3-5 years, so we know these [particles] have landed on Earth at least in the last 5 years,” said Genge in an interview. “Whereas the particles found on the seabed are up to 50,000 years old, these are a sample of what’s landing on Earth, practically today.”

By studying the differences between ancient dust found on the seabed and the much younger dust found in gutters, Genge and Larsen hope to learn more about how our solar system has changed over the course of the last several thousand years. It just goes to show that there are all kinds of amazing discoveries just waiting to be made in the most unexpected places—even hidden in the bottom of your rain gutters!

Written by Walt Bell

Walt Bell

Walt Bell is the owner of Bell Seamless Gutters out of New Jersey. He has over 50 years experience in the industry and serves customers of small homes to large buildings.

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