On May 19, 1910, Earth passed through the fresh tail of Halley’s Comet. Spectra of the comet had found that it contained cyanogen — in the words of the New York Times, “a very deadly poison.”
Nothing bad happened.
As we at ISONblog cover the story of Comet ISON’s approach, we try to keep our focus where it belongs: on the aesthetics and science of this comet. On the way Comet ISON is a rare leftover from our solar system’s infancy. On how ISON will pass close enough to the Sun to probe the solar magnetic field. On how the massive effort to study ISON will knit together observers not just from all over the world, but from across the solar system.
This is exciting enough for us. More importantly, it’s the truth. But we recognize that there are silly, scary, embarrassingly wrong ideas — ideas that we won’t give a platform to here, although it’s super fun to Google them on your own — out there about Comet ISON.
Were it not for that whole “can’t remember the past… condemned to repeat it” thing, maybe we could dismiss this fringe response as isolated, a product of how social media ...