Saturday, 26 June 2010

Riddle of the black rain

On the day that my wife was born, it was reported in The Straits Times that "it rained with a difference at the village of Jemaluang, 13 miles from Mersing in Johore."
The villagers gasped with surprise when they found that the rain drops were black. Streams in the locality were filled to the banks with churning black water. No-one could explain the phenomenon. Samples of the black rain will be sent to Johore Bahru for examination.
The mystery was cleared up about two weeks later. According to the newspaper again, the Meteorological Department in Singapore had analysed a sample of the "black rain" water.
A Department spokesman said that the black sediment in the rain water was found to comprise "essentially vegetable debris, that is woody vessels, vegetable fibres or carbon soot." Its finding seems to settle a riddle and confirm a theory put forward recently by Prof. C. J. Eliezer, Dean of Science at the University of Malaya.
Prof. Eliezer was reported to have said that in his opinion, soot from a nearby fire had been blown in the direction of a rain-forming cloud. "As condensation took place, the soot particles dissolved into it forming black drops of rain," he added.

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