Why Is Foam Falling From the Sky in Manhattan?

By Melissa Lafsky | September 11, 2009 12:39 pm

We here at Discover rarely look out the window, so enthralled are we with the daily goings on of the science-related interwebs. But a tipster (the tech guy, who actually does go outside) informed us that a strange, unexplained phenomenon was occurring outside our office: Foam is falling from the sky.

It looks like snow, only it’s not anything that nature could drum up. Where it’s coming from and why remain a mystery. Exploded dry cleaners? Cargo plane dropping mattresses?

Our crack research team (aka Brett the Intern) is out collecting samples for analysis. Pictorial evidence here:

Foam Falling from the sky


Foam on 14th St

If you have any insider info on the strange foam assault, email us at mlafsky@discovermagazine.com.

UPDATE: We will have video shortly.

UPDATE 2: The Forbes.com people are also concerned about the foam tempest. (Yes, Forbes, we r in ur buildingz, watching u make galereez.)

UPDATE 3: The foam appears to be soap that’s being shot from the building ventilation system or water pipes. The soap was created by men who felt the need to wash the roof of 90 Fifth Avenue. In the pouring rain.

Thanks to all the tipsters who have written in, offering theories from rampant laundry room emergencies to September 11th pranks.

  • http://www.forbes.com ann

    We at Forbes, your downstairs neighbors, have heard rumors that they are washing the roof. Why they would do this is a mystery. Why they would do this on a rainy day is an even greater mystery. Who’s up for a Forbes-Discover mixer at which we can discuss the many mysteries of our building?

  • Haruspex

    I don’t follow this blog for personal issues like this. It’s especially banal when I have to watch it stream by in Twitter. Please keep these kind of stories for your personal blog, not the official Discover magazine blog.

  • gabrielle

    Sorry, Haruspex, but this blog is not created for your sole personal consumption, to your anal specifications. Others who read it, especially those in NYC, we’re happy to read of the investigation and discovery of the source of this strange phenomenon, especially on a 9/11 anniversary.

  • Overquoted

    Oh, c’mon. It’s a question asked and answered. Isn’t that the nature of science? I have one! Where’d all the humor go? I suspect it was washed off the roof.

  • Nick

    Haruspex, if you look up “banal”, I’m sure you’ll discover that foam falling from the sky doesn’t fit the definition. The article was interesting. Don’t be a dick.

  • http://pl.atyp.us Platypus

    Better banal than anal.

    (Go ahead. Point out that they don’t rhyme.)

  • http://www.forbes.com John D.

    I heard “banal” used in a way that rhymes with “anal” in a movie recently, though I am not sure which one. May have been Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. But listen here: http://www.merriam-webster.com/cgi-bin/audio.pl?banal001=banal

  • Haruspex

    I maintain that this is not the proper venue for such posts, whatever personal feelings you or I may have.

  • beach bum

    Awesome pictures! What a weird phenomenon.

  • Julian

    Well you obviously have enough time to continue to complain about it, instead of getting on with your life, Haru.

  • http://sacrilicio.us madcap

    I guess that’s the difference between the blog owners and the blog commentors: the owners get to choose what to post.

  • cdog


  • NewEnglandBob

    Continue your non-following, Haruspex. It has really worked well for you, hasn’t it.

  • williams

    I noticed this at school today in Toronto too! The stuffs all over the city.
    September 20 2011


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