I am talking about one Jon Larsen of Denmark. Over a period of some eight years he found a way to determine the visual characteristics of cosmic dust particles; characteristics that are quite different, once you know what to look for, than what you see in our ordinary detritus and effluvia .
For a long time, scientists were having a hard time finding these same particles, and hadn't had any luck yet in figuring out why. As it happens, their approach had been centered more on trying to distinguish terrestrial from cosmic by chemical testing means. As the article indicates:
Way to go Mr. Larsen. What you have done is a wonderful achievement. It shows what a regular citizen can do with thought, investigation, imagination, and determination."...Mr. Larsen then changed tactics. Rather than looking exclusively for cosmic dust, he taught himself how to classify the dozens of different kinds of earthly contaminants, starting a process of elimination that slowly narrowed the candidates and raised the chances that some tiny fraction of the urban debris might turn out to belong to the cosmos.The breakthrough came two years ago. In London, Dr. Genge studied one of the gathered particles — from Norway, not Timbuktu — and confirmed that it was indeed a traveler from outer space. Mr. Larsen quickly identified hundreds more..."
This is the kind of thing that gives me real hope for our future.