In a detailed paper called “Fossil Diatoms In A New Carbonaceous Meteorite” that is appearing in the Journal of Cosmology, Chandra Wickramasinghe claims to have found strong evidence that life exists throughout the universe.
An electron microscope was used to study the reported remains of a large meteorite (see image below) that fell near the Sri Lanka village of Polonnaruwa on Dec. 29.
Wickramasinghe is the director of the Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology at the University of Buckingham in the U.K. In December, he and his colleagues found “a microstructure and morphology characteristic of a wide class of terrestrial diatoms.” The group concluded that “the presence of structures of this kind in any extraterrestrial setting could be construed as unequivocal proof of biology” — in other words, proof of life outside of planet Earth.
Wickramasinghe and the late English astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle co-developed a theory known as “panspermia,” which suggests that life exists throughout the universe and is distributed by meteoroids and asteroids.
“We conclude … that the identification of fossilised diatoms [as shown in the image below] in the Polonnaruwa meteorite is firmly established and unimpeachable. Since this meteorite is considered to be an extinct cometary fragment, the idea of microbial life carried within comets and the theory of cometary panspermia is thus vindicated,” Wickramasinghe wrote in the research paper.
But with any remarkable claim comes criticism of the scientist’s research and conclusions.
Astronomer Phil Plait, writing in Slate magazine, raised several red flags and called into question the validity of Wickramasinghe’s findings.
“Wickramasinghe is a fervent proponent of [panspermia]. Like, really fervent. So much so that he attributes everything to life in space,” Plait wrote. “He’s claimed living cells found in the stratosphere come from space. (There is no evidence at all they do, and it’s far more likely they are terrestrial). … Wickramasinghe jumps on everything, with little or no evidence, and says it’s from outer space, so I think there’s a case to be made for a bias on his part.”
The Huffington Post contacted Wickramasinghe in the U.K. and asked him to respond to some of the criticisms leveled at him by Plait, beginning with Plait’s assertion that Wickramasinghe is biased in his notion that there is an abundance of life in outer space.
“In 1962, [Hoyle and I] pioneered the theory of carbon grains in space to replace the old ice grain theory. This was vehemently resisted by the astronomical community at the outset, but with the dawn of infrared spectroscopy, the ice grain theory gave way to the carbon dust theory,” Wickramasinghe told HuffPost in an email.
( via huffingtonpost.com )