Word of the day: Panspermia

3 09 2010

Panspermia:

“the theory that life exists and is distributed throughout the universe in the form of germs or spores that develop in the right environment.”  – dictionary.com

A few months ago I had the misfortune of having to spend some time with a highly deluded person who believed the human race were aliens.  He even had a tattoo of an alien on his arm.  The guy believed a whole lot of conspiracy rubbish.  One example/ he believed fluoride is added to our water for the purpose of pacifying and controlling the population.  He kept saying that “they” don’t want you to know about it.  Unfortunately he wouldn’t tell me who “they” were.   He even inspired me to write a quick blog post on the madness of most conspiracy theories. 

Anyway, I stumbled across this article today:

Panspermia theorists say India’s red rain contains life not seen on earth

Of course it’s well known that there are many organisms on earth that can survive extreme conditions, including the harsh conditions of space.  But it’s quite another thing to believe we’re all descendants of aliens like some kind of nutty Scientologist.  But this article was quite interesting.  Could simple alien cells travel light years in suspended animation and land on earth?  Interesting, but I’m still sceptical.

Today, after a further four years of studying the cells, joined by a leading panspermia theorist from the UK, Chandra Wickramasinghe, Professor Louis has published claims that they are unlike anything found on Earth.
He says the cells – inert at room temperature – begin to reproduce at 121C.

Further on:

The team also found an unusual pattern in the way the cells changed colour under UV light, known as “fluorescence behaviour”.

They said it was “in remarkable correspondence” with red emissions from the Red Rectangle planetary nebula some 2300 light years away, “suggesting, though not proving, an extraterrestrial origin”.

While the panspermia angle is already being rejected by the scientific community at large, there’s plenty of interest in the final finding of Prof Louis’s team – the cells contain no DNA.

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