2014-8-8 : My Letter to the UK National Newspaper – The Independent – Rosetta hints at life on comets

(This letter appeared today in the Friday 8th August issue of The Independent, UK).

The encounter of the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has generated a wave of media excitement that is surely well justified.

However, science reporters and commentators who have described the comet as a “hurtling lump of dust and ice” have unwittingly downgraded the importance of the mission. They take no account of discoveries spanning more than three decades, indicating a large carbonaceous content of comets that gives rise to their dark, coal-like surfaces. Consistent with the theories of the late Sir Fred Hoyle and the present writer, the connection between comets, life and evolution has developed to the point that a life-detection experiment on the Rosetta lander would have been amply justified.

However, for mainly cultural reasons, such an experiment was not included in the mission, and in the event only indirect support of a comet-life connection can be expected from this mission.

The rendezvous with the comet that was achieved on 7 August 2014 has led to stunning close-up images of its surface. Rough terrain of low reflectivity appears to be interspersed with smoother areas that could represent recently exposed subsurface lakes that were laden with microbial life.

The high rate of outgasing that has been observed from early June points to the action of microbial life within such sub-surface lakes.

More evidence – albeit indirect evidence – pointing to our cosmic cometary ancestry is likely to be unravelled from experiments to be conducted in the Rosetta mission in the months that lie ahead.

Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe

University of Buckingham

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/letters/letters-rosetta-hints-at-life-on-comets-9655339.html#commentReference

2014-7-31 : Professor Chandra Delivers “RAY WIJEWARDENE 2014” Lecture

Anoma Wijewardene  thanks Chandra:  “For a scintillating, thought provoking, challenging and yet accessible to us laymen lecture. We have had enthusiastic response from all and so many are thanking us for the opportunity to hear someone they have longed to hear for years!   A great service to the Trust and the nation. We are deeply grateful” .

MTV Newsfirst provides 2 minutes of footage.

The poster for the RAY WIJEWARDENE 2014 follows.

This newspaper article from this morning’s SRI LANKAN Sunday Times by Smriti Daniel  captures the essence of Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe’s Lecture.

On 8 August 2014 02:12, Nalaka Gunawardene <alien@nalaka.org> wrote:

Dear Dr Wickramasinghe,

I’m sorry I didn’t get to meet you during the Ray Wijewardene Memorial Lecture in Colombo last week, but I enjoyed being in your packed audience.

I have just written up my impressions as part of my weekly column that appears in Ceylon Today newspaper, 8 August 2014.
Since the newspaper’s website is not well developed, and is poorly indexed, I archive my column in a dedicated blog:
http://collidecolumn.wordpress.com/2014/08/08/when-worlds-collide-116-did-we-all-come-from-outer-space/

I welcome your comments – and if you agree, would like to do an email interview that follows up on your lecture and recent biography, which I enjoyed reading.

Thanks and best,

Nalaka

……………………………………………
Nalaka Gunawardene
Science writer & communication consultant
9/3, Gemunu Mawatha, Nawala Road, Nugegoda, Sri Lanka.
T: +94 11 4412 195; F: +94 11 4403 443; E: <alien@nalaka.org>
Personal Blog: http://nalakagunawardene.com
Sunday column: http://collidecolumn.wordpress.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/NalakaG
Books: http://nalakagunawardene.com/books/
_______________________________________________________________________

Chandra  responded :

Dear Nalaka

Thank for sending me your article.  A good defense of orthodoxy!  I should comment that I never chose to be heterodox or follow the path of the maverick.  Only the facts directed me at all times!  I think that in unsolved problems in science (of which the origin of life is one) it is always the heterodox that turns out to be right,

I will be glad to give you another email interview, if you like.  I am copying this to my colleague to link your article to our website.

Best

Chandra