24th January 2014
Professor Chandra delivered a public lecture entitled “New evidence for life as a cosmic phenomenon” at the University of Peradeniya Sri Lanka. The audience in Peradeniya included Professor Rohana Chandrajith, Professor of Geology, who had earlier been reported by the media as being antagonistic to the idea that the Polonnaruwa (Aralaganwila) stones that fell on 29th December 2012 were indeed meteorites. In a discussion that followed the lecture Professor Chandrajith agreed that the stones did not resemble any that can be found anywhere locally, and confirmed that his reservations were based on the fact that these stones were different structurally and compositionally for any of the known classes of meteorites. He confirmed also that there is no possibility that these could be fragments of industrial slag as was proposed in some quarters. The most recent studies of the Aralaganwila stones that show oxygen isotope compositions inconsistent with Earth material, as well as extraordinarily high amounts of the terrestrially rare chemical element iridium strengthens the case for the Polonnaruwa stones to be meteorites, and if so they contain evidence of extraterrestrial microbial life. This discovery would then transform the way we think about life on Earth as profoundly as did the Copernican revolution some 500 years ago.
The view that the Polonnaruwa meteorites represent fragments of a loosely held siliceous material within a cometary bolide from which water and volatiles were boiled off upon entry leaving a highly porous structure remains the most plausible explanation of all the facts. A provisional identification with meteoroids in the Taurid meteor stream is interesting particularly in view of the fact that the bolide which led to the Tunguska event of 1908 did not lead to the recovery of any large meteorite fragments.