Category Archives: Impact on Human Institutions

2017-7-1 : Did Life on Earth Come From Outer Space?

I thought my readers might enjoy this article :

A look at the scientific evidence for panspermia.

“The strongest evidence to support a cosmic origin of life and panspermia is the mind-boggling complexity of life.”

My colleague Sir Fred Hoyle famously commented :

In the 16 years since Fred passed,  we have discovered so much more about the complexity of “life” at the nano-scale. The more we learn about viruses and their contribution to our “human” biosystem, the more we become aware of just how intuitively right Fred was.

I thought I would finish this post with a reference to Wikipedia. With all its flaws it does attempt to be a source for the latest thinking even if you need to check what has been recently deleted to see the best latest and best hypotheses.

Here is a clip from Wikipedia on July 1 , 2017 :

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life

“Life is a characteristic distinguishing physical entities having biological processes, such as signaling and self-sustaining processes, from those that do not, either because such functions have ceased, or because they never had such functions and are classified as inanimate. Various forms of life exist, such as plants, animals, fungi, protists, archaea, and bacteria. The criteria can at times be ambiguous and may or may not define viruses, viroids, or potential artificial life as “living”. Biology is the primary science concerned with the study of life, although many other sciences are involved.

The definition of life is controversial. The current definition is that organisms maintain homeostasis, are composed of cells, undergo metabolism, can grow, adapt to their environment, respond to stimuli, and reproduce. However, many other biological definitions have been proposed, and there are some borderline cases of life, such as viruses. Throughout history, there have been many attempts to define what is meant by “life” and many theories on the properties and emergence of living things, such as materialism, the belief that everything is made out of matter and that life is merely a complex form of it; hylomorphism, the belief that all things are a combination of matter and form, and the form of a living thing is its soul; spontaneous generation, the belief that life repeatedly emerges from non-life; and vitalism, a now largely discredited hypothesis that living organisms possess a “life force” or “vital spark”. Modern definitions are more complex, with input from a diversity of scientific disciplines. Biophysicists have proposed many definitions based on chemical systems; there are also some living systems theories, such as the Gaia hypothesis, the idea that the Earth itself is alive. Another theory is that life is the property of ecological systems, and yet another is elaborated in complex systems biology, a branch or subfield of mathematical biology. Abiogenesis describes the natural process of life arising from non-living matter, such as simple organic compounds. Properties common to all organisms include the need for certain core chemical elements to sustain biochemical functions.

Life on Earth first appeared as early as 4.28 billion years ago, soon after ocean formation 4.41 billion years ago, and not long after the formation of the Earth 4.54 billion years ago.[1][2][3][4] Earth’s current life may have descended from an RNA world, although RNA-based life may not have been the first. The mechanism by which life began on Earth is unknown, though many hypotheses have been formulated and are often based on the Miller–Urey experiment. The earliest known life forms are microfossils of bacteria. In July 2016, scientists reported identifying a set of 355 genes believed to be present in the last universal common ancestor (LUCA) of all living organisms.[5]

I think Fred would concur with me that although this is an acceptable public representation of life, this misses the profound discovery that all visible life forms are not a simple single “entity” but a complex biosystem of interacting clouds of viruses, bacteria and as yet undiscovered nano-life forms.

I always smile when I think of this as it reminds me of just how great Fred’s  visionary novel was – the Black Cloud.

2017-6-24 : To Confirm “Life on MARS” Do We Need to Put Men On Mars?

O’ the irony!

Having already spread billions of dessicated viruses and bacteria on the surface of Mars and most other local bodies, over so many missions, we now announced that:

“We may need to put men on Mars before we can really rule out life on the Red Planet once and for all”.

So man arrives on the surface of a planet or moon not as a single human entity – but as a biosystem of billions of cells, the majority of which are not human BUT viruses and bacteria.

But we will have little idea which are ours and so came with us versus which were already on Mars or Europa. Quite a quandary.

In 2017, we have only identified 10,000 viruses against millions of virus types that might exist even on earth.  Everywhere we apply the latest virus detection hardware and software we discover breakthrough virus types.

We need to accept that “Life IS a Cosmic Phenomenon”.

Once we accept microbes are everywhere,  on every body in the solar system (and maybe galaxy) we can openly start looking for more intelligent beings.  More intelligent than we humans that is.

 

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2016-10-26 : MUMBAI hosts astrobiology conference on life in space

India’s first Astrobiology Conference Life in Space – was organised in the city of MUMBAI by the Indian Astrobiology Research Centre and IARC Centre for United Nations in collaboration with Nehru Science Centre.

The conference was a huge success attended by Astrobiology students from across India. 

Prof. Chandra Wickramasinghe from Churchill College, Cambridge University, UK delivered the first Arthur C Clarke memorial lecture, based on his four decades long quest for extraterrestrial life.

In particular his lecture reviewed his lifelong efforts to test the Panspermia Theory. In 2016 this remains the most likely hypothesis for the spreading of life across the galaxy.

As humans review the wonderful data from the recent ESA visit to Comet 67P, and as we prepare to visit Mars and moons of Jupiter and Saturn, evidence converges to Panspermia as still the most likely explanation on the spread of viruses, bacteria, algae etc across the Milky Way.

Sir Arthur C. Clarke entertains Chandra at his home in Sri Lanka.
Sir Arthur C. Clarke entertains Chandra at his home in Sri Lanka.

mumbai

20161101_142407
Sir Arthur C. Clarke bronze at the historic Galle Face Hotel in Colombo where CW stayed en route to Mumbai. ACC wrote most of the novel 2001 A Space Odyssey whilst he stayed at this same hotel!

The theory of panspermia hypothesizes that life did not originate on Earth but was delivered to Earth from some other part of the galaxy or even from another part of the universe.

On this occasion, a new fund called, “Chandra Wickramasinghe Fund for Panspermia Research” was announced. This fund will encourage astrobiology research amongst students in India.

 

2014-9-20 : United Nations Event – IGNORING LIFE FROM SPACE EVIDENCE COULD THREATEN HUMAN SURVIVAL

At a UN-sponsored Symposium on the “Space Science and the United Nations” held in Graz Austria from 22-24 September 2014, I  presented a paper entitled “The transition from Earth-centred biology to cosmic life” with co-authors Gensuke Tokoro and Milton Wainwright. The paper, now published in Journal of Cosmology (JoC, 24, 12080-12096) argues that a paradigm shift with potentially profound implications for humanity has been taking place over the past 3 decades and is on the verge of acceptance.

In an accompanying second paper (JoC, 24, 12097-12101) the same authors show that the recent discovery by radio astronomers of isopropyl cyanide in interstellar clouds adds to earlier discoveries in astronomy that have indicated the widespread occurrence of even more complex organics that can be interpreted as the break up products of living cells when they are exposed to conditions of space.

We argue in these two papers the new data is not consistent with the reigning dogma in science that life emerged from inorganic chemicals on the Earth. Life, including a capacity to evolve into the magnificent spectacle we see around us, requires a system infinitely bigger and much older than our truly insignificant planet Earth. A large fraction of the matter in the entire universe and enormous spans were needed generate the all-encompassing “blue print” of life. We argue that every living species on the Earth, including Homo sapiens. is the result of the assembly of cosmologically derived viral genes. Evidence for this point of view has grown to a stage that it can no longer be ignored by the scientific community.

Accepting our cosmic origins, and the evidence for a continuing ingress of alien viruses may be important for our very survival. We point out that new viruses capable of threatening Man’s very existence could arrive from space, and it will thus be prudent to monitor the stratosphere on a regular basis. Moreover, from an acceptance of our cosmic connection we need to understand that we must live in harmony with the Earth and its ever-changing biosphere if we are to coexist with it.
Chandra Wickramasinghe
PS List of participants of the UN meeting includes the newly appointed acting NASA chief scientist Dr. Gale Allen. Hopefully Dr. Allan will now start working to change the highly negative attitude of NASA toward discoveries of extraterrestrial life and the implications for mankind and space sciences. The issue that needs to be addressed is that the existence of extraterrestrial life falsifies LCDMHC cosmology, where life anywhere is hopelessly improbable and certainly not homogenized on cosmic scales as indicated by the evidence.
(Reference: http://journalofcosmology.com/JOC24/UNOPDF.pdf)
Contacts: Professor N.C. Wickramasinghe, ncwick@gmail.com, +44 7778389243
Professor G. Tokoro, tokoroar@icloud.com
Professor M. Wainwright, M.Wainwright@sheffield.ac.uk
Professor Rudy Schild (Editor in Chief, JoC), rschild@cfa.harvard.edu