All posts by Chandra Wickramasinghe

Nalin Chandra Wickramasinghe (born 20 January 1939) is a Sri Lankan-born British mathematician, astronomer and astrobiologist. He is currently Professor and Director of the Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology at the University of Buckingham, a post he has held since 2011. Chandra Wickramasinghe has written 24 books about astrophysics and related topics; he has made frequent appearances on radio, television and film, and he writes extensive online blogs and articles.


I delivered a lecture entitled “New evidence for life as a cosmic phenomenon” at the Astronomical Society of Oman in Muscat on 15th January 2014, at the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka on 23rd January.  The audience at Peradeniya included Professor Rohana Chandrajith, Professor of Geology, who had been reported as being antagonistic to the idea that the Polonnaruwa (Aralaganwila) stones that fell on 29th December 2012 were indeed meteorites1.  In a discussion that followed the lecture Professor Chandrajith agreed that the Polonnaruwa stones in question did not resemble any that can be found anywhere locally.  He further confirmed that his earlier reservations were based on the fact that these stones were different structurally and compositionally from any of the known and documented classes of meteorites.  He alo agreed that there is no possibility that these could be fragments of industrial slag as was proposed by some critics.

The most recent studies of the Aralaganwila stones by Jamie Wallis et al2,3 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 being meteorites, and if so they contain unequivocal evidence of the existence of extraterrestrial microbial life.  This discovery would then transform the way we think about the Earth and of life upon it as radically and profoundly as did the Copernican revolution some 500 years ago.

The view that the Polonnaruwa meteorites represent fragments of loosely held siliceous grain material within a cometary bolide from which water and volatiles were boiled off upon entry, thus leaving a highly porous structure, remains the most plausible explanation of all the available facts.  A provisional identification with meteoroids in the annual Taurid meteor stream4 which we originally made is interesting particularly in view of the fact that the large bolide which led to the Tunguska event of 1908 did not lead to the recovery of any large meteorite fragments.

On 24th January 2014 I had an audience with His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapakse, President of the Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka.  I appraised the President of the latest findings regarding the Aralaganwila meteorite and urged His Excellency to declare the location of the 29th December 2012 meteorite fall as a site of national scientific heritage.  In the fullness of time the events of this day that took place in Sri Lanka would be regarded as having established beyond doubt that life is a truly cosmic phenomenon.  President Rajapakse gave assent to this proposal without reservation and immediately set in train the protocol that would ensure its implementation

9 Feb 2014 : New ANURADHAPURA meteorite analyzed for LIFE

9 Feb 2014 :  

Twelve months ago, publication of the 29 Dec 2012 POLONNARUWA METEORITE preliminary analysis resulted in a global furor. The rapid release of the first (of five) academic papers triggered criticism of the paper’s scientific analysis methods . The first paper was criticized by some who argued the contamination question had not been sufficiently addressed. Some even questioned whether the rock would be accepted as a meteorite by the British and International bodies.

Over the next four months, four more in depth academic papers reported the detailed analysis which provided evidence for the early claims. A later paper in December 2013 from Dr. Jamie Wallis looked at the rocks as geological objects. His paper is being used to register the rock as a proven meteorite with the British and Irish Meteorite Society and then the International Meteoritic Society.

8 Dec 2013 (Peak of Taurid Shower): The ANURADHAPURA METEORITE

A second incident happened in Sri Lanka just 2 months ago just twelve months after the POLONNARUWA METEORITE. This second meteorite incident is now known as the ANURADHAPURA meteorite fall. This was witnessed on 8 Dec 2013 at the peak of the Taurid Shower – Taurid’s are the debris of Encke’s comet.


The Anuradhapura meteorites, were examined at Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology (SLINTEC) who specialize in Nanotechnology research. Equipment used included a Hitachi SU6600 Analytical Variable Pressure FE-SEM. Hitachi SU 6600 is a versatile SEM allowing observation of a wide range of materials at high resolution. The following image shows SLINTEC and a sample of the structures that were found, many being deeply interwoven and intertwined into the rock matrix, evidence consistent with the position that they are not contaminants. Note that the Anuradhapura meteorites (like the Polonnaruwa meteorites) do not resemble any terrestrial stone that could have lain anywhere near the recovery location. 


The preliminary paper discussing the early analysis results is available by clicking here.