Friday, September 20, 2013

Scientists claim discovery of life coming to Earth from space

September 20, 2013
SEM of a diatom frustule (possibly a Nitzschia species) captured on a stub from a height of 25km in the stratosphere (credit: Milton Wainwright et al./Journal of Cosmology)
Scientists from the University of Sheffield believe they have found life arriving to Earth from space after sending a balloon to the stratosphere.’
After it landed, scientists discovered that they had captured a diatom fragment and some unusual biological entities from the stratosphere, all of which are too large to have come from Earth.
Other scientists disagree, as noted here: New Alien Life Claim Far from Convincing, Scientists Say
The team, led by Professor (Hon. Cardiff and Buckingham Universities) Milton Wainwright, from the University’s Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology found small organisms that could have come from space after sending a specially designed balloon to 27km into the stratosphere during the recent Perseid meteor shower.
Professor Wainwright said: “Most people will assume that these biological particles must have just drifted up to the stratosphere from Earth, but it is generally accepted that a particle of the size found cannot be lifted from Earth to heights of, for example, 27km. The only known exception is by a violent volcanic eruption, none of which occurred within three years of the sampling trip.
“In the absence of a mechanism by which large particles like these can be transported to the stratosphere we can only conclude that the biological entities originated from space. Our conclusion then is that life is continually arriving to Earth from space, life is not restricted to this planet and it almost certainly did not originate here.”
Professor Wainwright said the results could be revolutionary: “If life does continue to arrive from space then we have to completely change our view of biology and evolution,” he added. “New textbooks will have to be written!”
Professor Wainwright said stringent precautions had been taken against the possibility of contamination during sampling and processing, and said the group was confident that the biological organisms could only have come from the stratosphere.
The group’s findings have been published in the Journal of Cosmology (open access) and updated versions will appear in the same journal, a new version of which will be published in the near future. Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe of the Buckingham, University Center for Astrobiology (of which Professor Wainwright is an Honorary Fellow) also gave a presentation of the group’s findings at a meeting of astronomers and astrobiologists in San Diego last month.
Professor Wainwright added: “Of course it will be argued that there must be an, as yet, unknown mechanism for transferring large particles from Earth to the high stratosphere, but we stand by our conclusions. The absolutely crucial experiment will come when we do what is called ‘isotope fractionation’. We will take some of the samples which we have isolated from the stratosphere and introduce them into a complex machine – a button will be pressed. If the ratio of certain isotopes gives one number then our organisms are from Earth, if it gives another, then they are from space. The tension will obviously be almost impossible to live with!”
The research was conducted by Professor (Hon. Cardiff and Buckingham Universities) Milton Wainwright from the University of Sheffield, Chris Rose and Alex Baker from the University of Sheffield’s Leonardo Centre for Tribology and Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe Director of the Centre for Astrobiology, University of Buckingham.

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