Panspermia: Hoax or Hope?
☼ Fire in the Sky: On December 29, 2012 a fireball exploded in the skies above Sri Lanka, followed by a meteorite that fell near the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. A sample was sent to the Buckingham Institute of Astrobiology and Cardiff University. Researchers now report in the Journal of Cosmology of finding fossils of diatoms enmeshed within the meteorite. Because of the way the microfossils were distributed within the rock, they rule out surface contamination.
☼ Panspermia (from the Greek “all” and “sperm”) is the idea that life exists throughout the Universe, distributed by meteoroids, asteroids and planetoids. So, is this compelling evidence of Panspermia or life in outer space?
☼ Red Rain: The researchers claim that the mysterious red rain that fell in the area within days of the meteorite, reported by our own Siromi Samarasinghe (http://goo.gl/dq7Jq), was seeded from the meteorite. Reports of red rain were first made in Homer’s Iliad and may simply be from airborne algal spores. Is this red rain a red herring?
☼ Earthly Origin? Could it be that this rock was initially blasted off from earth, by the Mesozoic-ending impact on the Yucatan Peninsula, and is now falling back to earth after a grand journey? The article does mention that similar fossils have been found that date back to the time of the dinosaurs.
☼ Hasty Science? The meteorite only just landed, less than 3 weeks ago! How much of a review did this paper get? The authors make the grand statement that “identification of fossilised diatoms in the Polonnaruwa meteorite is firmly established and unimpeachable” and with several self-citations, that “the idea of microbial life carried within comets and the theory of cometary panspermia is thus vindicated”. Their final sentence is a WIN, in my opinion: The universe, not humans, must have the final say to declare what the world is really like. What do you think?
Reference (with pictures!): http://www.buckingham.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Polonnaruwa-meteorite.pdf