Chandra Wickramasinghe on the NASA Mars announcement

The Tusk is honored to maintain a digital acquaintance with distinguished Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe, who in the 1970’s with Sir Fred Hoyle established — and to my mind proved — the theory of Panspermia. We had been corresponding concerning the jaw dropping recent genetic study, when NASA announced today’s press conference. I asked Dr. C to provide a statement for the Tusk concerning the findings, which were consistent with microbial life on Mars.  He very graciously sent me the commentary below:

The recent announcement that there are organic molecules (possibly related to life) on Mars still falls short of the revelation that there is extant life lurking beneath the surface.  That may not be far off, given all the indirect signs (eg seasonal variations of methane emissions), that have been recognised for some years.

The existence of microbial life on Mars has been a foregone conclusion, however, since it was discovered that Earth-microbes do indeed survive the most extreme and harshest imaginable conditions on our own planet.  It has also been demonstrated in the laboratory that microbes embedded in dust particles and rocks are not all killed in the processes of high-speed expulsion and re-entry onto planets.

The range of conditions prevailing in those areas of Mars that have been explored over the past 50 years have surely included ample possibilities for the survival of Earth microbes, extremophiles as they are called; and we also know that rocks and meteorites have been exchanged between Mars and Earth on a more or less regular basis over hundreds of millions of years.  There is no great surprise that our two planets make up a connected microbial biosphere.  What is far more important is the connection of life, both on Earth and Mars, with locations (including comets) further out in the solar system as well as elsewhere in the galaxy.  This is the form of panspermia theory that was developed by me and the late Sir Fred Hoyle beginning in the 1970’s and for which there is now overwhelming evidence.

(See Steele et al, 2018: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0079610718300798) and (Wickramasinghe, Wickramasinghe, Tout et al, 2018; https://arxiv.org/pdf/1805.10126v1.pdf)

To ignore this evidence and to maintain without any proof whatsoever that planet-bound abiogenesis, whether on Earth or Mars, is the only permissible way to understand the phenomenon of life is an error that might have adverse implications for the future of science.

Chandra Wickramasinghe

7th June 2018


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