Wednesday, March 13th 2013, 11:59 AM EDT
No, I'm not into aliens on Earth etc. What I am into is "objective" reporting, and as you will read below there is some of that in this report....I think there is an element of truth in that our world is made up of some "alien bacterial life", but how it survives on the back of a meteorite that burns up in the Earth's atmosphere is not clear...if anyone knows the answer to that question drop me a line...enjoy!
Algae-like structures found inside fragments of a meteorite which struck Sri Lanka last year prove that life exists elsewhere in the Universe, a new study claims.
A paper by an international team of scientists, their second on the subject, makes the extraordinary claim that electron microscope images of the rocks have revealed tiny fossilised life forms from outer space.
The authors are convinced that their findings offer firm evidence of panspermia, the hypothesis that life exists throughout the Universe and is spread by meteoroids, asteroids and planetoids.
However, sceptics are already lining up to pour scorn on their methodology.
MailOnline first reported in January the claims by Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe, of the Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology, that investigations of the meteorite had revealed evidence of alien life.
He is joint author of a new study, just published in the Journal of Cosmology, which reiterates the controversial claims on the basis of a new analysis of the rocks.
The paper tells how on the evening of December 29 last year a bright yellow fireball lit up the skies over Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka, turning green as it disintegrated on entry into the Earth's atmosphere.
Blazing hot, sparkling fragments rained down on the villages and paddy fields below, according to reports, leaving some witnesses with burns and giving off fumes with a strong odour of asphalt.
Local police collected samples of the curious rocks and handed them to the Medical Research Institute of the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health, who then passed them on to researchers at Cardiff University for further analysis, the study says.
In total Jamie Wallis, of Cardiff's School of Mathematics, and colleagues received 628 fragments purportedly from the meteorite - three of which, they say, were 'clearly identified as possible meteorites'.
In the latest study, the researchers make the extraordinary claim than these three rocks contain fossilised biological structures fused into the rock matrix.
Furthermore, they say, their tests have ruled out the possibility of terrestrial contamination.
The team published electron microscope images of structures within the stones which they say show a complex, thick-walled, carbon-rich microfossil about 100 micrometres across.
Another image, they say, shows well-preserved flagella 100 micrometres long but only two micrometres in diameter.
The researchers interpret that unusual long and thin configuration 'as indicating a low-gravity, low-pressure environment and rapid freeze-drying' - which could only happen in outer space.
A previous study, led by Professor Wickramasinghe and published in the Journal of Cosmology in January, also claimed to have found 'microscopic fossilized diatoms (a basic form of algae)' in the samples.
However, the professor admitted at the time they the paper was a rush job and he and his colleagues did not have time to conduct the necessarily analyses to confirm it was a meteorite.
To make up for that omission, in the latest study Wallis and his colleagues also measured the chemical make up of the samples to determine their origin, claiming that low levels of nitrogen rule our the possibility of contamination by modern organisms.
The researchers say their findings offer 'clear and convincing evidence that these obviously ancient remains of extinct marine algae found embedded in the Polonnaruwa meteorite are indigenous to the stones and not the result of post-arrival microbial contaminants.'
They add: 'The presence of fossilized biological structures provides compelling evidence in support of the theory of cometary panspermia first proposed over thirty years ago.'
The study backs up the claims of Professor Wickramasinghe's widely rubbished January paper which claimed to have found evidence of alien life in the same rocks.
A mathematician by training, Professor Wickramasinghe, 74, claims microbes from outer space arrived on our planet from comets which then 'multiplied and seeded' to form our life 3.8billion years ago.
He also believes that pathogens like the SARS virus arrived here from deep space.
'We are all aliens - we share a cosmic ancestry,' he said at the time of the original study's publication.
'Each time a new planetary system forms a few surviving microbes find their way into comets.
'These then multiply and seed other planets.
'These latest finds are just more evidence to point to the overwhelming fact that life on Earth began on other worlds.'
Professor Wickramasinghe was head of Cardiff University's Centre for Astrobiology until two years ago when funding for the department was withdrawn and he was dismissed from his post.
The controversial professor, the only scientist to testify against evolution in the famous 1981 creationist trial in Arkansas, has since carried on the project as a private company and charity.
Critics have already lined up to rubbish the latest study's claims and to suggest that the methodology of the researchers was also flawed.
Phil Plait, author of Slate's Bad Astronomy blog, said: 'I read the paper, and really it’s more of the same as from the first paper.
'In some ways, it’s even shakier; they provide lots of technical data that gives their work a veneer of credibility, but when you look a bit deeper you find they didn’t do a lot of critically necessary tests to establish the veracity of their claims.'
Plait claims the tests undertaken by Wallis and his colleagues did not go far enough to confirm that the rock samples they analysed were in fact from the meteor that appeared over Sri Lanka in December, and, even if they were from space, the analysis was insufficient to eliminate the possibility of contamination here on Earth.
He points out that another meteorite fell to Earth in the same area in 2004 and any samples picked up could have in fact been from this event - long enough ago for the rocks to have become thoroughly contaminated.
And he adds that nowhere in the latest paper do the researchers indicate that they have undertaken the usual precautions to minimise findings which may have been caused by contamination.
'So, they find some rocks, they claim (without enough evidence) that they're meteorites, and they claim (without evidence) they're from a recent meteorite fall,' says Plait. 'They find diatoms, and they claim (without controlling for contamination) that not only these diatoms came from space, but that meteorites like this seeded Earth with life.
'Which is more likely: that, or that they found a rock from Earth that already had diatoms in it?'
When Professor Wickramasinghe's January paper was published, Monica Grady, professor of Planetary Sciences at the Open University’s Faculty of Science, told MailOnline she found the whole thing ‘laughable’.
‘There are serious inconsistencies with the data presented in the paper,' she said.
‘The most important is that the rock they have found is yet to be proven to be a meteorite.
‘Until that is done, no credence can be placed on the findings presented, especially when they are published in a non-mainstream journal.'
Click source to read FULL report from Damien Gayle