Meteorite's Discovery Piques Scientists' Interest in Possibility of Extraterrestrial Life
By: April Carson
A British professor of astrobiology has asserted that a meteorite found in Sri Lanka contains microscopic biological fossils — proof, he claims, that life exists beyond Earth. Other scientists have cast doubt on his claim, however.
According to Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe, director of the Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology at the University of Buckingham in England, diatoms — a type of microscopic algae — found in the meteorite are extraterrestrial in origin. This information comes from an article he published in the Journal of Cosmology and was later reported by Huffington Post.
The meteorite, which fell to Earth in December 2012, was discovered by a farmer in the village of Araganwila. It weighed about two kilograms (4.4 pounds) and was later studied by Wickramasinghe and his team.
In his article, Wickramasinghe claims that the diatoms found in the meteorite are "biomarkers" that suggest the presence of extraterrestrial life. He argues that the diatoms could not have been created by earthly processes and must have come from space.
The theory of "panspermia" proposes that life exists throughout the universe and planets like Earth are seeded by comets and meteorites, according to BusinessDayLive.com. This theory is well-known among astronomical communities because Wickramasinghe promotes it.
Wickramasinghe's evidence for extraterrestrial life comes from the fact that diatoms are found in the Polonnaruwa meteorite. He believes that they could not have come from Earth, and must be proof of alien activity.
The article concludes that the identification of fossilized diatoms in the Polonnaruwa meteorite is reliable and unquestionable. Since this meteorite is an extinct comet fragment, it bolsters the theory that comets may carry microbial life within them - a process known as cometary panspermia.
This theory has been met with criticism from the scientific community, who claim that the diatoms could have come from Earth. However, Wickramasinghe's theory is still taken seriously by many scientists, and further research is being done in order to determine the truth.
Nevertheless, Wickramasinghe's mainstream astronomer colleagues, such as Phil Plait, have met his latest report with much skepticism.
According to Slate.com, Wickramasinghe is a huge supporter of panspermia, and Plait says he attributes way too much to space. He believes that the flu and SARS come from outer space despite there being no evidence whatsoever. Because of this, Plait thinks Wickramasinghe may be biased towards panspermia.
The Journal of Cosmology has been repeatedly reprimanded for publishing articles that lack scientific evidence. In 2011, P.Z. Myers--a biologist from the University of Minnesota--commented on his blog Pharyngula that "...the website in question isn't affiliated with any credible scientific institution and is instead full of quacks who believe life came from outer space."
The diatoms' extraterrestrial origins were called into question by scientists, who noted that they are indistinguishable from Earthbound diatoms: "These," Plait wrote on Slate.com, "aren’t evidence of life from space, they’re evidence of life on Earth."
According to Plait, the meteorite might not actually be a meteorite because "it isn't rounded," it looks too crumbly," and its structure is incorrect. Carbonaceous chondrites often look like small stones that are more solid and compact with an entirely different structure.
After examining the rock, I found that it was filled with fresh-water diatoms native to Earth. Based off of this information, my guess is that the rock came from a river bed or any other location containing water.
Even though others may not believe him, Wickramasinghe is confident in his study. He told the Huffington Post that "If only ideas that are considered orthodox are given support through award of grants or publication opportunities, it is certain progress of science will halt as it did during the Middle Ages."
While the discovery of this rock is certainly interesting, it doesn't necessarily mean that there is extraterrestrial life on Mars. However, it does raise the possibility and pique the interest of scientists. The structure of the rock is different than anything that has been found on Mars before, which could be indicative of something new or simply a result of the conditions on the planet. Either way, it's an exciting discovery that could lead to further understanding of our neighboring planet.
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About the Blogger:
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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