Scientists have been searching for proof of extraterrestrial life for ages now, and every once in a while someone will come along and claim they’ve finally found it. So far, those claims have all been disputed or disproved. But brace yourself for a new round, because one scientist claims to have uncovered fossilized remains of extraterrestrial life inside of a meteorite. Some of his colleagues, however, suggest that he’s not the most reputable source…
The meteorite was found in the village of Polonnaruwa in Sri Lanka, and a scientist named Chandra Wickramasinghe believes it is proof of life outside of our planet. Wickramasinghe — the director of the Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology at the University of Buckingham in the UK — wrote a paper on his findings, entitled “Fossil Diatoms in a New Carbonaceous Meteorite.” It will be published in the Journal of Cosmology. Wickramasinghe explains:
We conclude … that the identification of fossilised diatoms in the Polonnaruwa meteorite is firmly established and unimpeachable. Since this meteorite is considered to be an extinct cometary fragment, the idea of microbial life carried within comets and the theory of cometary panspermia is thus vindicated.
Wickramasinghe and his partner — the late British astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle — developed a theory called “panspermia.” This theory centers on the idea that life exists throughout the universe and is distributed through meteoroids and asteroids.
Needless to say, there are some skeptics eager to debunk Wickramasinghe’s claim. They include astronomer Phil Plait, who has his own ideas about Wickramasinghe, his work, and his panspermia theory. Plait is raising a lot of red flags about Wickramasinghe’s findings. On Slate, Plait writes:
Wickramasinghe is a fervent proponent of [panspermia]. Like, really fervent. So much so that he attributes everything to life in space. He’s claimed living cells found in the stratosphere come from space. (There is no evidence at all they do, and it’s far more likely they are terrestrial). … Wickramasinghe jumps on everything, with little or no evidence, and says it’s from outer space, so I think there’s a case to be made for a bias on his part.
But Wickramasinghe defends his findings and work in the astrobiology field. He calls out Plait’s claim of his method’s being “unorthodox” by stating the progress of science is through innovation rather than convention. In an email to the Huffington Post, Wickramasinghe says:
Over a few years, after a great deal of model-fitting, we came to the conclusion that material similar to biomaterial fitted all the available data in astronomy … We considered the possibility that biology (microbiology) had a universal character, and no observations in astronomy or new information from biology has provided contrary evidence.