Meteorite representing some form of life in universe – Prof Wickramasinghe said yes, many others said no

Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe, director of the Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology at the University of Buckingham in England, has reported the presence of microscopic biological fossils in a meteorite found in Sri Lanka. However, other scientists are casting doubts on this research.

This report has been published in the Journal of Cosmology.

British professor has reported that fossil of diatom — a type of microscopic algae — is present in the meteorite (which he has named Polonnaruwa) as reported by the Huffington Post. According to Wickramasinghe, meteorite has embedded fossils and there is no earthly contamination.

Fossil diatom in meteorite

Fossil diatom in meteorite (Credit: N. C. Wickramasinghe et al.)

Wickramasinghe is popular for working on theory of “panspermia,” that is the theory of the origin of life. It states that the universe has many seeds of life, which can germinate upon receiving the favorable environment.

“We conclude … that the identification of fossilized diatoms in the Polonnaruwa meteorite is firmly established and unimpeachable,” the article states. “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.”

However, scientists are not considering this as the true research such as some of the astronomers like Phil Plait, who describes Wickramasinghe as a “fringe scientist.”

“Wickramasinghe is fervent proponent of [panspermia]. So much so that he attributes everything to life in space,” Plait writes in Slate.com. “He’s said that the flu comes from space. He’s said SARS comes from space. The list goes on and on. 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.”

Moreover, Journal of Cosmology is also considered as lacking the scientific merit.

“It isn’t a real science journal at all, but is the ginned-up website of a small group of crank academics obsessed with the idea … that life originated in outer space and simply rained down on Earth,” P.Z. Myers, a biologist at the University of Minnesota, Morris, wrote in 2011 on his popular science blog Pharyngula.

Whether scientists agree or not, Wickramasinghe is hard on research, “If only ideas that are considered orthodox are given support through award of grants or publication opportunities, it is certain that the progress of science will be stifled as it was throughout the Middle Ages,” he told the Huffington Post.