Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe
News – By Walter Jayawardhana reporting from Los Angeles

Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe said the latest discoveries reported last week implying the existence of hundreds of billions of alien planets has an intimate connection with his theory that life is exceedingly commonplace in the universe.

Now Director of a new research Centre studying all aspects of Life in the Universe, the Buckingham Center for Astrobiology, Professor Wickramasinghe wrote in the online Journal of Cosmology that the new discoveries connect in an important way with recent work published in Volume 16 of the Journal of Cosmology in which it is argued that evidence for microbial life is everywhere in the galaxy.  Astronomical discoveries in recent years have shown that exceedingly complex organic molecules resembling life chemicals are widespread in the universe accounting for about one third of all the carbon in interstellar space.

Professor Wickramasinghe and his colleague , the late Fred Hoyle fathered the revolutionary idea that  microbes travelled on comets from deep space and seeded the life on earth distancing from the then existing notion that life originated on planet earth . The theory became known as panspermia – evidence for which has grown over the years.

Commenting on the recent discoveries of alien planets  the Buckingham Center in a statement said, “ Precisely 50 years ago ideas relating to the extraterrestrial origins of life began their slow journey to the realms of orthodox science. The Russian astronaut Yuri Gagarin had just circumnavigated our planet in a spaceship; a paper by Prof Chandra Wickramasinghe, Director of the Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology and the late Sir Fred Hoyle on carbonaceous dust in the deepest recesses of space was published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. In 1962, and throughout a full two decades previously, astronomers had convinced themselves that cosmic dust was comprised of inorganic ice, similar to the ice particles that exist in the Earth’s cumulous clouds above which Gagarin had soared. The suggestion of carbonaceous grains caused instant and bitter controversy, and the possibility of a connection with life on Earth was outrageous heresy. This debate has taken nearly 5 decades to resolve, with new data from a fleet of space craft carrying sophisticated equipment, and thousands of investigators contributing new results and new ideas. The organic nature of dust in interstellar space and comets is now finally established, and the connection with life is also beginning to take shape. This scientific detective story has been published in an article by Chandra Wickramasinghe of the Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology in the online Journal of Cosmology.”

Wickramasinghe said “It’s been a long and bitter struggle to see a transformation of thinking from Earth-centered theories of life to considering the proposition that life could be a truly cosmic phenomenon. After 50 years of argument the picture is emerging that we are, in a sense, all aliens!”

In an email interview with this correspondent , he said, “The evidence for alien planets in our galaxy has become ever stronger in recent times. The discovery of billions of free floating super-Earths, not connected with any star was reported less than a year ago by T. Sumi and colleagues.  The technique for finding these planets (gravitational microlensing) was pioneered by Rudolph Schild at Harvard in 1996, who already argued that dark matter (missing mass) in our galaxy was comprised of rogue planets.  This week A. Cassan and colleagues argue again for hundreds of billions of planets orbiting stars in the galaxy.  These discoveries connect in an important way with a recent paper by me published in the Journal of Cosmology in which it is argued that evidence for microbial life is everywhere in the galaxy, accounting for about one third of the carbon in interstellar space The discovery of trillions of alien planets, must mean that life is extremely commonplace in the galaxy. A large fraction of the rogue planets in space have habitable zones beneath thick hydrogen atmospheres. Microbes floating in space would take root within the habitable zones of hundreds of billions of super Earths in space.”

He concluded, “Billions of Earth-like planets imply Earth-like life. We are part of a chain of being that connects life of Earth with the most distant parts of the Universe.”(EOM)