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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Space Links

  America's first woman in space, Sally Ride, from the shuttle era dies.Not hust the first generation astronauts going now.
Viking found life on Mars - more
SpaceX will make a share offering in 2013 I think he will do very well indeed.
Elon Musk interview
"Question: What missions will you be doing in 10 years?

Musk: Our goal is to revolutionize space transport. So we'll be doing every kind of space transport, except for suborbital. We'll launch satellites of all shapes and sizes, servicing the space station with cargo and crew, and then the long term objective is to develop a space transport system that will enable humanity to become a multi-planet species.
Spaceport Sweden
Virginia gives tax break to attract space industry
The Virginia General Assembly is soon to consider a bill that will allow an income tax deduction of up to $8,000 (£5,100) for burials in space, WTVR reports.
Nuclear Thermal Rockets Since there is no contact between the reactor and air this does not, except in the event of catastrophic failure, release radioactivity to the atmosphere. Even catastrophe would only mean "it is highly unlikely that a reactor's fuel elements would be spread over a wide area. They are composed of very strong materials, either carbon composites or carbides, and normally coated with zirconium hydride. The solid core NTR fuel itself is conventionally a small percentage of U-235 buried well inside an extremely strong carbon or carbide mixture. Unless the physically small reactors have been run for an extended period, the radioactivity of these elements is quite low and would pose a minimal hazard."
Reaction Engines Ltd a UK company whose new engine is "a breakthrough in aerospace technology that is now allowing the development of engines that will propel aircraft at speeds of up to five times the speed of sound or directly into Earth orbit."
The Register with a tough but fair assessment of what our space industry really is & what government actively isn't doing about it.
Infinite growth on a finite planet - easy peasy Tim Worstall explains why growth is a function of technology not of mineral resources and that there is thus no limitation on this planet. This is what Julian Simon long said and it is certainly true. Not a space article but the obvious corollary is that in an infinite universe our growth capability is infinity squared - can't be bad unless you're against human progress.

Which unfortunately so many parasites are.

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Friday, July 27, 2012

Big Engineering 50 Everybody Working From Home & Working In Space

A robot remotely controlled by a low-wage foreign worker could soon compete with some U.S. workers, suggests MIT doctoral student in information technology Matt Beane in Technology Review....

The next wave promises much more capability per dollar. DARPA recently issued a robotic challenge involving a complex set of tasks to be performed by a semiautonomous, remote-controlled humanoid robot — driving, walking through rubble, replacing a valve.
Progress toward the “avatarization” of the economy has been limited by the speed of Internet connections and the latency involved in long-distance communication. ...Theoretically, too, the distance between robot and worker shouldn’t exceed 1,800 miles: any farther and the operator could get confused by the time lag as signals travel round-trip.
Realistically, however, avatar workers can probably be effective janitors or doctors even if they are farther away and sensory fidelity is weaker. The VGo runs on Verizon’s 4G network, for instance, and the U.S. military’s drone-control facility in Italy is 2,700 miles from Afghanistan...

Telepresence means that in theory, ten, a hundred, or a thousand times as many workers could compete (virtually) for the same work. The same outsourcing logic applies to many high-wage jobs that rely on physical presence and motor skills, including the work done by cardiologists and machinists.
Beane believes outsourcing of nonroutine labor via robotic telepresence could begin to occur on a mass scale within a decade.

  From Kurzweil. I added this comment.
If this makes economic sense for a job as a janitor in New York think how much sense it makes for a platinum miner on the Moon!
Somewhat more difficult to handle because the time lag is 3 seconds there and back but with feedback systems that need not be a problem for almost everything but juggling. Come to think of it juggling is easier there.
Also automata don’t need to breathe, or use up other transported resources, don't need much radiation shielding and can be made much lighter than humans.

    I have written of this before but the possibilities seem to be opening out. While the Moon is quarter of a million miles away so that the send and return speed is 3 seconds I doubt if that is an insuperable or even major problem from almost all applications. If only because gravity being 1/6 of Earth's one has 6 times longer to catch something.

   Also with increasing miniaturisation and the low gravity such waldoes could be made far smaller and lighter than any human. For ones working in orbit, with no gravity, I could imagine spider like remote handled machines whose body was no larger than a couple of cubesats.

   My guess is that if the choice is between being a Remote janitor in California or a Remote solar power satellite assembler in orbit the choice would be obvious.

   If the cost of a remote in orbit could be brought down to the mass of 1/10th of a human  there would immediately be a sizable market for them, even for cubesat sized ones.

   We will need human beings there to fix the unforeseen problems but it also seems possible one could eventually have 1,000 Remote hands for every present one. And Remotes can be run 24/7 by more than one person.. That this could be scalable theoretically until full employment across the world has been achieved , or until everything we want to do in at least near Earth orbit has been done. Of the 2 full employment worldwide looks the closer.

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Panspermia & the Fermi Question

  The Fermi Question which I have discussed previously is - Where is Everybody - why haven't other alien lifeforms evolved and spread around the universe long before we got close to being able to do so. Its a pretty important question to which I know no satisfactory answers.

    Panspermia makes it more difficult because one answer heretofore is that the accidental linking together of enough items able to replicate themselves is so mathematically improbable that it is likely to happen no more than once per galaxy, perhaps once per universe.

    But if any form of panspermia is correct, life is not only not that rare it must be comparatively common  so that excuse goes.

   The next best reason is the assumption that as our ability to manipulate energy and the environment grows our ability to destroy ourselves grows faster and that intelligent civilisations inevitable wipe themselves out.


   I'll come back to that.

   The only other alternative I can think of (& I am very open to ideas) is that some link in the chain other than the development of life is still so mathematically improbable in the rise to our present state that it is still in the around 1 per galaxy. I touched on that before in my essay Life, the Universe and Everything before I had looked at so seriously panspermia.I pointed to the fact that life appeared on Earth almost as soon as we had a surface cool enough to be solid. That is statistically unlikely if life is a random accident and exactly what we would expect if microbes are arriving here from space continuously. To quote myself
"0.5 bn years, or less, possibly much less for life to form.

1 bn to start photosynthesis

1 bn to develop a cell nucleus.

1 bn to produce multi-cellular life.

0.5 bn to get up to the reptiles.

0.2 bn to get to dinosaurs and mammals.

& 0.005bn - maximum time to get from the chimpanzees to us.

Looks to me like the difficult and improbable stuff wasn't the formation of life or the evolution of humans but the evolution of anything bigger than a microbe. Go figure."

  So back to the "we're bound to wipe ourselves out" scenario. I have come up with a problem for that too. The human race is now at the stage where we are within decades, at most, of being able to build a civilisation of space settlements and within a century of being able to build a fully self sustaining O'Neill colony able to leave this solar system. If we hadn't been immersed in ecofascist Luddism we would probably be building the first part of that now.

   When we have life off Earth the entire human civilisation cannot be destroyed by a planetary nuclear war.

   When we have O'Neills able to go to other systems we cannot even exterminate everybody by novaing (my claim to fame) the Sun.

   If we are within a century of that then, if alien civilisations were, or rather had been, in existence in substantial numbers at least some of them would have been bound to get a century or 2 beyond where we are now.

   I don't say insist that such a civilisation would have got beyond the ability to destroy itself, though that might be the case. But I do say that to destroy itself it would have to produce some pretty spectacular side effects. A number of Novas in adjoining systems happening to stars that would not scientifically be expected to to go for billions of years would be the minimum of it.

   Any society that aggressive/expansionist is not going to go quietly into that good night. The astronomers would have seen something sufficiently spectacular and anomalous to recognise, at least potentially, as intelligent action.

   This is not an argument which would have been convincing during the cold war when we were quite clearly stuck on 1 planet with 50,000 nukes, but it is now.

   Of course the same argument applies to any civilisation that survives and keeps growing. I don't necessarily mean growing at the 5% rate of humanity now - Growing at even a thousandth of a per cent, far slower than at any time in known prehistory would triple a society in million years - a mere eyeblink in the age of the galaxy.
   I can conceive of  what was a human type civilisation which had learned and done absolutely everything, though I think it would have to be a post human cybernetic one, which simply decided to switch off. But even that is a stretch.

    I think, that though microbial life is very common, we are the first and only intelligent civilisation.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Scotsman Letter on Warming/Peak Oil Scares & Shetland News One on Tunnels

  This letter, the 3rd of 3 doubting catastrophic warming, is up in the Scotsman today.
In pushing global warming Dr Moreton did previously say that the Oregon Petition (easily the largest expression of scientists' opinion on warming) contained “film celebrities” rather than scientists and that “many” were “funded by the oil industry”. Both claims are serious slurs.
In fact, the overwhelming balance of funding – by tens of billions – has gone into government funding of alarmism. No single scientist anywhere who supports catastrophic warming and does not ultimately get paid by the state has been verified.
Now Dr Moreton has moved on to claim that “oil and gas are running out” (Letters, 24 July). If that were true it would disprove his entire alarmist thesis that burning these will produce catastrophe.
Shale gas has greatly reduced US electricity prices and thus brought them out of recession.
Worst, from the point of view of alarmists, this has has also reduced CO2 output because it has a better energy-to-carbon ratio than coal, possibly better, over the whole cycle, than even windmills.
In the same way, improving technology has allowed Canadian tar sands to be developed so that oil reserves also are greater than at any time. This contrasts with the “environmentalists’” “peak oil in a couple of years” scare stories repeated regularly since the 1960s.
  There has been a too and frowing for some days now between Moreton and another alarmist and several sceptics here and yesterday. One day it will be all the alarmists, next sceptics and so on. so I suspect Moreton will answer tomorrow.

  I was the only one to mention the way he had switched the debate from CAGW, having in my opinion lost on his original argument, to the "peak oil and gas" one which is more than equally wrong. Also the claims that we are going to suffer a catastrophe by burning and that we are going to suffer a catastrophe by not having fuel to burn are clearly mutually incompatible as well as both wrong. It is not unusual for ecofascists to make several assertions and them all to be wrong. It is quite unusual to have them tell 2 mutually incompatible scare stories in the same paragraph.

  This is the 3rd time I had replied here (each answer being partly a repetition of the previous so I will not bother putting them all up) and yesterday got an email from the Scotsman letter editor saying I needed to be 200-250 words, which I made it. I have also added a wordcounter for future use.


I also have this letter, concerning the Shetland Island's Council's opposition to tunnel,  in the online Shetland News. It, in turn has attracted an answer, though not from the council, which I will, in turn reply to.

SHETLAND Island Council are once again choosing ferries for both Whalsay and Yell rather than following the spectacularly successful tunnel programmes of Norway and the Faeroes.

This is unfortunate for the majority of people of those islands since being able to drive, for free, at any time, in a few minutes on roads with a virtually unlimited carrying capacity would obviously be far preferable to having to wait for slow, intermittent and expensive ferries.

It is also unfortunate for everybody in Shetland who has to pay for it.

When the issue of the first ferry came up the council received a quote for £22 million. This is realistic, indeed somewhat above the normal Norwegian costs. In some unexplained manner this metamorphosed into £35 million - possibly the extra £13 million is simply the cost of the council watching it be done. This just happened to be slightly above the price then given for a new ferry.

After the ferry contract was signed a whole range of necessary but unnoticed costs appeared. Between 2001/02 and 2004/05, the net costs of providing the ferry services rose from £6.9m to £12.2m, an increase of 77 per cent over three years.

Over this period the principal cost increases were as follows:

•Wages and salaries grew by 33 per cent to £6.687m;

•Direct finance costs grew by 71 per cent to £1.846m;

•Operating leases on new ships (SIC code 1209) increased from zero in 2001/02 to £1.5m in 2004/05.

The new Whalsay ferry is now priced at £53 million and again they have produced a tunnel cost slightly above that, but without bothering to get a firm quote this time.

If one includes all the costs from when the first tunnel proposal was made to 2032 it seems very unlikely the ratepayers are going to get away with as little as £300 million.

My interest in this is that I have studied the Norwegian and Faeroes 700 km tunnel programmes and proposed a much less ambitions programme for all of Scotland. proposed a scheme of easy road access to most islands off Scotland, including Man, Ireland, Islay, the Hebrides, Orkney and others - easily within the capability Norway has shown. Shetland, 100km from Orkney would currently be a tunnel too far.

This was published by the Scotsman and put before our MSPs who may express an opinion some century soon.

The Norwegian tunnelling programme has been immensely successful, cutting tunnels at an average of under £5million per km (under half the cost the council's £53million Whalsay estimate was based on). For example, the Laerdelstunnelen, at 24.5 km the world's longest road tunnel, cost £119 million. This programme has been a significant factor in making Norway the 2nd richest sizeable country in the world (after Singapore).

By comparison total underwater distances between Mainland, Whalsay, Yell, Unst, Bressay and Fetlar are about 16km. I suspect that if asked to quote for the full range there would be economies of scale.

It is said that when there is a will to fail difficulties can always be found and this seems to have been shown when John Swinney assured Holyrood that a 3 km tunnel under the Forth, as an alternative to a bridge, would cost £6.6 billion, making it the most expensive in the world and 55 times more than the Laerdelstunnelen.

It is possible that there are some in Holyrood who have suggested to the SIC not to embarrass them with a tunnel success. This would explain the preference for the less effective and more expensive ferries.

I hope some reader of Shetland News will bring this to the attention of council employees so that they will be given the chance to explain any errors they believe I have made, or to say what geological or political differences between Shetland and Norway and the Faeroes, would massively change the costs.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Panspermia - Going for the Evidence

   The way to test a scientific theory is to get the evidence. Those who tell you "the debate is over" or there is a greater consensus than over the law of gravity (as Al Gore and the BBC said respectively of global warming) are frauds and charlatans, with no place in any scientific matter.

  So what sort of evidence would prove or disprove microbial life in space as discussed previously? Nothing but finding it could prove it and nothing but looking and failing to find it repeatedly could disprove it.

   I suggest 2 particular places. On a comet and Mars' upper atmosphere.

Searching a Comet

Actually a comet close approach, though not a landing has been made.
NASA's Stardust Mission launched a spacecraft, named Stardust, on February 7, 1999. It flew by Wild 2 on January 2, 2004, and collected particle samples from the comet's coma, which were returned to Earth along with interstellar dust it collected during the journey. 72 close-up shots were taken of Wild 2 by Stardust.

Stardust's "sample return canister," was reported to be in excellent condition when it landed in Utah, on January 15, 2006. A NASA team analyzed the particle capture cells and removed individual grains of comet and interstellar dust, then sent them to about 150 scientists around the globe. NASA is collaborating with The Planetary Society who will run a project called "Stardust@Home", using volunteers to help locate particles on the Stardust Interstellar Dust Collector (SIDC).

As of 2006,[11] the composition of the dust has contained a wide range of organic compounds, including two that contain biologically usable nitrogen. Indigenous aliphatic hydrocarbons were found with longer chain lengths than those observed in the diffuse interstellar medium.

In April 2011, scientists from the University of Arizona discovered evidence for the presence of liquid water. They have found iron and copper sulfide minerals that must have formed in the presence of water. The discovery shatters the existing paradigm that comets never get warm enough to melt their icy bulk.
   Proof of liquid water is certainly an amazing matter & does greatly enhance the habitability of the cometary cloud. On the other hand they didn't actually find living particles. On the 3rd and 4th hands not landing and only examining coma particles does limit the possibilities, the mission wasn't preconfigured to find life, or rather dessicated particles capable of life, and with the material spread around 150 scientists across life rich Earth it is difficult to think anything could have been found which could not have been considered contamination. As Professor Wickramasinghe said
The 2005 Deep Impact mission to Comet Tempel 1 discovered a mixture of organic and clay particles inside the comet. One theory for the origins of life proposes that clay particles acted as a catalyst, converting simple organic molecules into more complex structures. The 2004 Stardust Mission to Comet Wild 2 found a range of complex hydrocarbon molecules - potential building blocks for life.
The Cardiff team suggests that radioactive elements can keep water in liquid form in comet interiors for millions of years, making them potentially ideal "incubators" for early life. They also point out that the billions of comets in our solar system and across the galaxy contain far more clay than the early Earth did. The researchers calculate the odds of life starting on Earth rather than inside a comet at one trillion trillion (10 to the power of 24) to one against.
Professor Wickramasinghe said: "The findings of the comet missions, which surprised many, strengthen the argument for panspermia. We now have a mechanism for how it could have happened. All the necessary elements - clay, organic molecules and water - are there. The longer time scale and the greater mass of comets make it overwhelmingly more likely that life began in space than on earth."
  So lets send one, or better several, new probes to comets. The Stardust probe cost NASA $300 million (£190m) but with SpaceX having cut costs 20 fold and miniaturisation & other technology having also proceeded since then a 20 fold reduction in costs is reasonable. Particularly if the contract is given to the lowest commercial bidder. I suggest a 2 part process. Government should offer the money for a vehicle able to soft land a package of agreed size on a comet agreed to look a good candidate and universities & other organisations should compete to be chosen to have their instrument package landed. Cannibalising my previous asteroid prize motion
the Scottish Parliament to offer a prize of 15 million pounds to the first Scottish group to soft land a vehicle on an agreed comet, carrying a nominated package of ? kg in a condition to deploy.

  Or the British, or US, or Texan or New Mexican or Singaporean or wherever. Finding proof that life is spread across the universe is certainly something not beneath the most ambitious nation.

Searching Mars
But this is a new idea all my own. If Wickramasinghe's balloon experiment have found microbial life in Earth's upper atmosphere which did not come from Earth's surface then there should be comparable amounts of life in Mars' upper atmosphere. The presumed lack of such life on the ground, at least in common amounts, would be irrelevant if it didn't come from there and if Mars is close to as habitable as Antarctica on the surface its upper atmosphere would be a good a home to life as Earth's. But life found in the upper atmosphere would be proof of panspermia, whether it came from space or the surface or both.

    Sending a probe to dive through the tenuous upper atmosphere of Mars would be much easier than making a soft landing like Beagle. Such a probe could even return samples to Earth or perhaps Earth orbit where anything found could not credibly be put down to contamination with Earth's biosphere.

   When the Viking Lander first tested for life it was declared not to have been found because only 1 of the 4 experiments produced positive results. While the results haven't changed conclusions, for many, have.
Of the four experiments, only the Labeled Release (LR) experiment returned a positive result, showing increased 14CO2 production on first exposure of soil to water and nutrients. All scientists agree on two points from the Viking missions: that radiolabeled 14CO2 was evolved in the Labeled Release experiment, and that the GC-MS detected no organic molecules. However, there are vastly different interpretations of what those results imply.

The image taken by Viking probes resembling a human face caused many to speculate that it was the work of an extraterrestrial civilization.One of the designers of the Labeled Release experiment, Gilbert Levin, believes his results are a definitive diagnostic for life on Mars. However, this result is disputed by many scientists, who argue that superoxidant chemicals in the soil could have produced this effect without life being present. An almost general consensus discarded the Labeled Release data as evidence of life, because the gas chromatograph & mass spectrometer, designed to identify natural organic matter, did not detect organic molecules.The results of the Viking mission concerning life are considered by the general expert community, at best, as inconclusive.
  I find "inconclusive" hard to argue with but since the same Viking experiment carried out in Antarctica also failed to find life there it is reasonable to assume the fault lies more in the experiment than in life not actually being there.
    More recent observations have found both methane and formaldehyde in the Martian atmosphere.
Trace amounts of methane in the atmosphere of Mars were discovered in 2003 and verified in 2004. As methane is an unstable gas, its presence indicates that there must be an active source on the planet in order to keep such levels in the atmosphere. It is estimated that Mars must produce 270 ton/year of methane, but asteroid impacts account for only 0.8% of the total methane production. Although geologic sources of methane such as serpentinization are possible, the lack of current volcanism, hydrothermal activity or hotspots are not favorable for geologic methane....
Mars Express Orbiter, detected traces of formaldehyde in the atmosphere of Mars. Vittorio Formisano, the director of the PFS, has speculated that the formaldehyde could be the byproduct of the oxidation of methane, and according to him, would provide evidence that Mars is either extremely geologically active, or harbouring colonies of microbial life   Again not conclusive but that is, again, quite a lot of evidence piling up that life is indeed tenacious enough to be there. If I were betting I would bet on it being there but the only way we will know for sure is by going and looking.
   Finding life beyond Earth means we are not alone in the universe (though it may not mean there is other intelligence). That would be one of the most important things in human history and well worth 0.0002%  of annual human wealth (£100m or 1 minutes worth).
   The philosophical aspects bear study.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Scotsman Article by Monteith Enthuses for UKIP

  Brian Monteith, the former Conservative MSP (& also formely that party's source of ideas before they decided to do without) has written about UKIP in his regular Scotsman column. It is as supportive of the party as any non-party writer could be.

David Cameron was challenged to a public debate about Britain’s European Union membership by Nigel Farage MEP,... Downing Street had not responded, preferring, it would seem, to avoid giving the challenge any credibility; but such an approach is out of date, for disaffected Conservatives have been investing credibility in UKIP for quite a while now.

Later in the week the Prime Minister gave an interview where he said he could never campaign for Britain to leave the EU. What, not even if negotiation of new treaties as a result of the eurozone crisis creates a federal system without the opt-outs David Cameron wants? Such assertions make the Prime Minister UKIP’s best British recruiting sergeant....

of those who voted Conservative in the 2010 general election some 34 per cent are no longer committed to supporting the party again; 14 per cent don’t know how they’ll vote, 10 per cent will vote for UKIP and 10 per cent will vote for Labour, the Liberal Democrats or someone else. Thus, UKIP may take as many votes from the Conservatives as all the other parties put together can.
...the by-election that will follow if former Liberal Democrat Cabinet minister Chris Huhne is found guilty of perverting the course of justice and forced to resign his seat.

.... The verdict would be known just as the Tory party conference gets underway. While the date for any by-election would be in the gift of the Liberal Democrats, it would need to be held within six months and it would be reasonable to expect that UKIP is already preparing for that eventuality.

Who would be UKIP’s candidate be? Well it is surely no coincidence that Farage visited the seat last week. Eastleigh was a solid Conservative seat from 1955 until it was lost in the 1994 by-election to the Liberal Democrats following the bizarre death of its new Tory MP, Stephen Milligan. The UKIP candidate in that by-election was none other than a young Farage. Last week Farage said his visit was “like coming home”.

As with any political strategy there is a Plan B, and for UKIP that is the longer term goal of building upon its second place in the 2009 European Elections where Labour could only manage an embarrassing third. Coming first would be incredible but remaining second would importantly maintain its momentum for the possibility is that Labour and the Conservatives would swap places and this time it would be David Cameron who would be highly embarrassed – the year before the 2015 general election.

UKIP’s message of having a straight Yes/No vote is landing on fertile soil. How this might affect a Scottish independence referendum is now the subject of much speculation.

Nigel Farage’s oratorial demolition of European politicians from former President Sarkozy on the Europhile right to social democrat President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso, as well as euro currency bankers and officials, regularly goes viral on YouTube, gaining audiences approaching a million that Cameron or Nick Clegg could only dream of.

In Scotland UKIP has struggled to make the same scale of impact, probably because its obvious appeal to disaffected Conservatives is like aiming at a target that is getting smaller even as you get closer to it. ...

Finding a good local and well known candidate and using a second vote strategy, such as not standing any first past the post candidates but appealing to electors, but especially Conservatives, for their second vote might then reap rewards.

  The article in full is here. In my opinion Brian is one of the few Holyrood politicians to be more than a cardboard cut out. Most of them couldn't express a coherent thought if their political lives depended on it. Fortunately for them being unable to express a coherent thought is clearly the way to advancement in Scotland's political stitch up.

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Panspermia - The Evidence

  I have recently been reading about panspermia, the theory that life originated not on Earth but in space, probably on comets, and will thus have crossed and settled the universe. I am impressed with the balance of evidence. Not convinced, because one should not make up one's mind before there is sufficient evidence, but I would bet on it being more likely than a purely terrestrial origin of life.

    This is by Chandra Wickramasinghe, the most prominent living proponent.:

The radical answer proposed by Fred Hoyle and myself in the late 1970s was that we came from space! Our genes and those of all living forms on Earth were brought here by comets, neatly packaged within cosmic microorganisms. The idea was not plucked out of the skies, but was the result of careful analysis of astronomical and biological data over several years.

we argued the molecular arrangements bearing this information could not arise under the hopelessly diminutive conditions that existed in a “warm little terrestrial pond.” The origin of life must surely involve the combined resources of all the stars in all the galaxies of the Universe. Once originated, however, the dispersal and distribution of life across cosmic distances would be assured by virtue of the well-attested resistance of bacteria to the harshest of conditions in space.

The next fact in our favour was that life appears on early Earth when comets were colliding with great frequency and when the planet had neither a stable ocean or atmosphere.2 The conditions on Earth at this time were manifestly unsuitable for producing even the chemical building blocks of life indigenously.

In the late 1970s there was also a growing body of evidence for biochemical substances in the interstellar clouds of deep space.3 Astronomical observations, first made by my brother Professor Dayal Wickramasinghe of the Australian National University and David Allen, showed in 1979 that cosmic dust had a composition similar to dried out bacteria.4 They also showed the same conclusion to hold for the dust that flowed out of Halley’s comet in March 1986.5 The discovery that clinched our hypothesis was the realisation that one third of all the available carbon in interstellar space had to be tied up in the form of hollow organic particles with the average size of a bacterium and with spectral properties that could not be distinguished from biological material. No other process apart from biology seemed reasonable to invoke in order to produce the vast amount (some 1030 tonnes) of bacteria-like matter that existed in our galaxy alone.
More Evidence

A 2008 analysis of 12C/13C isotopic ratios of organic compounds found in the Murchison meteorite indicates a non-terrestrial origin for these molecules rather than terrestrial contamination....

On August 8, 2011, a report, based on NASA studies with meteorites  found on Earth was published suggesting building blocks of DNA (adenine, guanine and related organic molecules) may have been formed extraterrestrially in outer space. In October 2011, scientists reported that cosmic dust contains complex organic matter

Of the four Viking biological experiments performed by the Mars lander Viking in 1976, only the LR (Labeled Release) experiment gave results that were initially indicative of life (metabolism)....

Microstructures in ALH84001 claimed to be of biogenic originA meteorite originating from Mars known as ALH84001 was shown in 1996 to contain microscopic structures resembling small terrestrial nanobacteria....

On May 11, 2001, two researchers from the University of Naples claimed to have found live extraterrestrial bacteria inside a meteorite...
An Indian and British team of researchers led by Chandra Wickramasinghe reported on 2001 that air samples over Hyderabad, India, gathered from the stratosphere by the Indian Space Research Organization, contained clumps of living cells. Wickramasinghe calls this "unambiguous evidence for the presence of clumps of living cells in air samples from as high as 41 km, above which no air from lower down would normally be transported...Pushkar Ganesh Vaidya from the Indian Astrobiology Research Centre reported in his 2009 paper that "the three microorganisms captured during the balloon experiment do not exhibit any distinct adaptations expected to be seen in microorganisms occupying a cometary niche".[59][60]

In 2005 an improved experiment was conducted by ISRO. On April 10, 2005 air samples were collected from six places at different altitudes from the earth ranging from 20 km to more than 40 km. Adequate precautions were taken to rule out any contamination from any microorganisms already present in the collection tubes. The samples were tested at two labs in India. The labs found 12 bacterial and 6 fungal colonies in these samples... Out of the 12 bacterial samples, three were identified as new species and named Janibacter hoyeli.sp.nov (after Fred Hoyle), Bacillus isronensis.sp.nov (named after ISRO) and Bacillus aryabhati (named after the ancient Indian mathematician, Aryabhata). These three new species showed that they were more resistant to UV radiation than similar bacteria found on Earth.

A NASA research group found a small number of Streptococcus mitis bacteria living inside the camera of the Surveyor 3 spacecraft when it was brought back to Earth by Apollo 12. They believed that the bacteria survived since the time of the craft's launch to the Moon.

  None of these are conclusive, even for the finding of previously unknown life at 40km, it getting there from Earth's surface by some unknown weather combination cannot be entirely excluded. Equally spectrographic analysis of galactic light is more consistent with complex hollow carbon based structures than simple ones

  But there are a lot of separate pieces of evidence and no actual evidence that life originated here. The only reason for expecting a terrestrial origin, and it is a strong one I have used before, is that if life is common we should have expected the development of intelligent life and its settlement of the galaxy long before we came down form the trees.

 Other reading

  Cosmic Ancestry - book length series of articles.

  Panspermia Theory

  Wickramasinghe interview

  The argument for and indeed against panspermia does suffer from a lack of evidence. I will discuss how to change that tomorrow. And philosophical implications after.

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