back to article Douglas Adams was RIGHT! TINY ALIENS are invading Earth, say boffins

Aliens rained down on Earth from space, possibly sprinkling microbes on our once lifeless planet, according to boffins from the University of Sheffield. And the scientists claim they managed to photograph one of the extraterrestrial blighters from a balloon. The balloon was launched to a height of 27km, which the eggheads …

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  1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    Joke

    Moonlighting?

    And the scientists claim they managed to photograph one of the extraterrestrial blighters from a balloon.

    OK, so who's going to talk to our intrepid Playmonaut about his covert second job?

    1. Roger Greenwood
      Alien

      Re: Moonlighting?

      And I hope the next time he ascends he will be provided with suitable protection to prevent infection.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Moonlighting?

        One of those London Rubber Company hazmat suits should do the trick nicely, although depending on where he lands he might have some explaining to do.

      2. Mike Richards

        Re: Moonlighting?

        Screw *his* protection - what about us?

        Do we really want Lester re-enacting The Quatermass Experiment?

        We'll have to plunge the Playmonaut into 100% alcohol on his return - it's the only way to be sure.

        I suspect he won't protest too much.

    2. IT Hack

      Yippee-ki-yay, Motherfucker.

      Was the name ot the alien Hans?

    3. Death Boffin
      Coat

      Re: Moonlighting?

      >OK, so who's going to talk to our intrepid Playmonaut about his covert second job?

      Um, you mean panspermia?

      1. cortland

        Re: Moonlighting?

        Nah, panspermia is a legal defense in a paternity suit.

  2. DJV Silver badge
    Alien

    Now...

    ...if they can be found at 42km above the earth then the boffins would definitely be right.

    1. oolor

      Re: Now...

      No doubt, considering that jet powered flight reached the 27000 m level 55 years ago (F 104), it is hardly a surprise that one could find simple 'life' or proto-materials. Explaining how they survived deep space/solar radiation for any significant period of time has been a bit lacking to say the least, and the Mars theory seems unlikely what with recent findings or lack thereof wrt methane.

      1. Dexter

        Re: Now...

        Mars doesn't have life now, but was more hospitable to life a few billion years ago, when it still had a thick atmosphere and liquid water on the surface.

        It's likely to have been hospitable to life before Earth was, so entirely reasonable that life could have been carried here from Mars.

      2. G Watty What?
        Alien

        Re: Now...

        I'd say the chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one.

        1. Moosh
          Thumb Up

          Re: Now...

          And still, they come.

  3. Tanuki
    WTF?

    Journal of Cosmology?

    Having a paper "published in the Journal of Cosmology" doesn't mean it is actually science, any more than having a reader's letter published in the Witley Scrotum Herald means you're a journalist.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Journal of Cosmology?

      Having a paper published in the Journal of Cosmology means it definitely isn't science.

      1. AdamT

        Re: Journal of Cosmology?

        The Bad Astronomer has a full takedown on this: http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2013/09/20/et_claims_of_alien_life_in_earth_s_atmosphere_are_unfounded.html

        tl;dr - is this evidence of microbes from space? No, not even close

        1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          Re: Re: Journal of Cosmology?

          "is this evidence of microbes from space? No, not even close"

          Aw, and deny us our Douglas Adams headline? :-(

          C.

          1. AdamT

            Re: Journal of Cosmology?

            well, you had your cake with the headline but you got to eat it too with these gems: "(get your pinch of salt ready)" and, my fave, "suspiciously easy to read" !

          2. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

            Re: Journal of Cosmology?

            Of course Douglas Adams was right. About Life, Universe and Everything.

          3. solidsoup

            I find your use of the word 'boffin' offensive

            People behind this study simply do not deserve the title.

            1. Jedit
              Joke

              Re: I find your use of the word 'boffin' offensive

              Why so angry? Nobody's asking YOU to boff them, are they?

        2. WatAWorld

          Re: Journal of Cosmology?

          " The Bad Astronomer has a full takedown on this: http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2013/09/20/et_claims_of_alien_life_in_earth_s_atmosphere_are_unfounded.html "

          Excellent article and worded in the style of The Reg. I wonder if The Reg would consider articles from him.

  4. hplasm Silver badge
    Alien

    Eek!

    I know that photo...

    Andromeda.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066769/

    1. Craigie

      Re: Eek!

      Quick, save yourself, start drinking!

  5. DialTone

    There's a fire, sir!

    They already have Andromeda programmed! The purpose of Scoop was to find new biological weapons in outer space, and then use Wildfire to develop them!

  6. Matt 21

    Strange

    ...but my wife doesn't appear to be herself lately. She lacks emotion and...... she just changed overnight. I noticed other people have been posting similar messages... I wonder what could be happening.......

    1. Aitor 1
      Joke

      Re: Strange

      Human!!!

    2. wikkity

      Re: she just changed overnight

      You get married yesterday?

  7. Crisp Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Conspiracy Theorists

    They are going to be all over this.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Conspiracy Theorists

      This is all over the conspiracy theorists!

  8. another_vulture

    LOHAN contamination.

    Clearly, there are other balloons in the sky that may have introduced material into the upper stratosphere. Probability is miniscule, but more likely than a continuous rain of microbes from spaaace. In fact a concentration in the upper atmosphere that is high enough to detect in a single sample drawer implies a concentration in space that satellite dust collection experiments would have found by now.

    1. Amonynous

      Right with you there

      How about the fact that there were rocket launches on 25th and 27th July (well within the six day window in the paper? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_in_spaceflight#July One of those was from Kourou, which is a km or two from the sea.

      You know, the big wet place where diatoms live. The big wet place where seabirds eat stuff from. Stuff that probably has diatoms trapped in various orifaces, not to mention being covered in diatomy seawater. Seabirds that like to crap all over other stuff left in the open. Stuff like giant space rockets a couple of km from the sea.

      Occam's razor my arse.

      1. Amonynous

        Re: Right with you there

        Or come to think of it, could have been from any space launch near the sea really. No reason why the diatom-infested crap has to shake loose inside the atmosphere at all. Could have been released in to LEO during staging or when the payload faring is removed, etc.. Give it a few years of minuscule atmospheric drag and it's going to de-orbit eventually.

        I think my bird crap theory is infinitely more plausible than their totally crap theory.

        (Spelled 'Orifices' wrong above, so sorry for that).

      2. Narlaquin

        Re: Right with you there

        Phil Plait is not exactly enamoured with the report neither

        http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2013/09/20/et_claims_of_alien_life_in_earth_s_atmosphere_are_unfounded.html

        1. John Deeb

          Re: Right with you there

          Plait is a bit of an idiot the moment he asks " why wasn’t it embedded in some bit of rock?". Eh-mm perhaps it wouldn't stay up that long with the added weight? So perhaps we have a self-selecting mechanism here: the most clean and free of soil being the most available.

          As far as his other brilliant deduction goes : "And just because they can’t think of a way to get it up there doesn’t mean there isn’t one". And one way to find out would be to take a sample and perhaps get an idea where it was coming from?

          Phil is spot on about a couple of other things though. Just overreaching a bit.

          1. asdf Silver badge
            Coffee/keyboard

            Re: Right with you there

            >Which unfortunately makes it likely their efforts will shortly be 'successfully' replicated.

            New keyboard sir.

      3. oolor

        Re: Right with you there

        >Occam's razor my arse.

        That explains where the contamination occurred and possibly any 'foreign' bodies.

    2. Joe 35
      Thumb Up

      Re: LOHAN contamination.

      <<In fact a concentration in the upper atmosphere that is high enough to detect in a single sample drawer implies a concentration in space that satellite dust collection experiments would have found by now.>>

      I suspect it implies a concentration thick enough you wouldn't be able to see the planets let alone the stars.

    3. auburnman
      Facepalm

      Re: LOHAN contamination.

      Other balloons? Rocket launches? For my money the microbes hitched a lift up to that altitude on the same flight as the sampling kit. Their shield may have prevented the sample drawer being contaminated directly by the balloon, but the balloon must have contaminated the atmosphere being sampled. Or the microbes were on the outside of the sampling box and shook loose at sample time. I can't see how this method could possibly produce an uncontaminated sample (Which unfortunately makes it likely their efforts will shortly be 'successfully' replicated.)

      1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

        Re: LOHAN contamination.

        "microbes hitched a lift up"

        I shall believe that only when their towels are recovered.

  9. James Wheeler

    Occam's growing a beard...

    Readers are advised to check the Wikipedia entry on the Journal of Cosmology immediately after reading this piece.

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  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Journal of Cosmology = garbage

    It's about as bat-shit insane as the Time Cube guy, and this is not the first time that the guys from Uni. Sheff. have gotten mixed up with them - you've reported on them before, the last time they discovered some bullshit so-called proof of panspermia. It was garbage then and it's garbage now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "not the first time", and joke already done.

      While trying to find the story I referred to above, I found an article reporting an earlier epic fail by JoC:

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/03/07/meteorite_bacteria/

      Amusingly enough, a commentard on that story already made the joke about it being the Vl'hurg invasion fleet:

      http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/containing/1003998

      I think I was wrong about the Uni. Sheff having tangled with JoC before though; I think I was in fact remembering this story about "research" published by JoC and Cardiff Uni:

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/03/11/comet_algae_hystrichospheres/

      Ho hum. JoC seems to discover "proof" of panspermia every few months. Remarkable how nobody else ever does.

      1. David Pollard

        Re: "not the first time", and joke already done.

        "... wrong about the Uni. Sheff" ?

        Milton Wainwright at Sheffield has been associated with Chandra Wickramasinghe, who had been at Cardiff and is now at Buckingham, for quite some while. For example, they were both involved with the somewhat extravagant 'spores from space' story which purported to explain the red rain in Kerala in 2001 and which was kept going for years with suggestions that alien DNA might be identified in samples that had been collected.

        Their latest concoction seems to be getting national press coverage. I've been wondering that this might be down to Benny Peiser, who is a Visiting Fellow at Buckingham and heads Nigel Lawson's Global Warming Policy Foundation. This is well connected at the Daily Telegraph.

        How microbes from space might fit with a spoiler campaign against the latest IPCC report I don't know, but sadly something along these lines is not beyond the bounds of possibility.

        1. Don Jefe

          Re: "not the first time", and joke already done.

          Indeed, no good can come from crossing the Wainwright-Wickramasinghe streams.

        2. oolor

          Re: "not the first time", and joke already done.

          >How microbes from space might fit with a spoiler campaign against the latest IPCC report I don't know, but sadly something along these lines is not beyond the bounds of possibility.

          Microbes From Space Prove Global Warming is Real

          /headline

  12. Annihilator
    Alien

    ISS et al

    One would imagine that the ISS must be covered in the blighters, sort of like leaving a car parked under a tree during nesting season. Given there's been no missions that I'm aware of that have deployed windscreen wipers to the cupola, I'm sensing that's not the case.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: ISS et al

      Astronauts always shower down while still in the airlock, you know.

  13. 4d3fect

    Of course DNA was right--about that. He was just wrong about working out in a Santa Barbara gym.

  14. Andrew James

    Don't planes fly around at heights in excess of 30k feet? So saying "it must have floated up or fallen down" to arrive at 27k feet seems to present a pretty obvious place these things could have come from at that altitude.

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    3. o5ky

      27 kilometres = 88 582.6772 feet

      1. asdf Silver badge

        hmm

        The SR71 could fly that high (and the X15 much higher) and with super low drag what they found might have been drifting up there for years (edit: probably not as that would have been virtually at the limit how high the SR71 could fly). Don't those scram jet prototypes fly up that high as well? Of course it probably was either from the balloon itself indirectly or a rocket.

  15. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >"the Universe exists only in order to hate you personally"

      No, that's perfectly normal paranoia. Everyone in the universe gets that.

  16. Frank Fisher

    I think you mean Fred Hoyle was right!

    For all the mocking panspermia is a very compelling theory. Much more plausible for life to originate in space where big stuff happens a lot, than here on the dull earth.

    1. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

      Active planet

      Planet Earth is not a dull ball of rock (with a metal core) but is seething with action (plate tectonics) on a timescale of megayears. (Just like me.) Life has come a long way since water seeping beneath the ocean began playing chemical tricks with hot rocks.

      The development from bacterial life to eucaryotic life took a long time though - of the order of a billion years from 2e9BP to 1e9BP.

      I might believe bacteria from space but not diatoms.

      1. Vociferous

        Re: Active planet

        Especially as diatoms is an evolutionarily speaking young group, which evolved in the Jurassic. It's not in any way a primitive or primordial group.

    2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      "Much more plausible for life to originate in space..."

      Shortest possible rebuttal: How much evidence of Alien life forms wafting down from ...S-P-A-C-E... was found amongst the 843lbs of rocks and dust that were brought back by Neil and Buzz and the others?

      1. Don Jefe
        Joke

        Re: "Much more plausible for life to originate in space..."

        You'll never know about the life found on Moon rocks. Have you ever touched an actual Moon rock or soil sample that wasn't encased in Lucite? How about looked at a sample under a microscope? Thought not!

        You'll never get to either! Otherwise you'd discover the 'Moon rocks' are just the remnants of a failed type of experimental concrete meant to cure under water. NASA and the DoD were trying to make concrete cure underwater, which is impossible but potentially highly lucrative, and they had to hide the evidence so our enemies wouldn't steal the idea. They hid it under our enemies very noses!

    3. The Indomitable Gall

      Panspermia is an interesting theory, and there are very few genuine thinkers who dismiss it out of hand, but the claims here are ridiculous. If panspermia occurred, it would most likely have been a freak event, a one-in-a-million-billion-trillion.

      However, these guys claim that they sent a balloon up at random and caught a dead plant that must have fallen in from space in the previous week, which (given the volume of the upper atmosphere vs the volume of their sample) would imply that the Earth's undergoing a constant hailstorm of alien micro-flora, which would have to have been detected by now -- scientists would have noticed if falling sealife was contaminating the DNA samples they were collecting in mountainous regions.

      Speaking of sealife, surely water-bourne life is incredibly poorly adapted to crossing the vast emptiness of space...?!?

  17. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Boffin

    Diatoms, its full of diatoms!

    That picture is definitely a diatom. We did a project on automatic identification of diatoms together with a number of diatomists, and I have seen loads of these creatures. The specimen is too damaged fr our software to handle, but I bet the people we worked with could tell you which species it is.

    1. Don Jefe
      Alien

      Re: Diatoms, its full of diatoms!

      Diatom is in the URL to the linked PDF as well. It seems strange to me that someone would be claiming alien life but classify it within a well known class of terrestrial life...

      Maybe it says a lot (less) for the credibility of the journal it's published in, as well as the scientist. Maybe it says a lot about me too, but I would have named it something grand or at least self serving if I were claiming to have proven alien life exists within our atmosphere.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Diatoms, its full of diatoms!

        NANOTECHNOLOGHY from SPACE!

        SCIENTISTS say "IT ACTUALLY LOOKS LIKE A DIATOM"

        Page 3: PROOF of QUASI-BIOLOGICAL ENGINEERING by NON-HUMAN ENTITIES.

        Page 4: Worried housewives ask: "Does SPACE OBAMA know about this?"

        Page 5: Carrier Strike Group DISPATCHED to LOW EARTH ORBIT: KERRY announces PROTECTION of FREEDOM against all SPACE DIATOMS. "This will not stand. Oh! The inhumanity!!".

        PUTIN OUTED AS SPACE MONSTER SUPPORTER ON PAGE 12!! Jon Stewart: "Only elderly fat housewives root for DIATOMS and PUTIN. FAIL!"

        1. frank ly Silver badge

          Re: Diatoms, its full of diatoms!

          It's a fragment of a babelfish. (I'm good at jumping to conclusions.)

    2. Jon B

      Re: Diatoms, its full of diatoms!

      Looks suspiciously like a microscopic intergalactic space transport to me. It's even got windows.

  18. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Dear Sir,

    Aiee!

    Yours etc., etc.

  19. Gulraj Rijhwani
    Alert

    Oops

    It's the "anthropic principle" not "anthropomorphic" (which would be the projection of human intent onto the universe - a pretty tall order).

    1. Dan Paul

      Re: Oops

      But..isn't that what the AGW religion is all about!?

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Oops

        No.

    2. cortland

      Re: Oops

      Tending towards Anthropophagic.

      CF To Serve Man

  20. John Deeb

    Impossible to live with?

    All criticism aside, they might have very well found alien life even when using terribly shaky science. Simply because if the hypothesis is right, the chance on finding aliens raining down would be quite high. It might not differ that much at first glance from life on Earth, following that same hypothesis. How to do this experiment better with limited budget and interest, I wonder?

    The Telegraph has Prof Wainwright adding: "If the ratio of certain isotopes gives one number then our organisms are from Earth, if it gives another, then they are from space."

    And the tongue in cheek:

    "The tension will obviously be almost impossible to live with."

    C'mon people, they go out on a limb and try to be the first to capture alien life. It's as scientific as the Nostromo landing on a planetoid and poking through some mysterious eggs, then bringing back the infected inside their ship. But it might still be the harbinger of greater things to come :)

  21. Andrew Torrance

    So let's assume that this hypothesis is correct then space should be swarming with similar miniscule little buggers ? Most would burn up on reentry , so unless the little green man is targetting earth and squirting them at just the right velocity then probably millions (billions?) burn for each one that makes it through the atmosphere. So space should be relatively awash with diatom soup . Perhaps the 'scientists' here are right , perhaps the missing matter in the universe is a gigantic starter , but no one ever thought to set the remotascope to scan using the minestrone setting .

    1. DanceMan

      Waiter!

      There's a fly in my diatom soup.

  22. Anomalous Cowshed

    Deus ex Machina

    Amino acids are boring, we get a headache trying to work out how evolution might have happened that way, and it completely contradicts our literal reading of the bible. This won't do.

    We must find an easier, more straight-forward explanation.

    So instead, we propose the following:

    - Earth was created by God 5 or 6000 years ago, we are descended from Adam and Eve, the sun turns around the earth, the fossils were planted by angels to test our faith.

    For those of you who find that old hat and too conservative and non-scientific, how about this:

    - Earth was seeded by aliens or by bacteria from outer space. We can just about imagine how the bacteria from outer space might have evolved into us and we don't need to worry about how they themselves came into being.

    1. Pirate Dave

      Re: How the bacteria came into being

      Angel farts, obviously...

      1. MrDamage

        Re: How the bacteria came into being

        www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmD9ZWDUsNY

    2. Kyle Roberts

      Re: Deus ex Machina

      "- Earth was created by God 5 or 6000 years ago, we are descended from Adam and Eve, the sun turns around the earth, the fossils were planted by angels to test our faith."

      Or the fossils were formed when huge volumes of sediment was dumped on them during Noah's flood!

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Panspermia...

    Sometimes it's difficult to hear that word without the mental picture that accompanies it.

    Flute, hooves, impish face, ick etc. Just learn to duck and cover though.

  24. WatAWorld

    If stuff could get from other stars to earth, stuff from earth could get to other stars

    One sample would be enough, IF they could culture their sample and make it reproduce, thus (1) proving it was alive and (2) creating enough of it we could analyze it to be certain it was not of terrestrial origin.

    There are a lot of obscure uncatalogued micro-organisms on earth. And I think the likelihood is that micro-organisms within 10,000 km of earth are from earth. Volcanoes, aircraft, lightening

    Something from space should have radically different genetics, or more likely a replacement for DNA.

    There is a lot more than just volcanoes to carry tiny stuff past earth's ability to keep it close.

    From NASA:

    http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/education/svrwx101/lightning/types/

    "Red Sprites can appear directly above an active thunderstorm as a large but weak flash. They usually happen at the same time as powerful positive CG lightning strokes. They can extend up to 60 miles from the cloud top. Sprites are mostly red and usually last no more than a few seconds, and their shapes are described as resembling jellyfish, carrots, or columns. Because sprites are not very bright, they can only be seen at night. They are rarely seen with the human eye, so they are most often imaged with highly sensitive cameras.

    "Blue jets emerge from the top of the thundercloud, but are not directly associated with cloud-to-ground lightning. They extend up in narrow cones fanning out and disappearing at heights of 25-35 miles. Blue jets last a fraction of a second and have been witnessed by pilots.

    "Elves are rapidly expanding disk-shaped regions of glowing that can be up to 300 miles across. They last less than a thousandth of a second, and occur above areas of active cloud to ground lightning. Scientists believe elves result when an energetic electromagnetic pulse extends up into the ionosphere. Elves were discovered in 1992 by a low-light video camera on the Space Shuttle."

  25. willi0000000
    Pint

    slightly stretched imagination?

    "...it's true that life on our planet sprung up suspiciously quickly from randomly-mixed amino acids."

    given the starting mix size (all the water on the planet) and the number of random collisions of suspended/dissolved matter in all that water and a half billion years or so and various energy inputs (solar, lightning, cosmic rays...) and chemistry's seeming bias toward creating things like amino acids from such a mix (phew, out of breath here...) it doesn't seem at all unlikely that life originated here.

    panspermia seems to demand the creation of some sort of a benign environment everywhere in space so these little beasties can get started and thrive or faster than light travel so the progenitors could spread them all over.

    perhaps if there was a nearby beer nebula?

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Creation of "life" is easier than it sounds

      Because it's only got to happen once on the entire planet.

      Think about it - if one molecule exists that automatically makes copies of itself, it will make copies until it runs out of material.

      Allow for the occasional non-fatal error, and we have bootstrapped evolution that only needs time and energy input.

      Panspermia simply expands the possible volume to encompass more worlds, as it says it's only got to have happened once within a possible-to-travel spacetime cone.

      And doesn't necessarily require any more than one arrival on a pristine planet, either.

  26. This post has been deleted by its author

  27. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Fred Hoyle proved right all along.

    Sadly, no.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Illogical

    It couldn't have come up 27km.

    Q: So where did it come from?

    It came from another planet, rising not just 27km but actually escaping. Drifting through the Galaxy, to reach here.

    Q: Why would you believe this?

    Because life could not possibly have arisen by itself on Earth in only 5 billion years.

    Q: So what's 'impossible' in 5 billion years becomes perfectly likely in 13.7 billion? You know "three" isn't exactly a huge ratio on a log scale.

    Etc.

    1. Caesarius
      Pint

      Re: Illogical

      Thank you: I was looking for some consideration of the implication that life must have started on merely another planet.

  29. Vociferous

    FWIW...

    ...the photo appears to show a fragment of the shell of a diatom (single-celled alga).

    Compare to this: http://soundwaves.usgs.gov/2011/03/6AneumastusDESLG.jpg

    It is also well known that Earth bacteria have been found at high altitudes:

    http://www.climatecentral.org/news/high-flying-bacteria-play-role-in-forming-clouds-and-precipitation-15525

    And that very small particles which get lofted very high can take many years to fall back down again.

    To that one may add that Journal of Cosmology is a junk science magazine with questionable (at best) peer review (check the Wikipedia article on the journal for details).

    My conclusion is that this, sadly, is junk science.

  30. RobHib
    Alien

    Oh Freddy Hoyle yuh Maverick, where are yuh now?

    Oh Freddy Hoyle yuh Maverick, perhaps you'll ultimately be vindicated.

    Would it be funny if panspermia or some variant of it turns out to be true? That would plunk egg all over the face of that disingenuous, grossly-establishment Nobel Committee over the B2FH affair wouldn't it?

    Of course, the naysayers will all respond that yuh student and mate Chandra Wickramasinghe is a contributing author to that paper.

    Still methinks 1957 and B2FH's a way yet to run.

    Let's hope so.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Oh Freddy Hoyle yuh Maverick, where are yuh now?

      I have the very telescope he started his astronomical career on here. Family history of him suggests he was a bit ...

      I dont think B2FH is in any way regarded as a crank paper. Maybe they should have got awards for it - but many other great discoveries out there miss out too.

      While B2FH is good work the panspermia theory just does not make statistical sense.

      If the earth is too small for amino acids to form then they must have either formed on a larger body - this would require larger impacts to eject them into space ( with much less chance of surviving the impact) or they formed in the gasses of outer space. Now amino acids do seem to form in outer space but if you look at the statistical probability of that happening and compare that to the reaction rate of the closely packed chemicals on earth then earth seems like a much more probable site of origin - astronomically so.

      1. RobHib
        Boffin

        @Tom 7 -- Re: Oh Freddy Hoyle yuh Maverick, where are yuh now?

        I dont think B2FH is in any way regarded as a crank paper. Maybe they should have got awards for it

        That's the point of my sarcasm, Fred didn't get proper acknowledgement for great work. There's nothing crank about B2FH, actually it was a seminal paper, it's already gone down in history as one of the great papers/discoveries in physics in the 20th C. After all, Synthesis of the Elements in Stars; stellar nucleosynthesis theory (how the elements are made), is pretty important stuff!

        Fred Hoyle didn't get (or share) the Nobel Prize for his B2FH work although he ought to have (that's agreed by many). Of the four authors (Margaret Burbidge; Geoffrey Burbidge; William Fowler & Fred Hoyle), only Fowler got the gong! Why? Well, Fred was too outspoken for a physicist, he upset the applecart too many times, and he also went out on a limb over the Big Bang (a term he coined) and other things too, and perhaps panspermia is one of them. Mind you, Hoyle wasn't alone over Steady-State vs the Big Bang, he was with some very illustrious company--some decades previously Einstein was also of a similar opinion re Steady-State, (remember Penzias and Wilson only discovered the CMB in 1964 and that took a while to sink in). In hindsight, it's damn easy to criticise.

        Hoyle was a Maverick because he didn't always play by the rules, but not to give him due recognition when he deserves it is another matter. Too often the Nobel Committee hasn't given credit where it's due. Shame the Nobel isn't reorganized along more democratic lines, but then the Establishment would never ever allow something as radical that, now would they?

        With the public's respect for science at miniscule levels compared with what is was when the B2FH paper cape out in '57, perhaps it's time that moribund committee pulled its collective finger out.

        BTW, I attended a lecture on panspermia given by Fred Hoyle in the early 1980s and Chandra Wickramasinghe was with him at the time. Because of the controversy, even if it were ever found to be true, it'd have a hard time getting any traction because Wickramasinghe is [still] one of the authors behind this report.

  31. thx1138v2

    IID

    Well, it may not prove life arrived from outer space but a strong case could be made that the Infinite Improbability Drive does, indeed, exist and that Ford has recently visited - dirty towel and all.

  32. HobartTas

    Interesting, but I suspect that isotopic analysis would probably show whether it has terrestrial origins or not.

  33. sean.fr

    Look at nearest source

    If the source is another planet, You have to explain how the bugs got up the gravity well. Whatevery you suggest can be applied to the earth too.

    If you start from a principle than that space is full of this stuff, it would be surprising we did not find this stuff before. We have recovered stuff from space before. Eg space suits used for EVA.

    If it ' s natural environment was deep space, whats the food/energy? Within the solar system, the sun would do. But if it local, it is more likely to be earth seed space, not space seeding the earth.

    We have found life before in strange places, like deep caves, and mines, deep sea alkaline hydrothermal vents.

  34. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Pamspermia

    is that where you do a solo mile high club?

  35. Astarte

    Job for LOHAN

    The real test about life on Earth should be about The Mice. I suggest the next high-altitude LOHAN flight should include Playmonaut holding a small piece of cheese (hard cheddar should do nicely) to see if it becomes contaminated or even shows evidence of having been nibbled by a mouse. We've all heard of pigs in space - why not mice?

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    is there any reason...

    why the microbes couldnt be some kind of living thing that occupies that area of the atmosphere and has done for years? Do they not even consider that as an option, not that far a stretch of the imagination if they keep on finding living organisms in previously inhospitable places. Just another annoyance along the lines of always assuming living organisms must follow the same rules because obviously scientists have already established how everything in the universe works.

  37. chris lively

    Every time I hear a "scientist" talk about occam I want to vomit. Why? Because it means they haven't bothered to consider all the angles and are trying to sound "official" to prove their view.

    Is there still at atmosphere at that level? Yes? Then its likely to contain earth stuff.

    Do this: put a satellite in a high orbit with a catcher. See what shows up. Put rovers on the moon and mars. See what you get. If all of those places contain similar stuff then you have a case for Life from Spaace. That's science. If only one finds something then you have an anomaly that needs to be verified and explained. What we have right now is an anomaly. From a group that wants more money to try again.

    Over the past couple of years the scientific community has been shifting away from life solely forming here and instead is going towards life coming from outside. There are a couple of possibilities for this, the first of which being that no current theory of life originating on earth has been proven to work. The theories sound good but no one can replicate it without causing more problems than they solve.

  38. Wzrd1

    For heavens sake, that is a fragment of a bloody diatom.

    Used to fix them on grids for our junior high school's donated electron microscope (hopelessly obsolete at the time).

    Erm, El Reg, please distinguish between a real boffin and a buffoon.

  39. Bracken Dawson

    Had to...

    I for one welcome our new microbial overlords.

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