Dr Max Wallace and Prof. Chandra Wickramasinghe are the Kevin Warrick's (aka Captain Cyborg) of astroboffinery?
The Rosetta probe's Earth-bound shepherds have sternly stated that suggestions of alien life within comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko - around which the probe is in orbit - are "pure speculation". Let us put aside the conflict humanity will eventually face if and when we do encounter alien life for a later date, and report …
Why not? It's a fun sport.
This is the guy who makes Julian Arsewhinge look like a self-publicity amateur by running around announcing The Singularity Is Coming! The Singularity Is Coming! because he's stuck an RFID chip under his skin and it's readable leaving many pet owners wondering whether or not this means Rover and Kitty are now actually Dr Who villans.
I know he brings in good money and PR coverage to the department and there's some actual research in there somewhere but christ he's an annoying, attention-seeking nobber who is the public science equivalent of the Cillit Bang bloke.
Of course he's already read this comment with the Raspberry Pi he's sewn into his arse cheeks and will doubtless be sending his army of RFID chipped dogs and cats to murder me as I type.
Well they would, wouldn't they?
I think it's safe to assume that all alien slime is evil, hell-bent on world domination / extermination, and capable of taking over the minds of the first people to encounter it.
"capable of taking over the minds of the first people to encounter "
Already done -- that's why there was that fast retraction.
Scientists alway suffer first -- but there ought to be a plucky kid/woman/dog that will save us.
(if the bacteria get to the back of my cooker there will be one hell of a fight against the current occupants)
> but there ought to be a plucky kid/woman/dog that will save us.
I was going to add a cat to the list. Then I remember the that the cat wouldn't care as long as the Evil Slime From Space fed them and provided nice warm places to sleep..
I believe the vested interest here is real scientific research based on observational experimentation. My guess is he won't be satisfied until every comet in the solar system is visited and checked for life because of course any one of them could be harbouring alien lifeforms. Saying that, if they all come back negative he'll probably just claim it's a cover up anyway. Personally, while it's possible, I don't hold much hope of life being found on a comet. Europa on the other hand is a very strong contender. But first we need to find that black slab that they buried on the moon...
Which *vested* interests?
Probably anyone who: a) questions his science. b) those who won't give him unlimited grant money c) those who won't give him his 15 minutes of fame on Oprah!.
He does seem to be using the same tactics as those selling snake oil in the medical world. One would think that this is wrong approach. He could be right but with his tactics he'll fall into the dustbin of history as one of those shady types selling the oil of snakes.
Some great 'one-liners' above.
But on the issue of speculation.
Science is full of it.
Parallel universes..... that might or might not be bridgeable, being just one of a whole host.
The press love it, as it allows them to have fun with headlines, while minimising the viewpoint that a statement is scientific speculation.
The big one at the moment is the speculation over 'what are some white blobs' seen on pictures.
(there was even a public poll launched in one of the daily's.)
However.... if you speculate over 'alien slime'.... I guess you are just asking for it.
Prof. Wickramasinghe and his colleague (can't be bothered to look the name up) are to be admired for such devotion to that idea of the great Hoyle. I found parts of their argument to be, if not convincing, intriguing.
The bits about 'more hospitable than the Arctic or Antarctic' were over-stated (what happens to that at or anywhere near aphelion, although it is easy to imagine survival as spores or virus-like things), but the other things they were saying were interesting.
Noone here knows if they do or do not have any valid points. Same for the ESA. It seems to me that some of the points they make are valid. Sure, not proof, worth a thought.
Anybody else suffer through Ben Gregford's 'Heart of the Comet'?
An awful novel, I have never re-read it, but haven't thrown it out. It is a great one for a very critical essay, more on the social and ethnic propaganda in it than the physics, mainly well worked out. Strongly favourable review in the New York Times. I want to write that critical essay one day.
A mission with a crew goes to ride a comet, the comet is infested with inimical life, the plot is brain-dead, and it is full of propaganda re. the human riders. If you have read it and think of the central protagonist in particular, you will understand.
A much better one on a related theme is a very short story by Ken McLeod (sp?), called 'The Oort Crowd', it was originally published in Nature, they had a stage of publishing very short stories. The dry wit is beautiful, recommended to any fiction-reading regtard, short and sharp.
Thanks, I had not heard of that before, but the comparison is not convincing to me, not a correct analogy, and Russell seems to have been making a different point.
If microbial life is existing in other places in the solar system, it is exactly like the teapot for now, except the teapot is impossible, but the other is unknown. Concede that it is unlikely, but we do not know.
Prof. Wickra. seemed to make a few valid points and says he had devised experiments for checking for the presence of life, which were getting rejections .
I do recommend McLeod's 'The Oort Crowd' if you have not read it, it was published in Nature, the very dry humour.
1. Obtain a sufficient quantity of snakes.
2. Kill snakes. Kill them! KILL THEM ALL! MUAHAHAHAAA!
3. Bury inside crust of planet-sized pressure cooker.
4. Simmer for approximately 65 million years.
5. Extract snake oil and serve with fresh, or tinned, war.
6. Sell weapons to all sides.
Wickramasinge has form as long as any kook. Way back in the '80s he and Fred Hoyle noted a weak correlation between flu outbreaks and earth passing through some dust cloud causing micrometeorites. Except of course it only accounted for the Northern Hemisphere, can you say Hemispherecentrism professor? And if that wasn't enough shortly afterwards virologists demonstrated that most seasonal flu is the result of mixing of bird and mammalian flus in pigs. There used to be millions and millions of pigs living in people's backyards with chickens all over Asia. Bird flu has done a lot to change that, people in Asia are neither stupid or have death wishes.
But undeterred, even by Fred Hoyle's death the professor has continued to see life everywhere he looks and to ignore the sequence evidence here on earth, EVERYTHING is RELATED to EVERYTHING ELSE. It's relatives all the way down, including the turtles. Even the archaea are related to the bacteria though the split is very ancient.
And of course the chance that a virus so well evolved to bind to human nasopharynx cells, avoid intracellular antiviral measures etc. etc. is just silly. We are surrounded by viruses all the time, plant viruses, bacteriophages (our guts are full of them), worm viruses, insect viruses, fish viruses, amphibian viruses, reptile viruses, feathered dinosaur viruses and mammalian viruses and only a very small fraction have a scooby chance of even infecting us, let alone causing disease. All are exquisitely evolved and adapted. And we are RELATED to all of them.
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