Interview with Chandra Wickramasinghe
:Is panspermia a scientifically falsifiable idea?
Yes. We predict that if you find life on another planet or comet and it's identical in genetic make-up and biochemistry to that on Earth, it has a common origin. If it's not the same, panspermia is proved wrong, because the finding shows that life can develop independently. If experiments on Earth show that life can be generated relatively easily in the laboratory from organic molecules, then panspermia becomes unnecessary.You have suggested that flu epidemics have an extra-terrestrial origin and that the SARS virus is an extra-terrestrial virus. How seriously did you mean it?
Well, once you say that life started from outside and is continually being brought in, then the whole evolution of life on Earth is against this background of incoming genetic material. Some of the material would be pathogenic to plants and animals, so yes epidemics from space must remain at least an academic possibility.This month, Richard Hoover, an astrobiologist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, published a paper in the Journal of Cosmology claiming to have found biological structures in a meteorite. You wrote a supportive commentary on the claim, but it hasn't gained widespread acceptance. Why do you think that is?
If it immediately gains widespread acceptance, the whole idea of Earth-centred life collapses in an instant. People are clinging tenaciously to the idea that life is centred on Earth. They will continue to do so until they are absolutely forced to abandon their position.