...science will be made more reliable and more valuable for society today not by being protected from societal influences but instead by being brought, carefully and appropriately, into a direct, open, and intimate relationship with those influences. — Daniel Sarewitz, "Saving Science", The New Atlantis, 2016.

Replies to Cosmic Ancestry, 2017

Times article
Article and letter | from Chandra Wickramasinghe | 17 Dec 2017
Dear Brig, This article [linked below] in today's Sunday Telegraph is worth reading and linking to the website. Also the attached letter published in the Times of London (right).
My friendship with Arthur C. Clarke: the scientific prophet who made the modern world possible, born 100 years ago, The Telegraph, 17 Dec 2017.
Chandra Wickramasinghe: his local page with a 1981 statement and links.

Prior work of Hoyle & Wickramasinghe | from Ted Steele | 23 Nov 2017

Dear Dr Berera: I have seen your In Press paper "Space dust collisions as a planetary escape mechanism", and I am writing to bring to your attention some of the extensive prior work and literature on this topic which you have inadequately cited. It is very important in Science that the integrity of the published scientific record be maintained - the consequences for scientists not respecting the integrity of the scientific record can be severe.

While your paper is very speculative compared to the more substantial mechanisms  discussed by Hoyle and Wickramasinghe and their many colleagues - including impact ejection (eg splashback from an impact such as caused the expulsion of the dinosaurs) - but key references citing some of this prior work. e.g. key books even, should have been included in your paper. [see references]

Thank you | Edward J Steele PhD | CYO Foundation | Perth, AUSTRALIA
...the mechanism proposed in this paper...., posted 21 Nov 2017.

Special Issue "Carbonaceous Chondrites, Comets, Cosmic Dust and Life"
from Richard Hoover | 19 Oct 2017

Life journal logo Dear Brig, The Dear Colleague letter for the Life Special Issue has just gone online.  ...the Paradigm seems to now be shifting and the Letter presents the background for the shift.  I think we should have many important papers for this Issue which could mark a major turning point in the Panspermia debate.

Academician Galimov now agrees that Microfossils exist in meteorites.  He has told me that he also has concluded that life did not originate on Earth. I think with his help we may be able to obtain data on CRE, silicon isotopes and other parameters that will finally resolve the problem with the approval of the Polonnaruwa meteorite. He will Chair the Meteoritical Society Annual Meeting in Moscow next July and I plan to deliver an Invited paper at this meeting and respond to all questions. The major difficulty with the Polonnaruwa stones is that they are unlike any of the currently known and accepted groups of meteorites. Diatoms in Orgueil destroys the idea that they can not be meteorites because they contain diatoms. We have just last week discovered other diatoms in Orgueil and carbonized filaments of exotic and identifiable genera and species of Cyanobacteria that Academician Galimov will see in situation in the meteorites today. No one can with credibility can question the authenticity the Orgueil meteorite or the biogenicity of nitrogen deficient fossil diatoms encrusted in magnesium sulfate embedded in the rock matrix. The Russian version of our paper on Orgueil diatoms is now in final peer review at Doklady and I think it will be approved and published soon. 

Brig, I return to America on Oct. 25 and will call you after I get back home. This has been an extremely busy but wonderful and productive six weeks. The Tescan Vega3 is a superb microscope and completely dedicated to Astrobiology Research and I now have four extremely knowledgeable micropaleontologists working with me on the microscope and leading authorities on Cyanobacteria and Actinomycetes at the Microbiology Institute RAS and Moscow State University.

Yours, Richard
...Special Issue of Life, posted 29 Oct 2017.

Re: Improbable Destinies | from Jonathan Losos | 23 Aug 2017

Dear Professor Klyce, Many thanks for your email and your nice review. Much appreciated. The question you ask at the end is an important one and one that I reluctantly left out of the book. My initial plan had been to spend at least a chapter, if not more, discussing convergent evolution (or lack thereof) at the molecular/genetic level, which in turn would have led to discussion about how new adaptive programs arise. However, as the book progressed, I realized both that I simply did not have space (my editor admonished me not to make the book big enough to be a "door stop") and, moreover, that the technical level of this research was such that it would be difficult to present at the level I was writing. So, reluctantly, I did not venture into this direction. My own assessment is that the macroevolutionary aspects of this question have been more thoroughly studied at the theoretical than at the empirical level. Actual work at the genetic level is much more at the microevolutionary level. Having said that, I think that work like Lenski’s, where relatively major changes have occurred, but where the system is amenable to highly detailed genetic dissection, is relevant.
Any way, many thanks! Sincerely, Jonathan

23 Aug 2017: Our review of Losos's book asks the question to which he responds here.
In Real or Artificial Life... mentions Lenski et al. with updates.

Cypress swamp Halos on Mars suggest conditions for life lasted longer than thought | from Ronnie McGhee | 06 Jun 2017

Brig, Given all the all data sets released by NASA so far it no longer seems that far fetched to visualize conditions near Gale crater, does it? Crinoids and tree trunks anyone? Cheers. Ronnie
03 Jun 2017: ...an ancient, habitable lake environment that was sustained for tens of thousands to tens of millions of years....
28 Oct 2015: A fossil on Mars resembles one on Earth.
01 Nov 2015 McGhee's email re: possible petrified wood on Mars.

Brig you have probably seen this. "This also means that bacteria might survive a spacecraft landing – or even crashing – on other planets. That would lend weight to the panspermia theory, in which comets or meteorites could potentially deliver life to otherwise sterile planets."
Microbes might thrive after crash-landing on board a meteorite by Rebecca Boyle, New Scientist, 17 May 2017.
Bacteria: The Space Colonists is a related local webpage.

Hello Brig, concerning the hydrogen plumes on Enceladus, when are we going to start looking for life itself instead merely of environments that support life, as in the case of the recent outgassing on Enceladus.  When will the models be tied into biological activity instead of all these ad hoc and convoluted physical explanations that require us just now to be so lucky to see tidal heating tied to possible (but unseen) past orbital resonances with Dione.  When will the people designing flyby experiments start heeding Chandra Wickramasinghe's admonition that the time is now for a huge paradigm shift in the search for life.  There are giraffes in Africa--we don't find them by looking for leaves missing from the tops of acacia trees.

George Nickas | Corpus Christi, TX
The abundance of H2... is the related news item, 13 Apr 2017.
...a 62-mile-high plume of water on Europa describes a flyby opportunity, 19 Apr 2017.

Dear Brig, thank for bringing Facts and Speculations In Cosmology to the attention of your readers.  I have re-read it since it was published like some people re-read their Bible.  The QSSC of Hoyle, Burbidge, Narlikar, and Arp is the best theory we have to comprehensively explain the universe's present dynamics and composition including its past and future.  QSSC correctly postulates and explains the origin and abundances of the elements, the expansion, the origin and place of quasars, the cosmic acceleration (which you point out), and any number of other observations.  It requires none of the untestable ad hoc initial explosive conditions of an origin-based theory like the Big Bang, whose parameters of a gigantic explosion are set arbitrarily without rational justification to fit the observations-- no test or experiment is possible to prove or support these parameters.  As Fred Hoyle often said, the Big Bang is based on pure faith bordering on religious dogma--it is not a scientifically testable theory.

Hoyle denied that either QSSC theory or theories of life in the universe were deliberately undertaken to support each other.  He said in an interview he did not work that way--he said hat he took on his work in either of the areas as separate problems.  But it appears not requiring a theory for the origin of the physical universe happily squares with not needing an origin of life theory to explain how life on Earth came to be--they are mutually compatible but not premeditated to be so.  This adds to their strengths.

Sincerely, George Nickas | Corpus Christi, TX
Facts and Speculations... is the related news item, posted 25 Mar 2017.

10:46 AM: George, many thanks. (I have re-re-edited the subject posting, for style only.) When I interviewed Sir Fred in 1996, I asked about the congruence between QSSC and panspermia because I thought others could falsely accuse him. Also, at that time, he thought life could originate if there were 10^17 years available. He said that to me then. Perhaps I shoulda included it in the writeup, but it wasn't on the recording, because the tape had run out. Nicola Hoyle, our sound engineer, politely did not interrupt us to alert us. Fred Hoyle Interviewed..., 5 Jul 1996.

PS: you have probably also read A Different Approach to Cosmology: from a Static Universe through the Big Bang towards Reality, by Fred Hoyle, Geoffrey Burbidge and Jayant V. Narlikar, Cambridge University Press, April 2000. [Reviewed in What'sNEW, 20 May 2000.]

Dear Dr. Klyce, My name is Julio Padron, and I taking part in the initiative that Ted is leading, where I've seen you are also on board. It was precisely in the exchange of emails that we are having that I had the chance to know about your website. It is very nice and impressive to see all efforts you are presenting in there. In this regard I just wanted to let you note this recently published paper. Best regards, Julio

Are humans a "clothed mass of microbes" engaged in a sort of panspermia? by Julio L. Padròn Velàzquez, doi:10.5779/hypothesis.v14i1.479, Hypothesis, online 12 Dec 2016.

Dr. Julio Padron, PhD | Studio Eutropi, Clinical Pathology and Nutrition | Rome, Italy.

...I think the job of science is to explain what we observe. We do not observe the origin of life. That life originates is an assumption, currently based on the big bang. But if the universe is eternal (or if the big bang theory has a leak) life never has to originate. It is a big step to get this concept. But without it, we still face the complaint that [panspermia simply moves] the origin-of-life problem over the horizon. I would like to turn the tables. If darwinists are so sure that life can originate, let them show how. Until then, it's their problem, and life is not required to originate! ...Best regards, Brig
The RNA World is our webpage about origin-of-life theories.

Brig, I have noticed that Vera Rubin is being described by some, including Mr. Hagerty in the WSJ (panspermia website) as having "found evidence" or having "proved" the existence of dark matter. What she really discovered was the flat rotation curves of galaxies suggesting, but in no way giving 'proof' of such matter. To be sure, the flat rotation curves cannot be explained by ordinary Newtonian mechanics based on visible matter, but this does not necessarily force us to conclude that there is unseen matter in place. Rubin would be in agreement with this. Other plausible ways of understanding the flat rotation curves have been proposed--notably the Milgrom theory of modifying Newtonian physics in environments where gravitational accelerations are very small as they are in galaxy rotation. In fact, astronomers are already placing time limits on further unsuccessful searches for the 'dark matter' before dropping the whole idea and rethinking the problem.

Yours truly, George Nickas, Corpus Christi, TX
Vera Rubin (1928-2016) is the related news item, posted 31 Dec 2016.

from Jack Ritter, 04 Aug 2017: Vera Rubin has been granted credit for having discovered "dark matter." This is inaccurate, whether or not one uses that term to describe the phenomenon. To quote the first paragraph of Wikipedia's entry for Fritz Zwicky: "In 1933, Zwicky was the first to use the virial theorem to infer the existence of unseen dark matter, describing it as 'dunkle Materie'"

He was the first astronomer to look carefully at galactic mass distribution. He had much cruder equipment than Rubin, so he wasn't able to document the phenomenon as convincingly. To make up for it, he had the Virial Theorem, an equation any ordinary physics student will grasp. Using this, he concluded there must be a lot more mass around galaxies than can be seen optically. That's why he coined the term dunkle Materie!

Neil deGrasse Tyson confirms all this in his Nova series. He says that Zwicky was arrogant, cantankerous, and ahead of his time. All of these contributed to his undeserved obscurity. Rubin is being backed by people who believe it's time for a woman astronomer to be recognized by the Nobel committee. A great idea, but she is simply not the towering thinker that was Zwicky, who also explained neutron stars, as well as the practical use of Einstein's idea of gravitational lensing.

Zwicky discovered dark matter. Rubin discovered Zwicky.
Jack Ritter | 

4 PM PDT: Jack, Vera Rubin certainly made the case for unseen matter. I think she deserves plenty of credit for advancing science, even if, as George Nickas suggests, dark matter is not the correct-and-complete solution. Still, good to hear from you so many years after we were in college together. Best regards, Brig

Vera Rubin (1928-2016) is the related news item, posted 31 Dec 2016.
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