Panspermia Revisited

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As a young adult, I really do remember reading of the initial experiment carried out by Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe on some boarding schools in England.

Thanks to the wonders of indexing and archiving on the world wide internet, I can now find a copy of their 1990 paper -written  about 12 years later – which details the results of other similar experiments and outlines their hypothesis.

I am not a microbial scientist, but both of my parents were, and I understand that this model of non-contagious spread of pathogens such as influenza is directly linked to their (Hoyle and Wickramasinghe’s) theory of Panspermia, which remains largely on the fringes of accepted science to this day.

The basic premise of the non-contagion model for pathogens is this: viruses carrying the influenza bug, and many others (all others, if we are to accept this hypothesis fully) do not arise primarily in earthbound hosts and replicate themselves through human-to-human (or animal-to-animal) transmission (ie contagion), but first arrive on earth from the depths of interstellar space, filtering down through our stratosphere and falling on specific locations via climatological means.

I revisit this theory every so often, especially when I catch ‘flu while those in my household do not – such as now.

You’d think that my human partner and house-canines would catch the damned virus from me – but no, mostly they don’t. And similarly, when Warren gets an infection, I rarely come down with it as well.

I’m not saying – and I don’t believe the two venerable gentlemen (OK, one venerable gentleman and the shade of another) are saying this either – that there is no contribution from person-to-person contagion in ‘flu and other viruses. It’s just that the initial infectious agents rain down on us like some godly curse, geographically specific and isolated.

Thus, a blogger in Washington State could very well have incubated the same virus I did, half a world away, at about the same time.

This doesn’t mean either that I don’t take elementary precautions – disinfecting laundry and surfaces in the house, pumping liters of fluid and citrus into the house-humans and yoghurt into the poor dogs – as person-to-person transmission could still occur.

But, the longer I actually witness this spread of infection on this planet from a non-scientific and firsthand position, the more I become convinced that Hoyle and Wickramasinghe are truly onto something.

And Panspermia? Let me just keep a wide open, passive mind on that one. I know where Spirit originates, after all.

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