Friday, September 3, 2010

Report: Alien life has reached earth (or maybe not)

I bet you're probably thinking I've lost an oar and am now writing science-fiction instead of a technology column but, if reports on the science-news wires today are correct, earth may have experienced a visit by alien life forms at the start of this decade.

The reports suggest that the appearance of hitherto undiscovered microbial life-forms which remain completely inert at temperatures below 121 degrees C may have fallen to earth from space in an event that was reported as "red rain" back in 2001.

It was initially thought that the red rain was simply the result of dust or lichen spores of a terrestrial origin -- however there have been a small group of those who consider that the tiny cell-like objects contained in the rain came from outer space. This suggestion was given further weight when observers reported a bright flash and loud boom shortly before the red rain began to fall.

A couple of years after the event, physicist Godfrey Louis published a paper in which he proposed that the red rain was caused by debris from an exploding comet or meteor as it entered earth's atmosphere.

At that time, Louis published another paper with Santhos Kumar in which he claimed he had managed to get the "cells" contained in the red rain to reproduce at temperatures approaching 300 degrees C. The pair published another paper in 2008 in which they restated these claims.

And now, like clockwork, the pair (plus several other physicists) have published another paper detailing further research and observations which have been made on the mystical red cells.

Oddly enough, despite the huge implications of such a find, nobody outside of Louis and Kumar's team have verified the strange behaviour of these possible alien invaders - which must leave all but the most enthusiastic sci-fi reader somewhat skeptical of the conclusions they have drawn.

However, if it does turn out that the red rain was indeed an alien invasion, one can't help but wonder if climate change will eventually lift temperatures to the level these cells need to "come alive" and colonise the planet. Of course we won't care because by then, mankind will have well and truly vacated the scene.

Perhaps panspermia is for real after all.

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