Were Kerala 'Blood Rains' Caused By A Form Of Alien Life?
This story is, admittedly, on the more esoteric side of the
aerospace world... but when you're talking about the very real
possibility of alien life, we'll make an exception.
A scientist in southern India believes samples of reddish
droplets that fell from the skies over his country in 2001 (above)
may very well contain alien microbes from space. Why? Because,
according to Popular Science, the particles don't seem to fall into
the textbook, earthbound definition of "life," and are unlike
anything else found on this planet.
In his paper published in April, Godfrey Louis says the
particles -- thick-walled, red-tinted cell-like structures about 10
microns in size, that lack DNA -- still reproduce actively up to
600 degrees Fahrenheit (the upper limit so far for life on this
planet, in water, is about 250 degrees).
Louis believes the particles could be an form of
extraterrestrial bacteria, from a comet or meteorite that broke
apart in the upper atmosphere somewhere around the time the "blood
rains" fell on Kerala, India -- a phenomenon an Indian government
investigation postulated could have been caused by algae.
Other theories for the reddish rain include dust from the
Arabian peninsula... or, a meteor that struck a high-flying flock
of bats. (Eww!)
Louis (below, right) dismisses all of those theories -- as algae
contains DNA, and dust and red blood cells don't reproduce.
To confirm his findings,
Louis sent some of his samples to astronomer Chandra Wickramasinghe
at the Cardiff University in Wales. In a paper published 25 years
ago, Wickramasinghe speculated that life on Earth was seeded by
such bateria-riddled space rocks.
"We've already got some stunning pictures -- transmission
electron micrographs -- of these cells sliced in the middle,"
Wickramasinghe said. "We see them budding, with little daughter
cells inside the big cells. If it's true that life was introduced
by comets four billion years ago," one would expect that
microorganisms are still injected into our environment from time to
time. This could be one of those events."
Not surprisingly, others in the scientific community are
skeptical that Louis has, indeed, found the first evidence of
"Life as we know it must contain DNA, or it's not life," said
University of Sheffield microbiologist Milton Wainwright. "But even
if this organism proves to be an anomaly, the absence of DNA
wouldn't necessarily mean it's extraterrestrial."
Louis himself admits he may be wrong... but adds that "if [my]
ideas are wrong then I wish to know a better explanation for the
strange nature of the red rain phenomenon and also for the strange
nature of the red cells."
We'll keep you posted.