CCNet DEBATE, 20 November 1998


From Andrew Y. Glikson <

Dear Benny Peiser,

I have followed Chandra Wickramashinghe and Fred Hoyle's
Panspermia ideas for some time with fascination and, I must admit,
a degree of incredulity, for the following reasons:

1.  Given the presence of organic molecules in meteoritic and
interstellar dust, it is well known that the distinction between
organic matter and bacterial life forms is not a quantitative one
but a qualitative quantum jump.  As I am not aware of a discovery
of bacteria in extraterrestrial particles to date, I fail to see
the evidence for the Panspermia assertion.

2.  How is Panspermia reconciled with the physical limits on the
survival of DNA, which I believe breaks down at temperatures lower
than those to which interstellar particles are exposed during, for
example, cometary sun-grazing or atmospheric entry?

3.  In my readings of early terrestrial evolution and the role of
meteoritic impacts I have not yet come across a rationale as to
why Earth, given the presence of water and favorable surface
temperatures, is any less suited as a cradle for bacterial life
than any other planet or interstellar space?

4.  Finally, would proponents of Panspermia care to comment on the
ideological parallels between Panspermia and UFO-type cults -
which seem to share peculiar philosophical tenets, namely (1)
importation of life/culture from outer space; (2) an
underestimation of the potential of Earth itself as a cradle of
life, evolution and culture, and (3) a lack of elementary
scientific evidence - ie. either for interstellar bacteria or for

Yours Sincerely

(Dr) Andrew Glikson 
20 November, 1998

CCCMENU CCC for 1998