UK scientists convinced they’ve found extraterrestrial life

Scientists from the University of Sheffield believe they have found life arriving to Earth from space after sending a balloon to the stratosphere.

The team, led by Professor (Hon. Cardiff and Buckingham Universities) Milton Wainwright, from the University’s Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology found small organisms that could have come from space after sending a specially designed balloon to 27km into the stratosphere during the recent Perseid meteor shower.

Professor Wainwright said: “Most people will assume that these biological particles must have just drifted up to the stratosphere from Earth, but it is generally accepted that a particle of the size found cannot be lifted from Earth to heights of, for example, 27km. The only known exception is by a violent volcanic eruption, none of which occurred within three years of the sampling trip.

“In the absence of a mechanism by which large particles like these can be transported to the stratosphere we can only conclude that the biological entities originated from space. Our conclusion then is that life is continually arriving to Earth from space, life is not restricted to this planet and it almost certainly did not originate here.”

Professor Wainwright said the results could be revolutionary: “If life does continue to arrive from space then we have to completely change our view of biology and evolution,” he added. “New textbooks will have to be written!”

The balloon, designed by Chris Rose and Alex Baker from the University of Sheffield’s Leonardo Centre for Tribology, was launched near Chester and carried microscope studs which were only exposed to the atmosphere when the balloon reached heights of between 22 and 27km. The balloon landed safely and intact near Wakefield. The scientists then discovered that they had captured a diatom fragment and some unusual biological entities from the stratosphere, all of which are too large to have come from Earth.

UK scientists convinced they've found extraterrestrial lifeProfessor Wainwright said stringent precautions had been taken against the possibility of contamination during sampling and processing, and said the group was confident that the biological organisms could only have come from the stratosphere.

The group’s findings have been published in the Journal of Cosmology and updated versions will appear in the same journal, a new version of which will be published in the near future. Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe of the Buckingham, University Centre for Astrobiology (of which Professor Wainwright is an Honorary Fellow) also gave a presentation of the group’s findings at a meeting of astronomers and astrobiologists in San Diego last month.

Professor Wainwright’s team is hoping to extend and confirm their results by carrying out the test again in October to coincide with the upcoming Haley’s Comet-associated meteorite shower when there will be large amounts of cosmic dust. It is hoped that more new, or unusual, organisms will be found.

Professor Wainwright added: “Of course it will be argued that there must be an, as yet, unknown mechanism for transferring large particles from Earth to the high stratosphere, but we stand by our conclusions. The absolutely crucial experiment will come when we do what is called ‘isotope fractionation’. We will take some of the samples which we have isolated from the stratosphere and introduce them into a complex machine – a button will be pressed. If the ratio of certain isotopes gives one number then our organisms are from Earth, if it gives another, then they are from space. The tension will obviously be almost impossible to live with!”

The material in this press release comes from the originating research organization. Content may be edited for style and length. Have a question? Let us know.


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8 thoughts on “UK scientists convinced they’ve found extraterrestrial life”

  1. Great news.
    Now we know what all the UFOs were doing here…
    They DO hate us; they only wanted to study particles of dust in the stratosphere.
    Nah, seriously,
    some people are writing back here, regarding religious aspects of creation not being settled.

    Genesis One (the book, not the space-capsule) describes six major phases which “evolution” and science mentioned in the same order. Odds of that happening AT RANDOM are 1 in 1*2*3*4*5*6, which is one in 720. In other words, the fact that science tried to defy “god” a bit, and then ended up backing up the story, is kind of freaky isn’t it?
    The stumbling-block for most people is “day 4” … it’s short, look it up, you’ll learn something … i don’t know what it is that you’ll learn, but, if you know that the planet was enveloped by a single cloud somewhere around “day 3” when the plants, and pangaea were “created” then you can easily understand that the shorthand version of events that Genesis One amounts to being describes in “day 4” the sun, moon, and stars becoming VISIBLE at the same time.

    The mystery in this, (please check for yourself as we are all involved, really)
    is: It shows that, with odds of 720-to-one against it all being chance, random, cosmic accident, or energy+soup, somehow we retained the story of the sequence of major events until Moses wrote it down (that’s who wrote genesis, from the collective ancestral memory of the Hebrews, on the way out of Egypt)
    somehow, we were “informed” of some of our origins by something bigger.
    I think it’s possible we were informed, and I see evidence that it’s also possible maybe Hebrews remembered the “days” of “creation”, from since before all humans were fish, lizards or rodentile.

    If we were “created”, it was by something that took a “rest”, according to the story, or maybe it’s worse than that, like “dead” or “just sleeping”.
    It’s not that there’s no god – it’s that we’re trying to get him to do stuff for us on his billion-year-long sunday arvo nap.

  2. @Henry Selvey. If the life was “created” then that act of creation must have been by something alive (as opposed to soup+energy). It doesn’t answer the question of the origin of life to suggest it was created by something, it just displaces it slightly.

    • True, but life could be created by something not alive in the traditional sense. Look, I’m not advocating this, I only mention it because it cannot be disproven. The first part of my comment was the important comment from me.

  3. Why does life coming from space (even if true), mean that “it almost certainly did not originate here.”

    It is quite possible that comets cause biological material to arrive here, quite independently of life originating here independently.

  4. “The absolutely crucial experiment will come when we do what is called ‘isotope fractionation’. We will take some of the samples which we have isolated from the stratosphere and introduce them into a complex machine – a button will be pressed. If the ratio of certain isotopes gives one number then our organisms are from Earth, if it gives another, then they are from space. The tension will obviously be almost impossible to live with!””

    This must be satire right?

  5. I appreciate the magnitude of such a discovery, but it does not get around the origin of life problem at all. No matter where life originated, it had to come from a chemical “soup” with an energy supply, and, needless to say, graded ability to replicate no matter where that occurred. I hesitate to add that it also could have been created – by what or how is moot.

  6. This is but one hypothesis and obviously additional research is needed to form a theory, so it may be some time before there is enough confirming peer review and duplication to produce a theory that life originated from space. I do not doubt the findings, but like any skeptical scientist, I am willing to wait before being too gleeful. However, that said, I wish these scientists well and would love to receive their paper on it.

    I have long wondered at the possibility of life originating in space basically from the lack of positive results from the continuing research surrounding the beginning of life in primordial soup and electricity.

    I was quite interested in one study from a group of scientists located in England. That was about 12 years ago ans I have not seen more on it so I conclude that financing ran out. It seemed well done and reasonable but there never was a followup.


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