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Sir Fred Hoyle Professor N.C Wickramasinghe

R E V I E W B Y F R A N C I S A. A N D R E W


R E V I E W B Y F R A N C I S A. A N D R E W


Diseases from Space was a highly controversial book when it first came out in 1979. Its challenge to the whole concept of where diseases originate still makes it controversial in 2014. The book develops the hypothesis that many of the most common diseases which afflict mankind, such as influenza, the common cold and whooping cough, have their origins in extraterrestrial sources. The two authors argue the case for outer space being the main source for these pathogens- or at least their causative agents.

Diseases From Space

Author Chandra Wickramasinghe,Fred Hoyle Country Language Genre Published Great Britain English Space medicine 1979


978-0060119379 ISBN Sir Fred Hoyle and Professor Nadine Chandra Wickramasinghe spent over 20 years investigating the nature and composition of interstellar dust. Though many theories regarding this dust had been postulated by various astronomers since the middle of the 19th century, all were found to be wanting as and when new data on the gas and dust clouds became available. While Hoyle and Wickramasinghe never set out to be controversial, but rather, to explain the phenomenon they were investigating within the boundaries of conventional theory, their research led them to the astonishing but inevitable conclusion that, as the spectroscopic data of the gas clouds matched those for desiccated bacteria, the core component of interstellar dust was indeed just that - desiccated bacteria. This led the two scientists in the direction of explaining the spread of diseases in ways which challenged the mainstream human-to-human transmission process of diseases, substituting it with an alternative theory which postulated that diseases such as influenza and the common cold are incident from space and fall upon the Earth in what they term "pathogenic patches." Hoyle and Wickramasinghe found themselves compelled to understand the process of evolution in a manner at variance with the standard Darwinian model. They averred that genetic material in the form of incoming pathogens from the cosmos provided the mechanism for driving the evolutionary engine.


Delivery mechanism for space incident pathogens
It is important to mention how Hoyle and Wickramasinghe describe the way pathogens are brought to Earth from out space and what happens to these pathogens when they enter the terrestrial atmosphere.

How pathogens descend to earth from outer space.

In their opening chapter, Hoyle and Wickramasinghe argue that the idea of bacteria and viruses descending upon the Earth from outer space at first may seem strange, but that they intend to demonstrate by reasoned argument in succeeding chapters that the hypothesis is quite plausible. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe aver that the pathogens from space are brought to Earth by comets. As the comet, on its highly elliptical orbit around the solar system passes close to the sun, the heat from the sun causes the comet to shed some of its outer layers. These layers contain dormant bacteria and viruses which are released by the peeling effect as the comet gains close proximity to the sun. A more detailed analysis of this process is dealt with in the two authors' book Lifecloud: The Origin of Life in the Universe. If a bacteria should fall on a body such as the moon it will immediately be gasified as there is no atmosphere to slow down its descent. The Earth's atmosphere serves to slow down the descent of the bacterium or virus particle and so afford it a fair degree of protection. However the descent of the virus through the Earth's atmosphere may itself prove to be a hazard for the incoming pathogen due to heating caused by descent. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe demonstrate that the size of bacteria are small enough to avoid being "cooked" on their descent from the stratosphere to the troposphere. Once at the base of the stratosphere (9 miles over the tropics and 6 miles over the Earth's temperate zones), the pathogens can be carried down to the lower atmosphere by rain and snow in as short a time as days and weeks.

What happens to the pathogens on Earth.

The distribution patterns of the incoming pathogens as they fall on the Earth will be greatly determined by meteorological factors such as wind, storms on the sun, terrestrial thunderstorms and interaction between storms in the lower atmosphere and the air currents moving around the jet streams which circle the Earth. The two authors refer to these distributional patterns as "pathogenic patches" and argue that one's risk of contracting a disease from a space incident pathogen will be determined by the mere chance of whether or not one is within the boundaries of a "patch." When these pathogens hit ground level, they establish a reservoir for themselves in host plants, animals and humans. These reservoirs may last as short as a few weeks (as in the case of the influenza virus in humans) or for thousands of years (as in the case of the virus herpes simplex). Hoyle and Wickramasinghe contend that


movement of people and animals (especially birds) from one pathogenic patch to another causes the illusion of diseases being spread by people. They also controversially argue that medical authorities (such as the World Health Organisation are similarly operating under an illusion in setting up projects to rid the world of various diseases. From an historical perspective, Hoyle and Wickramasinghe have observed that many diseases which exist now did not exist at various times in the past; also they have found descriptions of diseases by Thucydides which defy any kind of comparison with known diseases in the modern period. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe site Thucydides "The Peloponesian Wars."

Human-to-human transmission of the common cold

The authors of Diseases from Space challenge conventional wisdom on how the common cold is transmitted and refute the notion that it is contagious.

Cometary origin of respiratory diseases

Hoyle and Wickramasinghe challenge what is basically seen as a "fact" in the scientific medical community - the human-to-human and animal-to-human transmission process for the spreading of diseases. The two scientists point out that the influenza virus exists in various types and subtypes and that the subtypes which use animals as reservoirs are not of the type that would infect humans. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe argue that these viruses must be renewed from space on a frequent basis, otherwise they would become extinct. It is at this point in their book that the two authors start to present their evidence in the process of building up their case that so-called contagious diseases are in fact incident from space. The two authors contend that if the spread of diseases is not by the human-tohuman transmission process, it necessarily follows the bacteria causing the diseases fall on humans from the atmosphere. They note the difficulties involved in obtaining viral particles from the atmosphere due to their scarcity over a wide area. While most of the incoming micrometeorites will fall on the polar regions, the chances of finding viral particles from random core samples in the vast swathes of ice sheets of Greenland and the Arctic are extremely slim. According to Hoyle and Wickramasinghe, person to person transmission would not contradict a cometary origin for respiratory diseases for the reason that there are no known reservoirs for the influenza and common cold viruses. This fact tends to lend support to their theory of these virus particles having an extraterrestrial origin.

The slowness of human to human transmission

If two people happen to be in the way of a pathogenic patch, then both will develop clinical symptoms of the disease simultaneously. One of the problems with the person to person mode of transmission would be the slow rate of infection involved in such a transmission process. The time lapse involved in the process would be the incubation period of the virus which is generally a day and a half, after which clinical symptoms emerge. It would therefore take about ten days to two weeks to affect fifty persons; such a slow rate is inconsistent with the general rapidity in


the spread of colds and influenza. Furthermore, it would be impossible for any susceptible person to escape the disease if there were any person carrying a load of 10,000 million viral particles per cubic meter - however, most susceptible persons do escape. Yet the persistence in the common cold is shown by the high rates of infection; adults on average contract two to three colds per annum with children contracting anything from between six and twelve per annum.

Sir Christopher Andrewes experiment

In demonstrating the weakness of the human-to-human transmission hypothesis, it would be well worthwhile to focus in closely on the experiments conducted by Sir Christopher Andrewes and published in his book "The Common Cold" Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1965). A great deal of the work done by Sir Christopher Andrewes is made use of in Diseases from Space. In a 1947 experiment, three pairs of volunteers were given hot baths after which they were left to stand in a cool corridor clad only in bathing attire. Three other pairs were given a shot of a cold virus and were subjected to chilling as per the first three pairs. Another three pairs were given the virus alone but without the chilling. The groups with the virus alone produced two colds. The group with the chilling plus inoculation with the dilute virus produced four colds; however, the groups with the chilling and wetting alone did not produce any colds. The conclusion from the experiment is that chilling and wetting do not produce colds. Actual weather conditions may be a different story however as rain tends to form around micro meteoritic particles, many of which may contain viruses.

Meteorological factors
Hoyle and Wickramasinghe point out that colds are more frequent when the grounds is cold and less frequent when it is warm. The temperature differences between the sea and the land are produced by the heating and cooling of the land. The coldest temperature difference between sea and land is in February. This is when a thermodynamic engine carrying heat from the sea to the land comes into operation thus bringing storms landward. These storms produce eddy transfers into the stratosphere. The electrical fields generated by these transfers pull down micro-meteorites which otherwise would take five years to reach down to the troposphere. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe explain that this process would require the particles to be of the size of around 5 millionths of a centimeter - which is about the size of viral particles.

Another experiment
Another of Sir Christopher Andrewes' experiments cited in Diseases from Space involved eight people being exposed for ten hours to others infected with the common cold virus. Between twenty four and thirty six hours later, some of those inoculated with the virus remained symptom free. Eleven other people were exposed to those with fully developed colds. Only one person, who had been exposed to the symptom free group, caught a cold. As in the case of the aforementioned experiment, there appears to be low occurrence of spread by contact. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe discount the suggestion that this


phenomenon could be explained by immunity due to the large numbers of viral types and subtypes of the common cold.

Investigating influenza in Tristan Da Cunha

Hoyle and Wickramasinghe examine the incidences of common cold outbreaks in the island of Tristan Da Cunha. Boats frequently call at the island without there being any epidemics present. However, between 1964 and 1967, four out of eight epidemics appeared to be associated with boats. The authors cite three reason as to why the person to person mode of transmission does not hold up in this particular case. First of all, four of the eight epidemics remain unexplained. Secondly, owing to a volcanic eruption on the island in 1961, the islanders spent 1962/3 in Britain, and so had plenty time to develop an immunity from the cold. Thirdly, boats call at the island frequently enough to maintain the immunity. The most viable explanation given by the authors is that boats moving from one pathogenic patch to another are more vulnerable than the island itself, and that should a pathogenic patch hit the island itself, boats in the vicinity will likely be hit ahead of time.

Experimenting with the cold virus on Eilean Nan Ron.

Another of Sir Christopher Andrewes' experiments cited in Diseases from Space involved groups of volunteers being "marooned" on the Scottish island of Eilean Nan Ron in an unspecified year in the 1960's. The volunteers remained on the island for approximately three months - July to September. The island was completely deserted - the inhabitants having left twelve years previously mainly for economic reasons. On July 8, one man had a cold, on July 9 another one succumbed to a cold, and on July 11, three more men contracted one. No more colds were reported until the termination of the isolation period on September 19. The final part of the experiment involved sending landing parties whose members had been given shots of the cold virus. The original volunteers were then divided into three groups of four and sent to different parts of the island. The members of the landing party stayed in a room for three hours, during which time they spent coughing and sneezing oral and nasal discharge all over various objects in the room. At the end of the three hour period, Party A (of the original volunteers ) entered the room. The members of the landing party then went into a room which separated them from Party B with a blanket which reached a few inches from the ceiling and a few inches from the floor. This blanket was of a weave which permitted droplet nuclei from coughing and sneezing discharge to pass through but prevented the passage of coarser particles. Party C were completely exposed to the members of the landing party, fraternizing, eating and drinking with them in close proximity. The astonishing result of this experiment was that no-one in either of the three groups developed a cold.

Investigating the cold virus on Spitzbergen

Hoyle and Wickramasinghe examined the incidence of colds in the island of Spitzbergen for the year 1931. Reports of incidences of the common cold were co-incident with the arrival of the first boats


during the spring thaw. It was therefore extrapolated that the cold virus had been brought to the island by infected seamen on the boats. The authors of Diseases from Space offer an alternative explanation for this co-incidence: they argue that the melting of the ice in spring causes disturbances in the atmosphere which pull down micrometeorites to ground level. As the melting of the ice allows for open water for the entry of ships, the false impression is given that it is the ships that are responsible for the bringing of the disease into the island. The three seamen who had come down with colds were blamed for spreading the disease throughout the island. Yet their names were never released, nor was there any record of the traces of their movement. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe observe that in all cases where colds and influenza are brought to isolated communities, there are no details released of the contacts responsible for allegedly bringing the diseases. They are generally, nameless, faceless and shadowy individuals who, without trace, consistently remain in obscurity. The two authors interestingly equate this strange phenomenon with the medieval figure of death - the Grim Reaper.

Human-to-human transmission of influenza?

As in the case of the common cold, Hoyle and Wickramasinghe demonstrate that the theory of person to person transmission of the influenza virus is seriously wanting.

The influenza pandemic of 1918/19

Influenza was first mentioned by Hippocrates in the year 412BC. Although there is no known human reservoir for the influenza virus, it has been consistently affecting the human species since the earliest of times. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe provide some notable facts concerning the patterns of spread of the various influenza epidemics which occurred in the 19th and 20th centuries. The most lethal of all influenza epidemics of recent times was undoubtedly the 1917 - 1919 outbreak of the so-called Spanish Flu. Between 1917 and 1919, Australia was mainly free of the disease, the first death from it being reported there as late on as 1919. The Australian authorities credited this to their strict quarantine policy; however, quarantining has never proven to be effective. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe claim that the emphasis on the quarantining argument was mainly due to the bureaucracy protecting itself from criticism. While Australia remained free of the disease, there had been many reports of attacks on ships which subsequently called in at Australian ports but without causing any spread of the disease. When the pandemic broke out in 1917, Boston and Bombay were affected on the same day. Yet it took three weeks before the disease spread to New York. After Joliet, Illinois in Illinois was hit, the disease was not detected in Chicago until one full month later - a distance of only thirty eight miles. An interesting case study is that of a comparison between Pittsburgh and Toledo which are neighboring cities. The respective populations did similar jobs, were of similar age groups, and, in normal times, had identical death rates. Yet,in 1918, the death rates from influenza in Pittsburgh exceeded that of Toledo by an enormous 400%.


Sir Charles Creighton's analyses of influenza outbreaks in mid-19th century England.

The authors of Diseases from Space note the comments made by the distinguished British epidemiologist, Sir Charles Creighton in 1894 concerning the earlier epidemics of 1833, 1837 and 1847. Regarding the rapidity in which the influenza virus spread throughout Great Britain, Creighton described it as a "miasma covering the land." Such was the entrenched position of the human-to-human hypothesis in the mode of transmission of the disease that Creighton's rejection of it resulted in much criticism of him from his fellow medical practitioners. The search for the causative agent of influenza has proven to be elusive. In 1920 it was thought that Pfeiffer's Influenza Bacillus was the main candidate. This was eventually proven to be wrong.

Antigenic Drift and Antigenic Shift.

Hoyle and Wickramasinghe describe the three basic types of influenza virus. Type A influenza virus which causes epidemics and pandemics. Then there is Type B influenza virus which basically causes localised epidemics. Type C influenza virus is very uncommon and is not dealt with in Diseases from Space. They go on to explain that influenza viruses are classified according to what are termed H and N antigens. The change in the virus over the years is a process known as Antigenic Drift. When there is a dramatic change in the virus, the process is known as Antigenic Shift. Antigenic Drift may me attributed to a virus' response to the development of human Immunity (medical) to it.However,Antigenic Drift may be more difficult to explain. F.M. Burnett and P.E. Lind demonstrated in the laboratory that genetic crosses between humans and animals is possible. When this happens the new strain of virus is "shocked into virulence" by some kind of natural event. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe point out the basic problem with the recombinant virus theory. Should such a virus spread from a particular central focus point, it would not attain geographical diversity but would rather be localised in its reach.Hoyle and Wickramasinghe aver that because the new virus types are global in their scope, their source is from outer space.

Testing the Drift and Shift Theories

The two scientists examine closely the pattern of spread of various flu epidemics. The so-called Asian flu of 1957 took four months to spread to Europe; Hoyle and Wickramasinghe query as to whether it would have taken all this time to spread along the busy air routes from Asia to Europe if the mode of transmission were from human to human. The two scientists note that when the so-called Hong Kong fluhit California, it was the small town of Needles, California that was first affected rather than the large conurbations such as San Francisco, Los Angeles or San Diego. Forty five weeks later the disease was reported in the state of Montana but had not traveled along the much busier and more popular air routes to Chicago and New York. By week forty six, the virus had spread to New York, but had not yet reached Chicago, Dallas or Miami. What the authors interestingly note is that by week forty seven, the November/December holiday traffic had still left Miami unaffected by the virus. They also note with equal interest that while slowly moving boats have supposedly carried the virus around,faster moving


aircraft have failed to function as conveyers of the disease ( p. 68 ). Once again, Hoyle and Wickramasinghe attribute this pattern of spread, which fails to accord with the human-to-human transmission concept, to theory that viruses are incident from space.

Further evidence against the recombinant theory

The two authors also point out further evidence which detracts from the recombinant virus theory. Citing J. Mulder's and M. Masurel's 1958 article in the lancet, Hoyle and Wickramasinghe argue from the evidence contained therein that the recombination theory is deficient in explaining the outbreaks of influenza epidemics. In their article entitled "Pre-epidemic antibodies against the 1957 strain of Asian influenza virus in the Serum (blood) of older persons living in the Netherlands," Mulder and Masurel found high concentrations of anti-bodiesto the Asian virus ]H2N2 in older people of the 75 - 85 year age range. These blood samples were obtained prior to the outbreak of the epidemic. Younger people did not have such high concentrations of these anti-bodies. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe contend that these anti-bodies were obtained by these people during the influenza outbreak of 1880 77 years earlier. Prior to the H3N2 pandemic blood samples obtained by S.J Machin, C.W. Porter & J.S. Oxford showed anti-bodies to this strain in the age range 69 79 years but with a greater degree of immunity showing in the 79 - 80+ age range. The implication of this is that the 1889/90 outbreak was indeed H3N3. The antibodies to H2N2 and H3N2 in the blood samples does not bode well for the recombinant theory and antigenic drift for the reason that these two subtypes are repeating themselves 75 80 years later. According to the recombinant theory, these two subtypes should have come together to produce a third subtype; obviously the evidence does not indicate that they did so. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe link the H2N2 and H3N2 with Halley's Comet which has a periodicity of 76.2 years.

Recurrence of viral strains.

The dominant strains of influenza during the decade 1946 - 1957 was H1N1. After 1957, this subtype disappeared but re-appeared in 1977. The main point here is that types and sub-types of influenza virus can disappear and then re-appear at a future date, and that while this fact, according to Hoyle and Wickramasinghe, fails to fit the recombinant theory, has no difficulty within the context of a theory whose explanation involves influenza types and sub-types as being phenomena incident from outer space.

Testing human-to-human transmission of influenza.

By investigating the pattern of influenza infection in places of communal living, Hoyle and Wickramasinghe successfully debunk the theory of the human to human transmission process of influenza.


Communal living and influenza transmission

One of the most effective ways of testing the theory of human-to-human transmission of influenza would be to nvestigate the incidences of influenza attacks on places of communal living - such as boarding schools and army barracks. Hoyle and Wickramasinge looked at the attendance records of schools in the Cardiff, Wales area during the 1978 influenza epidemic of 1978. They state: "We soon saw from the school attendance records that pupils across the age range of a particular school were much more similar to each other in their response to the influenza epidemic than they were to pupils in other schools. Since we could not believe that pupils in different schools were inherently different from each other, this meant that some other factor had to be controlling the situation, which we attributed immediately to the patchy incidence of the influenza virus on to the Cardiff area" ( p. 87 ). Headmasters and teachers informed the two authors that there was really no difference in the spacing of the desks between one school and another. Likewise, there was really no difference in the play habits of children between one school and another. Yet, in spite of these similarities, there were considerable differences in the attack rates. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe stressed the importance of the geographical areas of the schools involved in their survey.

St. Donat's School investigation

The study the two scientists conducted on St. Donat's School near St. Donat's Castle, is of particular interest. What they found did not correspond with the human to human transmission process. In fact their investigations did not at all augur well for that process. In 1975, the school suffered an attack of upper respiratory disease. There were forty eight recorded cases of influenza. The school dormitories were built with low ceilings and each contained four pupils. If the process of transmission was by the human to human process, then the expected pattern of viral attack would show as non-random clustering throughout the dormitories. However, if the the viruses were airborne, then the pattern of infection should be that of random distribution. On analysing the pattern of infections throughout the dormitories through the medical records provided by the sister, Miss Stanley, Hoyle and Wickramasinghe found that one dormitory had three victims, five dormitories had two victims and thirty five had one victim. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe were now convinced that influenza was not a contagious disease and that its process of transmission was not human to human.

Howell's School investigation

Investigation of the pattern of influenza attacks at Howell's School, showed, as in the case of St. Donat's, that influenza was not transmissible. Of the thirty two victims who succumbed to the disease, the first ten reported to the sick bay at spaced intervals; however the others were contemporaneous. As they reported to the sick bay within a short time of each other, it would be impossible that they would have infected each other. The erratic patterning in the spread of the disease convinced Hoyle and Wickramasinghe that while Sir Charles Creighton's explanation of influenza epidemics as being caused by a cloud covering the land was wrong, neither could they be accounted for by the analogy of "....a bucket handed along a line of people, as it would tend to do through person to person transmission ( p.


101 ). Instead the authors described the nature of the spread of the disease as "jumping about" ( p. 102 ). This "jumping about" could be explained by factors related to Meteorology.

How pathogens are distributed

The authors turned their attention to the means by which pathogens incident from space could descend through the Earth's atmosphere and land in such a localized way as to affect schools. While the patchiness of the disease could not be explained by large particles of around five Microns which would fall through the atmosphere over a wide area in a few weeks and be washed away in rivers and sewers. However particles of less than five millionths of a centimeter can be brought to ground level through the electrical effects of storms, and eddies of air extending between the troposphere and the stratosphere can bring down particles of around fifty millionths of a centimeter. These particles serve as nuclei for rain droplets thus creating the patchiness related to rain formation in the form of Cumulus clouds and [19] frontal disturbances. While particles enclosed within raindrops would merely be washed way through [20] natural drainage systems and the drainage systems of towns and cities (gutters and sewers ). However, the mechanism by which the virus in Raindrops is brought into contact with human hosts is by means of Evaporation. When the skies suddenly clear on stormy days, the pathogens are released by the evaporation of raindrops that have not reached ground level. The released pathogens are brought down by local Turbulence whereby they may find human, animal and plant hosts.

Debunking the animal to human transmission process.

Hoyle and Wickramasinghe mention the act that as there is no human reservoir for the influenza virus it was once thought that the virus jumped from animals to man - swine being the main reservoir. Now, the main carrier of the disease is thought to be birds. The authors aver that the jumping of the virus from bird to man must be a "rare event" ( p. 122 ) as such a process of transmission has never been observed. The spread of the disease would have to be by "single transfer cases" ( p. 122 )on a person to person basis; but, as the authors point out, this method of multiplication of the disease does not appear to be supported by the evidence. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe examine the spread of the 1918 influenza pandemic in the state of Alaska. Their documentary evidence is Governor Thomas R. Riggs' testimony to the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations, Monday January 16th 1919. Governor Thomas R. Riggs began his testimony with the conventional wisdom that it had been boats which had brought the virus to Alaska, yet, as Hoyle and Wickramasinghe point out, Riggs' evidence points away from this and towards unconventional explanatory sources. Most of Alaska is ice-bound and travel by dog team is at the pace of a mere twenty to thirty miles per day. The disease had hit Kodiak Island but there had been no boats at this island. The theory that it had been brought by Migratory birds fails as by the time the disease had hit in November/December, the Alaskan migratory birds and long before moved south and their droppings had been covered in snow. When it is considered that Alaska is twice the size of the state of Texas and, that at the time of the pandemic in 1919, the population was both nomadic and thinly spread, and that the rate of travel was a mere twenty to thirty miles per day, the human to human transmission theory can be safely ruled out.


A Historical Perspective.
By examining the historical incidences of various diseases, the authors attempt to add credibility to their theory that many diseases both emanate from outer space and fail the contagion hypothesis. In considering so-called Infectious diseases from an historical perspective, Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe make clear that for a virus to maintain an effective human reservoir, there must be a high enough birth rate for the virus to spread itself as surviving humans who have a life-long immunity to a viral attack will no longer be able to function as reservoirs. For person to person transmission to be effective, there must be high concentrations of population. As early hunter-gatherer societies were concentrated in small groups and widely scattered ( as in the case of the Alaskan Eskimo population referred to above )diseases infecting these early human societies must therefore have originated from an outside source. In examining the disease of Poliomyelitis the authors mention the case of this disease having been discovered in an Egyptian pre-dynastic ( Pre-dynastic Egypt) mummy. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe investigate other epidemic outbreaks and notice the sporadic nature of their occurrence. Trachoma, Cholera, Measles, Mumps, Chickenpox, Bubonic plague, Smallpox, all display a mysterious coming and going. The authors are convinced that the explanation of this phenomenon lies in recognising a spacebased origin of these diseases.

Space incident pathogens and Evolution.

Hoyle and Wickramasinhge link space based viruses and bacteria to the evolutionary process. They explain what Paleontology paleontologists term the Cambrian explosion, in which the Fossil record indicates a sudden extinction of Species and the sudden emergence of new ones, by the process of "viral storms" of incoming pathogens wiping out most species but, at the same time, allowing the survivors to incorporate the new genetic material into their Genomes and progress upwards to the next evolutionary stage. In this, they reject Darwinian evolution which explains the emergence of species in slow incremental stages over long periods of geological time. As a corollary, they claim that there are no Missing Links or Transitional fossils between the mainline species.

Spectroscopic evidence for pathogens in space.

In Appendix 1 of the book, the authors present spectroscopic evidence spectroscope for the existence of biological material in interstellar clouds of gas and dust. The spectroscopic lines in the Trapezium Cluster, closely match laboratory obtained spectroscopic lines for Cellulose. The spectroscopic evidence supporting the evidence for Astrobiology is more fully taken up and developed in Hoyle's and Wickramasinghe's other books related to the subject. These are The Relation of Biology to Astronomy,


Our Place in the Cosmos, The Intelligent Universe, Life on Mars, Astronomical Origins of Life. For more information on the cometary mechanism for the transportation of pathogens to planets, see Living Comets.

The development of the theory of bacteria in interstellar dust clouds.

For a more detailed analysis of how Hoyle and Wickramasinghe reached the conclusion that desiccated bacteria ( bacteria denuded of water )was the principle composition of interstellar clouds see The Theory of Cosmic Grains, From Grains to Bacteria, Evolution from Space, A Journey with Fred Hoyle.

Publication history
First published in 1979 by J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd. Published in 1980 by Harper & Row. Published in 1981 by Sphere Books Ltd.