This “news” article lead in with some rather positive statements, and had me wondering for a bit how life could exist on a comet.
Evidence of alien life is “unequivocal” on the comet carrying the Philae probe through space, two leading astronomers have said.
The experts say the most likely explanation for certain features of the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet, such as its organic-rich black crust, is the presence of living organisms beneath an icy surface.
Rosetta, the European spacecraft orbiting the comet, is also said to have picked up strange “clusters” of organic material that resemble viral particles.
Hmmm. I could imagine bacteria living deep in a organic-chemical-rich rock in space, but it would have to be metabolizing at an extraordinarily low rate — how would a probe that wasn’t designed to detect life even see it? Are there cues other than that the surface is dark? Because that’s kind of routine, and doesn’t require life.
And then that bit about
viral particles…how would they know? Does Philae carry an electron microscope on board?
Despite the emphatic wording, this article is extremely suspect. But it’s Sky News, a real UK news source! Just like Fox News in the US! They would at least check with real scientists, wouldn’t they?
Nope. All is revealed.
Prof Wickramasinghe said: “What we’re saying is that data coming from the comet seems to unequivocally, in my opinion, point to micro-organisms being involved in the formation of the icy structures, the preponderance of aromatic hydrocarbons, and the very dark surface.”
Wow. UK news sites actually quote Wickramasinghe as a “scientist”, rather than as a professional kook?
I experienced a strange moment of enthusiasm for the space program, because if Philae had actually found evidence of life on a comet, that would be reason enough to lobby for lots of money for NASA. But then I felt real disappointment when I discovered the source of this claim — Chandra Wickramasinghe metaphorically kicked my feels in the balls.
Now I have even more reason to detest that old crank.
Matthew Francis in Forbes has an article asking, Is there life on Comet 67P? The first paragraph is clear, and I quote it in full:
I like it. All you other papers: you know, if you actually had science journalists on staff, you wouldn’t embarrass yourselves like this.