Excerpt 1 Hoyle

Hoyle and the evolution from space

"Very well," Jessica relented again. "When it comes to your interest, I have here another theory with aliens.   However, it may not be set up just as you expect it. In addition, we want to move on again on a more scientific base, in contrary to the representatives of the two previous hypotheses.

Do you remember Fred Hoyle whom we already met in a previously discussed chapter?   Fred Hoyle was a renowned astronomer   and mathematician. At the same time he was also a maverick who dared to challenge the existing paradigms. He published hypotheses that are or were contrary to conventional teachings. Parts of his hypotheses were integrated into the official doctrine later as the formation of heavy elements inside stars. Other parts have been falsified, as the steady state theory.   However, there are a number of Fred Hoyle's hypotheses which were not falsified until now but didn’t become a part of the existing official doctrines either.   One of the most important of these I would like to introduce to you.

Fred Hoyle and his colleague Chandra Wickramasinghe studied the interstellar dust. They measured the absorption    of starlight. On the basis of the absorbed wavelength and intensity of the absorption they drew conclusions on the nature and the material of the interstellar dust. In the area of 2200Å they discovered a maximum of absorption and began to investigate what material was responsible for this. The material that they had originally had in mind as the most suitable candidate, however, was exceeded many times during their research by a different material.  To the great astonishment of all this material were bacteria. Fred Hole hypothesized that a significant part of the invisible world of the interstellar dust consists of dry frozen bacteria. In their research, the two astronomers were able to   find a lot of evidence that supported this hypothesis.

Based on this hypothesis, Hoyle and Wickramasinghe presented proposals for a new theory. They started to point out particular properties that bacteria have.   One of these is that bacteria have a tremendous reproductive capacity. Hoyle as a mathematician calculated that if the bacteria would be able to use all available material in the world for their reproduction, it would take only one week until the whole Earth would be transformed into bacteria.  One week later they would have transformed the entire Milky Way to bacteria and another week later the entire visible universe. Therefore bacteria tolerate huge losses. They can also replace these losses with a minimum number of survivors in almost no time.

 Now you might wonder where bacteria could form in the universe. Since water is a prerequisite for life in the shape that we know it, Hoyle and Wickramsinghe were looking for water in the universe. Most of the water   in our solar system, however, is not found on Earth, as one might assume at first thought. It is found beyond the orbits of Uranus and Neptune in the shape of comets. According to latest research, which proved proposals by Hoyle and Wickramasinghe, comets can be compared with dirty snowballs with several kilometers in diameter.

 In our solar system, the sun and the planets condensed from a cloud of dust which came from a cloud of interstellar material.  From the same cloud also the comets originated and ended up in the so called Oort cloud. There are billions of them. All conditions were met, that bacteria could grow in this area. A single bacterium, as a part of material in the interstellar cloud itself or originated in another part of the universe and driven by supernova explosions   or  spread to the Oort cloud by the pressure of light would be sufficient to convert all the material in the comets suitable for reproduction in a very short time into bacteria. Fred Hoyle therefore assumes that bacteria hibernate inside the comets.   Besides bacteria he also anticipates additional microorganisms such as viruses, which could be formed in interstellar space and survive inside the comets. 

 Thus Hoyle now has a starting point for further hypotheses. He hypothesizes that life did not originate on Earth but arrived here from outer space. He has found their vehicle of transport: the comets.

 Again and again it happens that comets inside the Oort cloud leave their circular path due to collisions or interference by the gravitational forces of other celestial bodies and   take an elongated elliptical course for the center of the solar system, the sun. As they get closer to the sun, the warmer it gets, and the dirty snowball begins to melt. The further a comet approaches the sun, the more material liquefies and evaporates from his dirty snowball. Parts of this material are scattered throughout space and can be seen as a comet's tail also from Earth. After circling the sun the comet takes back course to the edge of the solar system, now with the tail forward. Some comets can be distracted by the planets and end up on shorter orbits with shorter turnaround times. Others even leave the solar system. A few years ago we could observe the crash of the comet Levy-Schoemaker into the planet Jupiter or the destruction of the comet Ison that came to close to the sun.   Bacteria and viruses that hibernate on the comets will be ejected and partly distributed along the comet’s orbit in space. The Earth and other celestial bodies in our solar system are exposed to a thin stream   of comet matter, but also viruses and bacteria, especially if their path is crossing the former orbit of a comet. "

"Fascinating," said Vulko. "But as far as I know, comets are traveling 30 000 kilometers per second. As Svan drove me here this morning by car with a speed of just 55 miles per hour, there was not much left of the insects, which collided with the windshield. So the problem that remains is a safe landing. Moreover, it would be very dangerous in space for living beings without a protective suit, because of the intense radiation, especially in the vicinity of the sun. "

"All right, Vulko!" Jessica said. "Therefore it is not possible to capture the bacteria in space or detect them with satellites. One can at most scrape their remains off the windshield   and analyze these. The Giotto probe which flew through the tail of comet Halley on its last visit, partially succeeded.   Likewise, bacteria have no chance to land on the moon, because the moon has no brake device like our Earth. Unlike larger objects such as meteorites, which usually burn up on entering our atmosphere because of the enormous friction, very small particles such as dust or viruses can be completely decelerated by our atmosphere. They may then safely descend to the surface. "

"Then we should be able to find them on the surface of the Earth," said Vulko. 

"Here we have just one big problem," laughed Jessica. "If Hoyle is right, they have been around for millions of years here and are practically a part of our environment. So how can we identify them? Just their appearance is hardly suitable for this task.

 Therefore, we must   search for properties or patterns in them, which are suggesting their unusual origin. Here we come to your second objection, that it is very dangerous in space without a protective suit. We have found bacteria on the ground and exposed them to extreme radiation, as it exists only in space. A bacterium Micrococcus type radiophilus received an extreme X-ray radiation, which exceeds the maximum radiation on earth several million times. The DNA of this bacterium was destroyed in more than 10 000 locations. Nevertheless the bacteria succeeded to repair this damage all by itself in a short time and became fully functional again. So you have to ask the question why evolution should develop such a completely useless property for life on Earth. On the other hand it is an advantage for survival in space.

It has also been discovered that there are two classes of bacteria. One of these likes it hot and the other likes it cold, which means that they only can reproduce at certain temperatures. A cold-loving bacterium multiplies only in sub-zero. The interesting thing here is that cold-loving bacteria can be found in soil of tropical forests and heat-loving bacteria are found in the Arctic, where they never have a chance to multiply. Fred Hoyle also evaluates this observation as an indication for an origin from space.

Another unusual contribution to the chain of evidence for Hoyle's hypothesis is described by him and his colleague Wickramasinghe in their book Deceases from Space. Herein, they examine the propagation velocity and the propagation pattern of diseases which are transmitted by bacteria or viruses. They harked back to statistical studies of foreign material that originally had been researched for a completely different purpose. They were able to show that flu or a common cold could spread so quickly over an area that you had to rule out direct infection from person to person or through the spread by wind as the sole cause. In addition, it was recognized that flu usually started simultaneously in several places and it had a limited spread radius.   They found records of Sardinian shepherds who lived completely isolated and relatively far away from other people. The files reported that they had gotten sick at the same time of flu or cold. The conclusion to evaluate this observation as another evidence of a global bacteria or viruses from space was thinkable. 

They also explored the history of viral diseases such as the plague. Here you could find that the virus repeatedly disappeared completely after an epidemic outbreak and then, several generations later, suddenly struck again with full strength. The origin of the plague virus by one or more comets that orbit on long-period orbits around the sun would be a possible explanation. It would also explain the old superstition that comets bring plague and destruction, which would then prove not to be superstition.

Meanwhile researchers have also found traces of bacteria coming from space in different ways specifically in the interior of meteorites that have been found. Tests could prove that they have a chance of survival despite an extreme impact speed.

But the idea that the earth might have received the seed of life by bacteria from the universe is much older than Hoyle's theories. Already in the 18th century the Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius published his hypothesis that bacteria exist in space and there can propagate indefinitely. The low mass of a single bacterium allows that it is driven by the radiation pressure exerted by the sun or stars, so that bacteria can spread freely throughout space. Together with the properties of an enormous capacity for self-repair of radiation damage and the ability   to almost hibernate in cold and drought an unlimited time tells you that this hypothesis is not so antiquated that people should just ignore it. "

"But the aliens in this chapter are not particularly large," laughed Vulko. "Have you found any major candidates?" "Definitely not your size," Jessica replied. "But there are actually larger aspirants. If you think 2200Å was too small we have something of the size of about one millimeter.

 The alien creature is called tardigrade or water bear. It's as I said about a millimeter long, has six legs and is composed of four segments. Somehow it’s puppy like appearance has contributed to its name. It can be found in 750 varieties almost everywhere on Earth, but is hardly noticed because of its small size.   However, there is something that it can be suspected of being an alien. That is a couple of strange properties which hardly are required on earth. Thus it survives temperatures which are just a little above the absolute point zero at minus 272 degrees Celsius but also at temperatures well over 100 degrees Celsius. It survives in a vacuum or at a pressure of 6000 atmospheres. It also survives 250 times the dose of gamma rays, which would be fatal to a human. In situations where it’s too cold or it encounters a lack of water it may scale down its metabolism to practically zero, so that it can virtually hybernate an unlimited time. Swedish scientists have exposed unprotected animals in space in 2008, and found out that they survived this procedure completely intact. "

"Well" rejoiced Vulko. "I am satisfied with one millimeter."

"Hoyle and Wickramasinghe were not satisfied yet with their hypotheses about bacteria from outer space," Jessica took up the subject again. "Next, they hypothesized that life on earth was not created in a primordial soup, but came here from outer space, once an atmosphere had formed that allowed a soft landing of bacteria. They pointed out that fossil remains of bacteria were already found in the most ancient of all sedimentary deposits that are 3.8 billion years old, which were discoverd in West Greenland. Thus the primadorial soup did not have the time of billions of years that it has been granted for the development of life. Hoyle stated that the conditions for the origin of life within a thousand billion comets were much better in our solar system because of the time available, but also because of the available materials. By pointing out that there are billions of solar systems, he believes that the origin of life on Earth is extremely unlikely. The possibility that bacteria can spread the germs of life throughout the cosmos was for him an additional indication that the hypothesis that life originated on Earth, even if there is a chance for it, is not very convincing.

But Hoyle took another big step forward with his hypotheses. For him it was obvious, that the constant sprinkling of the Earth with 100 tons of comet dust per day, which includes bacteria, viruses and viroids, is the driving force of evolution and not random mutation paired with natural selection. He described this scenario as follows:

 Main carriers of evolution are viruses and viroids, which reach the earth by comets. Viruses are not considered living beings since they cannot reproduce themselves. In order to reproduce, they have to penetrate a host cell in which they insert their own DNA sequences. Then they cause the host to reproduce their own DNA and new viruses. Even if the virus infestation and the production of viruses stop, the new   DNA sequences are still present in the DNA of the host. Normally, the information which is stored in the new DAN is not used for modification of the host organism. However, it can continue to be inherited within the species of the host.

 Hoyle now expects that some trigger can activate the new DNA sequences or parts of them, which results in the modification of the host organism. As a trigger he can imagine viroids. Viroids are a precursor to viruses. However, they only consist of a single circular RNA molecule, and they   have no shell of proteins and lipids unlike viruses or cells. However, these RNA molecules of viroids can, according to Hoyle, activate new DNA sequences that have been previously introduced by viruses in the organism. He describes plant diseases as evidence of such a procedure, which cause mutations of the plant and which are triggered by viruses and viroids.

Hoyle's suggestion of viruses as the driving force of evolution allows faster and major changes of organisms, since all new DNA sequences have been tested previously and are activated at once. The classic statement that copying errors  of the DNA when reproducing or damage caused by radiation with subsequent faulty repairs count for modifications, which are then evaluated positively by natural selection, provides   in principle a less plausible explanation for major changes in a short time.   

Hoyle was very much convinced of his hypotheses, that he sometime got a little too far in his discussions with the defenders of the official paradigms. Some of his false claims then were a starting point to put his entire hypotheses into question. In the beginning he was convinced that the missing links have never existed during the origin of species. When such fossil was found later, particularly the Archaeopteryx as a missing link between reptiles and birds, Hoyle ventured the assertion that it could be a forgery. This claim was not tenable, and Hole’s disgrace is still a favorite argument of his opponents to question Hole’s entire Panspermitheorie. "

"Interesting man, this Hoyle," said Vulko. "We should consider him as essential in our workshop. Since I intend to perform training in logic there, we have good examples of illogical assertions,   which should be avoided in order not to give the other side the ammunition to discredit the whole theory. "