March 17, 2010

From Rex Mottershead:

Re: Report: cells “from space” have unusual makeup (Sept. 8, 2008): This story is now more than 8 years old. An assessment by the Center for Earth Sciences, India, fairly soon after the initial fall of ‘red rain’ rather implausibly concluded that the red contaminant in the rain fall was nothing more than spores from a locally-widespread lichen, and the story would have died then if Louis Godrey of Mahatma Gandhi University had not added his own rather startling findings. Between 2003 and 2008, Louis published a series of papers and articles in which he asserted that the ‘particles’ in the red rain were in fact organisms of an unknown type - extremophiles capable of reproducing in various culture media at high pressures and temperatures up to 300 deg C, and which contained fluorescent molecules exhibiting novel characteristics.

“The red cells found in the red rain in Kerala, India are now considered as a possible case of extraterrestrial life form. These cells can undergo rapid replication even at an extreme high temperature of 300 deg C. They can also be cultured in diverse unconventional chemical substrates. The molecular composition of these cells is yet to be identified”.

Samples were forwarded early on to Prof. Chandra Wickramasinghe of Cardif University, and Dr Milton Wainwright of Sheffield University but apart from a recent, very hedging statement from Prof. Wickramasinghe about the possible presence of DNA in his samples - virtually nothing. (This, presumably to satisfy the flat earthers who ridicule even the possibility of life without DNA or RNA. )

According to Godfrey Louis this organism (if that is what it is) is just about the greatest survivor of all time. How difficult can it be to flick some red goo into a boiling vat of nutrients (or a hundred different vats of nutrients) and see if anything grows? If it does, it certainly isn’t some ‘common alga’. As a one-time research assistant in microbiology I know just how quickly things can be done when a publication date looms. Yet in 6 years or more, no-one seems to have been able to either confirm or refute the claims made for reproduction of the organism, its apparently strange fluorescence, or virtually anything else of any significance.

As someone whose taxes go to support both UK universities involved, I for one am very curious to know what is going on here. If Godrey Louis’ claims are true then this is the most important story of the millennium, and deserves to be the focus of massive international research. If they are not, and the red colouration is due to nothing more than some algal spores - then lets have the research showing this to be the case published, and formally put the whole thing to bed so we can forget about ‘panspermia’ and the possibility of a universe teeming with diverse life forms.

Rex Mottershead
Somerset, UK


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