At http://phys.org/print327833513.html … one of the big stories this week was the claim by the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS that cosmonauts have discovered sea plankton on the outside of the International Space Station. Other organisms have also been found – such as bacteria. Plankton is known to get transported into the atmosphere by the process of evaporation of the ocean surface – and should not be too much of a surprise. It is the other organisms that have turned the light bulb on in some heads.
NASA doesn't seem to know much about the Russian report – but why would they? However, the story is also reported at http://cosmictusk.com/space_station_plankton/ … but with a different twist. It is claimed there is a link with Panspermia – the theory placed on the table by Hoyle and Wickramasinghe (all those years ago). This is the theory that life came from space – and meteors and comets transported it from elsewhere. Only a week or so ago Wickramasinghe, who is now at Buckingham University, reported on the discovery of an aquatic diatom in a meteorite. George Howard makes the suggestion the plankton on the Space Station may actually support the Wickramasinghe claim, and adds, I can almost see Phil Plait busy at his typewriter right now. He specialises in the defence of the known and debunks the innovative. A marvellous description of his technique. Mind you, Plait's science blog is very popular. People must desire to be comforted by the way he repeats closely those things they have faith in as they were taught them in education. Plait seems to plug into some kind of human need – a sort of crutch that he supports rather than kicks away, as new ideas would do.
Anyway, here is a link to Wickramasinghe speaking on the very subject of Life in Space – go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5lFeW1FWfo .. enjoy.