Chandra Wickramasinghe at the University of Buckingham
|Born||Nalin Chandra Wickramasinghe
20 January 1939
Colombo, Sri Lanka
|Fields||Astronomy and mathematics|
|Known for||Organic composition of cosmic dust|
Nalin Chandra Wickramasinghe (born 20 January 1939) is a Sri Lankan-born British mathematician. He is currently Director of the Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology, a private company and charity.
He was a student and collaborator of Fred Hoyle. Their joint work on the infrared spectra of interstellar grains led to developing the hypothesis of panspermia. It proposes that cosmic dust in the interstellar medium and in comets is partly organic, and that life on Earth was 'seeded' from space rather than arising through abiogenesis. His latest work attempts to extend the hypothesis of cometary panspermia to that of cosmic ancestry in collaboration with Carl H. Gibson, Rhawn Joseph and Rudolph Schild. He is also making further identifications of spectral features in comets and in the interstellar medium.
He has advocated that elementary living organisms like the lichen-forming alga spores present in the Red rain in Kerala are of extraterrestrial origin and that pathogens as the SARS virus also arrived on Earth from deep space carried in asteroids and comets. He has attempted to generate controversies in both academic and public circles, by bringing his arguments into the discussion about creationism and evolutionism. Though Chandra Wickramasinghe's latest speculations have no support from the scientific community, he has fascinated some public media. 
Wickramasinghe studied at Royal College, Colombo, the University of Ceylon where he graduated in 1960 with a BSc First Class Honours degree in mathematics, and at Trinity College, Cambridge and Jesus College, Cambridge where he obtained his PhD and ScD degrees. He was previously Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge (1963-1973); Professor and Head of the Department of Applied Mathematics and Astronomy at University College Cardiff (1973-1988); Professor in the School of Mathematics, University of Wales College of Cardiff (1988-1998); and Professor and Director of the Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology (1999-2011), now a private company and charity.
Scientific career 
In 1960 he commenced work in Cambridge on his PhD degree under the supervision of the late Sir Fred Hoyle, and published his first scientific paper "On Graphite Particles as Interstellar Grains” in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1962. He was awarded a PhD degree in Mathematics in 1963 and was elected a Fellow of Jesus College Cambridge in the same year. In the following year he was appointed a Staff Member of the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge. Here he continued to work on the nature of interstellar dust, publishing many papers in this field that led to a shift of emphasis in astronomy from inorganic dust models to organic grains.
|“||My most significant astronomical contribution was to develop the theory of organic grains in comets and in the interstellar medium. This was done during the 1970s and 1980s, and it is now accepted by everyone almost without remembering its origins! I feel I also played a part in the birth of the science of astrobiology.||”|
He published the first definitive book on Interstellar Grains in 1967. He has made many contributions to this field, publishing over 350 papers in peer-reviewed journals, over 75 in Nature (journal). In 1974 he first proposed the hypothesis that some dust in interstellar space was largely organic (contain carbon), which Wickramasinghe later proved to be correct. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe further contended that extraterrestrial life forms continue to enter the Earth's atmosphere, and may be responsible for epidemic outbreaks, new diseases, and the genetic novelty necessary for macroevolution. In a virtual presentation on April 7, 2009, physicist Stephen Hawking endorsed the hypothesis. Chandra Wickramasinghe had the longest running collaboration with Fred Hoyle and is responsible for forging a link between biology and astronomy in the late 1970s. Their publications on books and papers arguing for panspermia and a cosmic hypothesis of life are nevertheless controversial.
Detection of living cells in the stratosphere 
On the 20 January 2001 the Indian Space Research Organisation conducted a balloon flight from Hyderabad, India to collect stratospheric dust from a height of 41 km with a view to testing for the presence of living cells. The collaborators on this project included a team of UK scientists led by Wickramasinghe. In a paper presented at a SPIE conference in San Diego in 2002 the detection of evidence for viable microorganisms from 41 km was presented. However, the experiment did not present evidence as to whether the findings are incoming microbes from space rather than microbes carried up to 41 km from the surface of the Earth.
In 2005 the ISRO group carried out a second stratospheric sampling experiment from 41 km altitude and reported the isolation of three new species of bacteria including one that they named Janibacter hoylei sp.nov. in honour of Fred Hoyle. However, these facts do not prove that bacteria on Earth originated in the cosmic environment.
Samplings of the stratosphere have also been carried out by Yang et al. (2005, 2009). During the experiment strains of highly radiation-resistant Deinococcus bacterium were detected at heights up to 35 km. Nevertheless these authors have abstained from linking these discoveries to panspermia.
Extraterrestrial microbes 
On May 24, 2003 The Lancet published a letter from Wickramasinghe, jointly signed by Milton Wainwright and Jayant Narlikar, in which they hypothesized that the virus that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) could be extraterrestrial in origin and not originated from chickens. The Lancet subsequently published three responses to this letter, showing that the hypothesis was not evidence-based, and casting doubts on the quality of the experiments referenced by Wickramasinghe in his letter.
Wickramasinghe was also involved in coordinating analyses of the Red rain in Kerala in collaborations with Godfrey Louis.
Participation in the creation-evolution debate 
|“||Once again the Universe gives the appearance of being biologically constructed, and on this occasion on a truly vast scale. Once again those who consider such thoughts to be too outlandish to be taken seriously will continue to do so. While we ourselves shall continue to take the view that those who believe they can match the complexities of the Universe by simple experiments in their laboratories will continue to be disappointed.||”|
Wickramasinghe attempts to present scientific evidence to support the notion of cosmic ancestry and "the possibility of high intelligence in the Universe and of many increasing levels of intelligence converging toward a God as an ideal limit." 
During the 1981 scientific creationist trial in Arkansas, Wickramasinghe was the only scientist testifying for the defense of creationism and against evolution. In addition, he wrote that the Archaeopteryx fossil finding is a forgery, a charge that the expert scientific community considers an "absurd" and "ignorant" statement.
Honours and awards 
- Commonwealth Scholar at Trinity College, Cambridge, 1960-1963
- Powell Prize for English Verse, Trinity College, 1961
- Decorated by the President of Sri Lanka with the titular honour of Vidya Jyothi, 1992
- Honorary DLitt, Sōka University (Japan), 1996
- Doctor of Science (honoris causa), University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka, 2004
- Interstellar Grains (Chapman & Hall, London, 1967)
- Light Scattering Functions for Small Particles with Applications in Astronomy (Wiley, New York, 1973)
- Solid-State Astrophysics (ed. with D.J. Morgan) (D. Reidel, Boston, 1975)
- Interstellar Matter (with F.D. Khan & P.G. Mezger) (Swiss Society of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 1974)
- The Cosmic Laboratory (University College of Cardiff, 1975)
- Lifecloud: The Origin of Life in the Universe (with Fred Hoyle) (J.M. Dent, London, 1978)
- Diseases from Space (with Fred Hoyle) (J.M. Dent, London, 1979)
- Origin of Life (with Fred Hoyle) (University College Cardiff Press, 1979)
- Space Travellers: The Bringers of Life (with Fred Hoyle) (University College Cardiff Press, 1981)
- Evolution from Space (with Fred Hoyle) (J.M. Dent, London, 1981) ISBN 978-0-460-04535-3
- Is Life an Astronomical Phenomenon? (University College Cardiff Press, 1982) ISBN 9780906449493
- Why Neo-Darwinism Does Not Work (with Fred Hoyle) (University College Cardiff Press, 1982) ISBN 9780906449509
- Proofs that Life is Cosmic (with Fred Hoyle) (Institute of Fundamental Studies, Sri Lanka, Memoirs no.1, 1982)
- From Grains to Bacteria (with Fred Hoyle) (University College Cardiff Press, 1984) ISBN 9780906449646
- Fundamental Studies and the Future of Science (ed.) (University College Cardiff Press, 1984) ISBN 9780906449578
- Living Comets (with Fred Hoyle) (University College Cardiff Press, 1985) ISBN 9780906449790
- Archaeopteryx, the Primordial Bird (with Fred Hoyle) (Christopher Davies, Swansea, 1986) ISBN 9780715406656
- The Theory of Cosmic Grains (with Fred Hoyle) (Kluwer, Dordrecht, 1991) ISBN 9780792311898
- Life on Mars? The Case for a Cosmic Heritage (with Fred Hoyle) (Clinical Press, Bristol, 1997) ISBN 9781854570413
- Astronomical Origins of Life: Steps towards Panspermia (with Fred Hoyle) (Kluwer, Dordrecht, 2000) ISBN 9780792360810
- Cosmic Dragons: Life and Death on Our Planet (Souvenir Press, London, 2001) ISBN 9780285636064
- Fred Hoyle’s Universe (ed. with G. Burbidge and J. Narlikar) (Kluwer, Dordrecht, 2003) ISBN 9781402014154
- A Journey with Fred Hoyle (World Scientific, Singapore, 2005) ISBN 9789812565792
- Comets and the Origin of Life (with J. Wickramasinghe and W. Napier) (World Scientific, Hackensack NJ, 2010) ISBN 9789812814005
- Hoyle, F. and Wickramasinghe, N.C., 1962. On graphite particles as interstellar grains, Mon.Not.Roy.Astr.Soc. 124, 417-433
- Hoyle, F. and Wickramasinghe, N.C., 1969. Interstellar Grains, Nature 223, 450-462 doi:10.1038/223459a0
- Wickramasinghe, N.C., 1974. Formaldehyde polymers in interstellar space, Nature 252, 462-463
- Wickramasinghe, N.C., Hoyle, F., Brooks, J. and Shaw, G., 1977. Prebiotic polymers and infrared spectra of galactic sources, Nature 269, 674-676 doi:10.1038/269674a0
- Hoyle, F. and Wickramasinghe, N.C., 1977. Identification of the λ2,200A interstellar absorption feature, Nature 270, 323-324
- Hoyle, F. and Wickramasinghe, N.C., 1977. Primitive grain clumps and organic compounds in carbonaceous chondrites, Nature, 264, 45-46
- Hoyle, F. and Wickramasinghe, N.C., 1977. Polysaccharides and infrared spectra of galactic sources, Nature 268, 610-612
- Hoyle, F. and Wickramasinghe, N.C., 1979. On the nature of interstellar grains, Astrophysics and Space Science 66, 77-90 doi:10.1007/BF00648361
- Hoyle, F. and Wickramasinghe, N.C., 1979. Biochemical chromophores and the interstellar extinction at ultraviolet wavelengths, Astrophysics and Space Science 65, 241-244 doi:10.1007/BF00643503
- Hoyle, F., Wickramasinghe, N.C., S. Al-Mufti et al., 1982. Infrared spectroscopy over the 2.9-3.9μm waveband in biochemistry and astronomy, Astrophysics and Space Science 83, 405-409 doi:10.1023/A:1002417307802
- Hoyle, F., Wickramasinghe, N.C., S. Al-Mufti, 1982. Organo-siliceous biomolecules and the infrared spectrum of the Trapezium nebula, Astrophysics and Space Science 86, 63-69 doi:10.1007/BF00651830
- Hoyle, F. and Wickramasinghe, N.C., 1983. Bacterial life in space, Nature 306, 420 doi:10.1038/306420a0
- Hoyle, F. and Wickramasinghe, N.C., 1986. The case for life as a cosmic phenomenon, Nature 322, 509-511
- Hoyle, F. and Wickramasinghe, N.C., 1990. Influenza – evidence against contagion, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 83. 258-261
- Napier, W.M., Wickramasinghe, J.T, Wickramasinghe, N.C., 2007. The origin of life in comets, International Journal of Astrobiology 6(4), 321-323 doi:10.1017/S1473550407003941
- Rauf, K. and Wickramasinghe, C., 2010. Evidence for biodegradation products in the interstellar medium, International Journal of Astrobiology 9(1), 29-34 doi:10.1017/S1473550409990334
- Wickramasinghe, N. C., 2010. The astrobiological case for our cosmic ancestry, International Journal of Astrobiology 9(2), 119–129 doi:10.1017/S1473550409990413
- Wickramasinghe, N.C., Wallis, J., Wallis, D.H., Schild, R.E. and Gibson, C.H., 2012. Life-bearing planets in the solar vicinity, Astrophysics and Space Science 341.2, 295-9 DOI: 10.1007/s10509-012-1092-8
- Chandra Wickramasinghe, A Journey with Fred Hoyle: The Search for Cosmic Life, World Scientific Publishing, 2005, ISBN 981-238-912-1
- Janaki Wickramasinghe, Chandra Wickramasinghe and William Napier, Comets and the Origin of Life, World Scientific Publishing, 2009, ISBN 981-256-635-X
- Chandra Wickramasinghe and Daisaku Ikeda, Space and Eternal Life, Journeyman Press, 1998, ISBN 1-85172-060-X
- Reich, Eugenie Samuel (2011-03-17). "Closed astrobiology centre to be reborn as private company". Nature News. Nature Publishing Group.
- "Historical background — University of Buckingham". Buckingham.ac.uk. Retrieved 2013-01-18.
- Connor, Steve (2011-03-01). "We're all aliens... how humans began life in outer space". The Independent. The Independent.
- Jayawaradhana, Walter (2011-03-19). "Chandra Wickramasinghe dismissed from Cardiff University in Wales". LankaWeb. LankaWeb.
- "Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe — University of Buckingham". Buckingham.ac.uk. Retrieved 2013-01-18.
- "This Week’s Citation Classic". ISI Current Contents. 1986-06-02. Retrieved 2013-01-18.
- "Archive of key historical publications — University of Buckingham". Buckingham.ac.uk. 1980-04-03. Retrieved 2013-01-18.
- "Interstellar grains (Book, 1967)". [WorldCat.org]. Retrieved 2013-01-18.
- Nature, vol: 252, 462, 1974; and Nature,Vol 268, 610, 1977.
- Wickramasinghe, D. T. & Allen, D. A. The 3.4-µm interstellar absorption feature. Nature 287, 518−519 (1980). Allen, D. A. & Wickramasinghe, D. T. Diffuse interstellar absorption bands between 2.9 and 4.0 µm. Nature 294, 239−240 (1981). Wickramasinghe, D. T. & Allen, D. A. Three components of 3–4 μm absorption bands. Astrophys. Space Sci. 97, 369−378 (1983).
- Fred Hoyle, Chandra Wickramasinghe and John Watson (1986). Viruses from Space and Related Matters. University College Cardiff Press.
- "Ruminations on other worlds". StatePress.com. April 7, 2009. Retrieved 2012-10-10.
- Shivaji, S., Chaturvedi, P., Begum, Z. et al, 2009. Janibacter hoylei sp.nov., Bacillus isronensis sp.nov. and Bacillus aryabhattai sp.nov. isolated from cryotubes used for collecting air from the upper atmosphere, Int.J.Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, 59, 2977-2986 doi:10.1099/ijs.0.002527-0
- Yang, Y., Yokobori, S., Kawaguchi, J., et al, 2005. Investigation of cultivable microorganisms in the stratosphere collected by using a balloon in 2005, JAXA Research Development Report, JAXA-RR-08-001, 35-42
- Yang, Y.; Yokobori, S.; Yamagishi, A. (2009). "Assessing panspermia hypothesis by microorganisms collected in the high altitude atmosphere" (PDF). Biol. Sci. Space 23 (3): 151–163.
- Wickramasinghe, C; Wainwright, M; Narlikar, J (2003 May 24). "SARS--a clue to its origins?". Lancet 361 (9371): 1832. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(03)13440-X. PMID 12781581.
- Willerslev, E; Hansen, AJ; Rønn, R; Nielsen, OJ (2003 Aug 2). "Panspermia--true or false?". Lancet 362 (9381): 406; author reply 407–8. PMID 12907025.
- Bhargava, PM (2003 Aug 2). "Panspermia--true or false?". Lancet 362 (9381): 407; author reply 407–8. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(03)14041-X. PMID 12907028.
- Ponce de Leon, S; Lazcano, A (2003 Aug 2). "Panspermia--true or false?". Lancet 362 (9381): 406–7; author reply 407–8. PMID 12907026.
- Creationism versus Darwinism. Published in Darwinism, Design, and Public Education (2003)
- Evolution from Space: A Theory of Cosmic Creationism. Authors: Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe. ISBN 0-671-49263-2
- Our Place in the Cosmos: The Unfinished Revolution by Wickramasinghe and Hoyle. (1993)
- Evolution From Space (The Omni Lecture) and Other Papers on the Origin of Life. By Fred Hoyle (Enslow; Hillside, NJ; 1982)
- Figures don't Lie but Creationists Figure. By Alec Grynspan ( 9 November 1997)
- Gangappa, Rajkumar; Wickramasinghe; Wainwright; Kumar; Louis; Chandra Wickramasinghe, Milton Wainwright, A. Santhosh Kumar, Godfrey Louis (29 Aug 2010). "Growth and replication of red rain cells at 121°C and their red fluorescence". In Hoover, Richard B; Levin, Gilbert V; Rozanov, Alexei Y et al. ArXiv.org. Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology XIII 7819: 18. Bibcode:2010SPIE.7819E..18G. doi:10.1117/12.876393. Retrieved 2011-07-29.
- Fred Hoyle; Chandra Wickramasinghe. Archaeopteryx, the Primordial Bird: A Case of Fossil Forgery. p. 135. ISBN 0715406655. Retrieved 2013-01-01.
- [Emergence of Life on Earth: A Historical and Scientific Overview] By Iris Fry. Rutgers University Press, Feb 1, 2000
- Evolution, Creationism, and Intelligent Design. By Allene Phy-Olsen.
- Charig, A. J.; Greenaway, F.; Milner, A. N.; Walker, C. A.; and Whybrow, P. J. (1986). "Archaeopteryx is not a forgery". Science 232 (4750): 622–626. Bibcode:1986Sci...232..622C. doi:10.1126/science.232.4750.622. PMID 17781413.
- "A Case of Fossil Forgery?". AskWhy. 18 November 2012. Retrieved 2013-01-01.
- "Light scattering functions for small particles, with applications in astronomy (Book, 1973)". [WorldCat.org]. Retrieved 2013-01-18.
- "Solid state astrophysics : proceedings of a symposium held at the University College, Cardiff, Wales, 9-12 July 1974 (Book, 1976)". [WorldCat.org]. 1974-07-12. Retrieved 2013-01-18.
- "Interstellar matter (Book, 1972)". [WorldCat.org]. Retrieved 2013-01-18.
- "The cosmic laboratory (Book, 1975)". [WorldCat.org]. 1975-05-20. Retrieved 2013-01-18.
- "Lifecloud : Origin of Life in Universe. (Book, 1978)". [WorldCat.org]. Retrieved 2013-01-18.
- "Diseases from space (Book, 1980)". [WorldCat.org]. Retrieved 2013-01-18.
- "The origin of life (Book, 1980)". [WorldCat.org]. Retrieved 2013-01-18.
- "Space travellers : the bringers of life (Book, 1981)". [WorldCat.org]. Retrieved 2013-01-18.
- "Proofs that life is Cosmic (Book, 1982)". [WorldCat.org]. Retrieved 2013-01-18.
- Wickramasinghe, N. C. Formaldehyde polymers in interstellar Space. Cosmology Science Publishers. Retrieved 2013-01-18.
- F., Hoyle; N. C., Wickramasinghe (1976-11-04). "Primitive grain clumps and organic compounds in carbonaceous chondrites". Nature (Nature Publishing Group) 264. Retrieved 2013-01-18.
- F., Hoyle; N. C., Wickramasinghe (1977-08-18). "Polysaccharides and infrared spectra of galactic sources". Nature (Nature Publishing Group) 268. Retrieved 2013-01-18.
- F., Hoyle; N. C., Wickramasinghe (1986-08-07). "The case for life as a cosmic phenomenon". Nature (Nature Publishing Group) 322. Retrieved 2013-01-18.
- Hoyle, F.; Wickramasinghe, N. C. (April 1990). "Influenza-evidence against contagion: discussion paper". Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine (Royal Society of Medicine) 83 (4): 258–261. PMC 1292615. PMID 2342043. Retrieved 2013-01-18.
- Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology (BCAB)
- Review of Space and Eternal Life
- A panspermic view of life Interview with N. Chandra Wickramasinghe
- Star treatment for astronomer
- Professor Wickramasinghe Bio
- 'Life from space' expert loses funding
- Professor Wickramasinghe's profile at the University of Buckingham
- Biography in Debrett's People of Today