Diseases from Space was a highly controversial book when it first came out in 1979. The book develops the hypothesis that many of the most common diseases which afflict mankind, such as influenza, the common cold and whooping cough, have their origins in extraterrestrial sources. The two authors argue the case for outer space being the main source for these pathogens- or at least their causative agents.
Sir Fred Hoyle and Professor Nadine Chandra Wickramasinghe spent over 20 years investigating the nature and composition of interstellar dust. Though many theories regarding this dust had been postulated by various astronomers since the middle of the 19th century, all were found to be wanting as and when new data on the gas and dust clouds became available. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe's research led them to the astonishing conclusion that, as the spectroscopic data of the gas clouds matched those for desiccated bacteria, the core component of interstellar dust was indeed just that - desiccated bacteria. This led them to explain the spread of diseases in ways which challenged the mainstream human-to-human transmission process of diseases, substituting it with an alternative hypothesis which postulated that diseases such as influenza and the common cold are incident from space and fall upon the Earth in what they term "pathogenic patches." Hoyle and Wickramasinghe found themselves compelled to view the process of evolution in a manner at variance with the standard Darwinian model. They averred that genetic material in the form of incoming pathogens from the cosmos provided the mechanism for driving the evolutionary engine.