Diatoms…iiiiin spaaaaaaaaaaace!

You all know that the Journal of Cosmology is complete crap, right? In addition to some of the worst web design ever — it looks like a drunk clown puked up his fruit loops onto a grid of 1990s-style tables — the content is ridiculous, predictable, and credulous. Their big thing is seeing life in every space rock, or raining down from Mars, or drifting in vast clouds through the galaxy. I've criticized their absurd conclusions before, and jumped on the quality of their work, and in return…they photoshopped my face onto a picture of an obese woman in a negligee. Multiple times. That's the kind of rigorous scientific thinking we're dealing with here.

Their latest is an article claiming to have found diatoms in a meteorite (pdf). It's the same ol', same ol'. They have taken electron micrographs of samples from the rock, and found things that they claim look like organisms, most of which don't at all.

But this time there's a twist. They've got a picture of something that looks exactly like a diatom. A diatom that is identical to a natural, earthly species of freshwater diatom. Exactly like one. Now you or I, seeing that, would wonder why a space organism (or a Martian organism, or whatever) would evolve to look exactly like a species that evolved in a completely different environment, and how it could have converged in all its details on such remarkable similarity to a specific earthly species. Why, we might even suggest that it clearly looks like contamination. But no, not to the editors and authors at JoC (pronounced as you might expect): no, these are proof of diatoms in spaaaaaaace.

In addition, Phil Plait explains that it probably isn't even a meteorite — it doesn't look like a carbonaceous chondrite, and it's of highly dubious provenance.

Are we done with anything that comes out of the word processor of Wickramasinghe yet? Or at least with anything published in that joke of a journal, the Journal of Cosmology? I am, anyway. I wouldn't trust anything published in it.

By the way, Greg Laden found that Anthony Watts, the climate change denier, was completely taken in by this crap.

Anthony Watts, the anti-science global warming denailist, was not equipped to recognize this bogus science as bogus. We are not surprised.

Crackpots do tend to hang together.

Wickramasinghe NC, Wallis J, Wallis DH, Samaranayake A (2013) Fossil diatoms in a new carbonaceous meteorite. Journal of Cosmology 21(37).

More like this

Now I can't get The Muppet Show out of my head. Sigh. Meanwhile, I wonder if many of these crackpots(the ones who are not genuine cons) have some form of mental disorder that is as yet unnamed. What I mean by that is that perhaps there is a disorder that makes it difficult for afflicted people to correctly compensate for our inherent flaws in perceiving the world around us.

Laden is sadly misled and cannot read otherwise he would know that Wattswas not taken in at all.

Read the article or get new glasses and return to Earth from wherever you live.

Science blog? Where is the science?

By Miles Leggett (not verified) on 17 Jan 2013 #permalink

Wickramasinghe's discovery of organic compounds back in the 1980s is his only decent legacy to science. Since then, it seem, he became obsessed at vindicating his panspermia hypothesis, to the degree that he has totally lost respect to the scientific method and therefore has to avoid peer review.

I hope he is obsessed and biased, and not falsifying the little actual data he presents.

I meant: discovery of organic compounds in interstellar dust clouds.

Great post, but your link to Laden totally spoils it, since he cut out the contradictorty part of his screenshot.

By Michael D. (not verified) on 17 Jan 2013 #permalink

Get a load of this Muppet show episode!:


source: http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2013/01/17/chandra-wickramasinghe-co…

Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe, Director of the Buckingham Center for Astrobiology in the United kingdom will fly to Sri Lanka for obtaining further information of the Polonnaruwa Meteorite and meeting some Sri Lankan scientists for discussions over his team’s findings over this weekend.

“We are carrying out more tests and are more convinced that the Peradeniya criticism has no validity, The meteorite is of an unusual type, but all the evidence is that it fell from the skies. No one can challenge that diatoms are present inside this rock. The claim that it is a piece of Earth rock struck by lightening does not square up with the amount of volatile gases that are trapped in the matrix, and presumably the gas that caused the farmers wife to faint. At a temperature of 1500 degrees all such organics would have been evaporated. The piece I have is still out gassing.”

"(...)My diatom expert friend tells me that some of the diatoms are not soil diatom, many are fresh water diatoms, and some are of an unknown genus. It is looking like we have got here a sample of the bottom of a dried-out cometary lake or pond. We are conducting more tests to make sure. In particular we are looking at isotope signatures. I am hoping to go to Sri Lanka next weekend to get more information and to discuss our findings with the scientists there.”

“The clay minerals that are present in the meteorite most probably belonged to a comet. Clay minerals have been identified in the studies of comet Tempel 1. I think, from the sample we studied, it would appear that this is a fragment of a comet crust – the bottom layers of a cometary lake in which living organisms were present. Further tests would establish whether or not the piece we have is of Earth origin or comes from space. I don’t see how clay lumps could be scattered on the surface where this meteorite was collected, and how lightening could have struck to produce what we have. Of course the extraterrestrial life theory would be challenged by conservative scientists, but extraordinary and implausible assumptions seem to be needed. How also do we explain the occurrence of this field of meteorites after a fireball event?"

Wickramasinghe was responding to the criticism of some university dons from the Geology Department of the Peradeniya University that Polonnaruwa Meteorite could well be terrestrial clay subjected to the high heat of lightening. In a news broadcast by a TV channel Professor Rohana Chandrajith made the criticism and Professor Athula Senaratne collaborated with him.

Mike-thunderbolts and lightening(sic) very very frightning (sic).

By braindead (not verified) on 20 Jan 2013 #permalink

Chandra Wickramasinghe: "My diatom expert friend tells me that some of the diatoms are not soil diatom, many are fresh water diatoms, and some are of an unknown genus."

I just found out who is Wickramasinghe's "diatom expert": Richard Hoover. This is the guy NASA was forced to put a muzzle on because he was using his employment in NASA to publish in the JoC in their behalf.