We Are The Aliens (2006)
We Are the Aliens (2006)
Horizon explores the fascinating science of panspermia, the idea that life on earth came from another planet. A group of scientists are part of a groundswell of opinion who claim that there is a good chance that life on earth began when alien microbes first fell to earth about 3.8 billion years ago. If this is correct, then all creatures on earth evolved from alien life forms. In effect, even homo sapiens are descended from aliens: we are the aliens.
Clouds of alien life forms are sweeping through outer space and infecting planets with life – it may not be as far-fetched as it sounds.
The idea that life on Earth came from another planet has been around as a modern scientific theory since the 1960s when it was proposed by Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe. At the time they were ridiculed for their idea – known as panspermia. But now, with growing evidence, it's back in vogue and even being studied by NASA.
We meet the scientists on a mission to get to the bottom of the beginnings of life on Earth - from the team in Texas who are lovingly building a robotic submarine called DEPTHX to explore a moon of Jupiter, to Southern India where they are investigating a mysterious red rain which fell for two months in 2001. According to local scientist Godfrey Louis, the rain contains biological cells unlike any he had seen before – with no DNA and the ability to replicate at 300°C. Louis has come to the conclusion that the cells are extra-terrestrial in origin.
Could all this really be proof that We are the aliens?
Did You Know?
The first known mention of the idea of panspermia was in the writings of the Greek philosopher Anaxagoras in the 5th Century BC.
In the 1960s, scientists Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramsinghe first came up with the remarkable theory of panspermia, that clouds of alien life forms sweeping through outer space could ‘infect’ planets with life. At the time they were ridiculed but over the last decade the field of panspermia has turned into a reputable science. NASA now has many departments developed to investigating the possibility of life on other planets and how it could get to earth. Other scientists explore remarkable earth bacteria that survive in extremely hostile conditions – as bad if not worse than they would encounter out in space – even those hardy bacteria that can thrive inside nuclear reactors.
In England, scientist Emma Taylor is discovering whether bacteria can actually survive the enormous accelerations and decelerations necessary from alien microbes as they travel from planet to planet by meteorites. Her technique is straightforward – she fires the microbes out of an enormous gun at speeds approaching a mile a second. Her result: some microbes actually survive!
Together these scientists are part of a groundswell of opinion who claim that there is a good chance that life on earth began when alien microbes first fell to earth about 3.8 billion years ago. If this is correct then all creatures on earth evolved from alien life forms. In effect even homo sapiens are descended from aliens: we are the aliens.
In July 2001 a mysterious red rain fell over parts of southern India. Was this coloured rain merely caused by dust blown in from Arabia? When local scientist Godfrey Louis looked at samples of the rain under an electron microscope he found biological cells, but cells like no others he’d ever seen. They contained no DNA and even more remarkable the cells could replicate at 300 degrees centigrade. He became convinced the cells were alien creatures that had come from a meteorite that had broken up in the earth’s atmosphere. It sounds like science fiction but incredibly scientists around the world are taking careful note of Louis’s ideas.
Now groups of scientists in the UK (including Chandra’s laboratory) and America are doing further tests to find out whether the organisms from the red rain really could have really come from another planet. And perhaps most interested of all is Chandra Wickramsinghe who has flown out to India to meet Godfrey Louis for the very first time.
Producer: Andrew Thompson
Series Editor: Andrew Cohen