Wickramasinghe, N. Chandra (1939–)
Sri Lankan astronomer who has made contributions to the theory of cosmic
dust and is a leading advocate of the panspermia
hypothesis. A long-time colleague of the late Fred Hoyle,
Wickramasinghe is currently Professor of Applied Mathematics and Astronomy
at Cardiff University of Wales and Director of the Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology.
Wickramasinghe and Hoyle began arguing for a modern version of panspermia
in the mid-1970s. The first identification of organic polymers in interstellar
grains was made by Wickramasinghe in 19741 and the first association
of a biopolymer with interstellar dust was made by Hoyle and Wickramasinghe
in 19772. In 1974 Wickramasinghe proposed that dust in interstellar
space and in comets was largely organic – an idea that now has wide
observational support. However, his claims to have recovered organisms of
extraterrestrial origin from the stratosphere and that some global outbreaks
of disease, including 'flu epidemics and possibly SARS, are caused by viruses
from space have met with some skepticism. Formerly a Fellow of Jesus College
Cambridge, Wickramasinghe is an award-winning poet and the author or co-author
of over 20 books and over 250 scientific papers.
- Wickramasinghe, N. C., "Formaldehyde polymers in interstellar space",
Nature, 252, 462, 1974.
- Hoyle, F., and Wickramasinghe, N. C. "Polysaccharides and the infrared
spectra of galactic sources", Nature, 268, 610, 1977.