Wickramasinghe, N. Chandra (1939–)
Chandra Wickramasinghe is a 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.
1. Wickramasinghe, N. C., "Formaldehyde polymers in interstellar space", Nature, 252, 462, 1974.
2. Hoyle, F., and Wickramasinghe, N. C. "Polysaccharides and the infrared spectra of galactic sources", Nature, 268, 610, 1977.