Cambrian Explosion – A Cosmic Infection

I already posted this on Facebook, but I thought I would take a few mins to expand here.

The Hoyle-Wickramasinghe (H-W) conjecture asserts that life here not only started ‘out there‘, but ‘out there‘ has periodically being interfering with us ever since; raining down eggs and DNA from space.

A recent paper claims the entire Cambrian Explosion may have been the result of the extra-terrestrial contamination of our planet.

That octopuses arrived as ‘Eggs from Space’—mentioned as one possibility—, does seem a bit tenuous to me. But the other mechanism mentioned in the paper, that viruses arrived embedded in ‘boloids’ and proceeded to insert genes from a far more advanced planetary ecology (e.g. Martian Mollusks), while infecting early terrestrial life, sounds more plausible.


“The evolution from squid to octopus is compatible with a suite of genes inserted by extraterrestrial viruses.”


There is other evidence of Panspermia—from the Tardigrade, which proves that surviving space travel without a suit is not inconceivable for  biological organisms, to evidence of organic matter, including bacteria and viruses, appearing anomalously in the upper atmosphere.

Some highlights of the article:
“One particular focus are the recent studies which date the emergence of the complex retroviruses of vertebrate lines at or just before the Cambrian Explosion of ~500 Ma. Such viruses are known to be plausibly associated with major evolutionary genomic processes. We believe this coincidence is not fortuitous but is consistent with virus-bearing cometary-bolide bombardment events.”

“A second focus is the remarkable evolution of intelligent complexity (Cephal opods) culminating in the emergence of the Octopus.”

“A third focus concerns the micro-organism fossil evidence contained within meteorites as well as the detection in the upper atmosphere of apparent incoming life-bearing particles from space.”

“In our view the totality of the multifactorial data and critical analyses assembled by Fred Hoyle, Chandra Wickramasinghe and their many colleagues since the 1960s leads to a very plausible conclusion e life may have been seeded here on Earth by life-bearing comets as soon as conditions on Earth allowed it to flourish (about or just before 4.1 Billion years ago); and living organisms such as space-resistant and space-hardy bacteria, viruses, more complex eukaryotic cells, fertilised ova and seeds have been continuously delivered ever since to Earth so being one important driver of further terrestrial evolution which has resulted in considerable genetic diversity and which has led to the emergence of mankind…”

As one of my readers pointed out, this is contentious and far from generally accepted. However, fringe theories dismissed out of hand by the establishment do appeal to me!

It would certainly explain why all the SciFi aliens look so much like us… and seem to have no trouble making babies together!

Martian Octopus image: Cal MacDonald

NAUTILUS-X Spaceship

I just found this while looking for inspiration for the Forward’s Prosperity space station that features in Book Four of my Singularity’s Children series.

The Nautilus-X (Non-Atmospheric Universal Transport Intended for Lengthy United States Exploration) is intended for long-duration exo-atmospheric space journeys.

I love it!


And there is even an ISS Demonstrator mission.. .which will probably never get off the ground with NASA, but maybe Musk (or Putin) can build it instead…

Tech from Singularity’s Children: Magneto-Plasma Propulsion

In my Singularity’s Children books, huge Sky Whales and floating party dirigibles use electrohydrodynamic (EHD) thrusters to generate lift and thrust. I imagine these a silent and ethereal, a near-future alternative to anti-gravity.

The tech is not pure ScFi, there are already ion-drives operating in space, but their use for atmospheric propulsion is still a way off.

A bit of background: Jet engines create thrust by burning vaporized fuel in compressed air. The combustion creates a controlled explosion which drives air out the back generating thrust to push the aircraft forward, while also turning the intake compressor to grab up more air.

Magneto-Plasma thrusters, on the other hand, use electricity to produce an ionized gas (plasma) and accelerate it with electric or magnetic fields up to extreme velocities. They frugally create thrust from a small amount of propellant traveling very fast.

These super-efficient engines are currently confined to vacuum, e.g. station keeping satellites or propelling interplanetary probes, but I was super interested to read that the first atmospheric, air-breathing, magneto-plasma jet engine has been successfully prototyped.

The European Space Agency has just demoed similar technology for operating at the edges of the atmosphere, sucking in and ionizing air rather than carrying propellant.

As I have mentioned before, writing near-future SciFi is a real race against reality!!