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No. 2: January 1978

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Infections From Comets

Astronomer Fred Hoyle notes that pandemics and plagues have generally appeared very suddenly and unexpectedly, sweeping the globe with hard-to-explain swiftness. Noting in passing that comets have always been considered bad omens, he postulates that cometary matter may actually contain bacteria and viruses that infect the earth's populace as the planet passes through cometary tails.

Recent spectroscopic studies of interstellar matter and comets themselves indicate a richness of life-associated compounds that infers that outer space might well be the breeding ground of simple life. The authors review some of the strange history of epidemic diseases and wonder if their theory of germbearing comets might not satisfy the data as well as the more common hypothesis of random mutation and genetic recombination.

(Hoyle, Fred, and Wickramasinghe, Chandra; "Does Epidemic Disease Come from Space?" New Scientist, 76:402, 1977.)

From Science Frontiers #2, January 1978. 1978-2000 William R. Corliss