race 'is descended from alien sewage'
A RESPECTED scientist
has put forward the stunning - if unsavoury -
possibility that humans are descended from sewage dumped overboard by
Dr Andrei Arkhipov, of the Institute of Radio Astronomy in Kharkiv in
Ukraine, claims that the ultimate origin of life on Earth began with
microbes, which had come through the atmosphere as lumps of alien waste.
is hardly the sort of explanation one normally associates with the
scientific community. Yet Dr Arkhipov's ideas have been deemed sufficiently
cogent to appear in the latest issue of The Observatory, a respected
astronomical research journal.
While many will turn their noses up at such a suggestion, scientists admit
that they have long had problems trying to explain how life on Earth began.
Conditions on the early Earth were so awful that no one can figure out
delicate chemicals like DNA needed for life managed to develop.
To get around this problem, some experts have suggested that perhaps life
came to Earth from outer space ready-made, in the form of bacteria or
viruses. The question then becomes: how did it get here?
Dr Arkhipov points out that our own space programme has led to
microbe-bearing "debris" being dumped in space. Organisms buried
such debris would also be very well protected from the rigours of the
cosmos. "For example, freeze-dried spores in drops of rocket fuel,
faecal material from our spacecraft, are quite well adapted to interstellar
travel," Dr Arkhipov writes.
And if we humans have already started dumping such stuff into space, argues
Dr Arkhipov, there is every reason to think other beings may have done
too. As he delicately puts it: "Contaminated artefacts could be in
With some back-of-the-envelope calculations, Dr Arkhipov estimates that
typical result of alien ablutions would be the creation of a "cordon
non-sanitaire" around stars extending for several light-years. Any
system passing by would run the risk of being showered with the stuff
thus being "fertilised" by whatever the alien dung contained.
Dr Arkhipov estimates that his explanation of the origin of life of Earth
still works if only one planet in every 20,000 indulges in unseemly hygiene
"In view of this estimate, the origin of life here immediately following
Earth's surface cooling about four billion years ago is not surprising".
Whatever the quality of the science, however, Dr Arkhipov's theory is
already creating a stir among religious commentators.
Nicholas Coote, occasional spokesman for the Catholic Bishops Conference
said that the alien dung theory was ultimately not so different from that
the biblical account of an origin from dust: "It isn't a very inspiring
idea, but it would be very funny if it is true - and I presume that God
have a fairly vigorous sense of humour".
Inevitably, however, the notion that we are ultimately descended from
has got up the noses of some. "It is speculative in the extreme",
Rev Clive Calver, director general of the Evangelical Alliance. "First
read that we are the creation of God, then scientists say we are descended
from apes. Now they say we're some sort of alien poo. How much further
By Robert Matthews, Science Correspondent