Thursday, February 19, 2009

'Red rain cells' may be from outer space

This is crazy. But follow us here. At Newsvine, Pound360 stumbled across a story, "Scientists Say Red "Rain" Cells May Be Extraterrestrial Life Forms." (Originally published at paranormal news site Earthfiles.com)

We check it out. It's the story of a mysterious event in India, back in 2001, when raindrops stained people's clothes with pinkish-red splatters in the province of Kerala. Blood? Not exactly. But the rain droplets were full of red cells, seemingly of organic nature.

In the lab, a doctor Godfrey Louis (then a Professor of Pure and Applied Physics at Mahatma Ghandi Universiy) tested the red rain cells and found they could survive, even thrive under temperatures up to 572 degrees Fahrenheit and pressure up to 300 pouds-per-square-centimeter.

And here's where it gets really, really bizarre. Godfrey actually observed the cells "reproducing" by producing smaller cells internally; as many as fifteen daughter cells in a single parent. The catch? There's no evidence the cells have any DNA. That ain't right.

This is usually the point where Pound360 rolls the eyes and moves on. But we decided to dig a little. And it turns out that,
according to a CNN report in 2006, Dr. Louis published a paper in the "prestigious peer-reviewed" journal Astrophysics and Space Science on the red rain cells. In the paper, Louis suggests the microbes came from outer space.

From the CNN Report: "Dozens of [Louis'] experiments suggest that the particles may lack DNA yet still reproduce plentifully, even in water superheated to nearly 600 degrees Fahrenheit."

As far as we know, life can't survive in water more than 250 degrees.

Could the red particles have hitched a ride to Earth on a comet that broke up in the skies over India and mixed with rain clouds? If so, "the cells would be the first confirmed evidence of alien life and, as such, could yield tantalizing new clues to the origins of life on Earth."

According to a Wikipedia entry on the "red rain in Kerala," colored rain has been falling in the region since 1896. And the government has studied it. Their conclusion, "the rains had been colored by airborne spores from a locally prolific terrestrial alga."

(Image of "red rain" water from Kerala by
Vsasi via Wikipedia Commons)

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.