CRIMSON TIDE | It rained aliens over Kerala
THERE IS a small bottle containing a red fluid on a shelf in Sheffield University's microbiology laboratory. The liquid looks cloudy and uninteresting. Yet, if one group of scientists is correct, the phial contains the first samples of extraterrestrial life isolated by researchers.Updated: Mar 07, 2006 12:31 IST
THERE IS a small bottle containing a red fluid on a shelf in Sheffield University's microbiology laboratory. The liquid looks cloudy and uninteresting. Yet, if one group of scientists is correct, the phial contains the first samples of extraterrestrial life isolated by researchers.
Inside the bottle are samples left over from one of the strangest incidents in recent meteorological history. On July 25, 2001, blood-red rain fell over Kerala. And these rain bursts continued for two months. All along the coast it rained crimson, turning clothes pink, burning leaves and falling as scarlet sheets at some points.
Investigations suggested the rain was red because winds had swept up dust from Arabia and dumped it on Kerala. But Godfrey Louis, a physicist at Mahatma Gandhi University in Kottayam, after gathering samples, concluded this was nonsense.
Louis said the rain was made up of bacteria-like material that had been swept to Earth from a passing comet. In short, it rained aliens over India during the summer of 2001.
Not everyone is convinced, of course. Most researchers think it is highly dubious. But a few researchers believe Louis may be on to something and are following up his work. Milton Wainwright, a microbiologist at Sheffield, is now testing the samples. "It is too early to say what's in the phial," he said. "But it is certainly not dust. Nor is any DNA there, but then alien bacteria wouldn't necessarily contain DNA."
Critical to Louis's theory is the length of time the rain fell. Two months is too long for it to have been wind-borne dust, he said. In addition, one analysis showed the particles were 50 per cent carbon, 45 per cent oxygen with traces of sodium and iron: consistent with biological material.
Louis also discovered that hours before the first red rain fell, there was a loud sonic boom that shook houses. Only an incoming meteorite could have triggered it, he claimed.
First Published: Mar 07, 2006 12:31 IST