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J'y lis en page 76, ce début de l'article:

L'annonce a fait son petit effet. En février 2015, Milton Wainwright, chercheur à l'univeryité de Sheffield (Royaume-Uni), affirma voir trouvé dans un échantillon de poussières ramené de la stratosphère terrestre une bille en titane du diamètre d'un cheveu humain contenant une substance biologique gluante, proche d'un champignon. On n'en saura guère plus, sinon que le chercheur y voit la preuve de l'envoi par une civilisation extraterrestre d'une colonie de micro-organismes, afin d'ensemencer notre planète!

Délire d'un hurluberlu? Pas vraiment! Le biologiste s'inscrit dans une longue lignée de scientifiques qui défendent la théorie de la panspermie. Popularisée n 1908 par le chimiste suédois Svante Arrhenius, elle résoud la grande question de la vie sur Terre en postulant qu'elle vient de l'espace. Nous serions, en quelque sorte, des aliens qui s'ignorent.

Certains défenseurs de cette théorie vont plus loin: ces micro-organismes auraient été envoyés à dessin, par une intelligence extraterrestre (panspermie directe, comme le suggère Milton Wainnwright).

Ci-dessous: sur le eb, on trouvera un peu partout des photos des choses trouvées par ce scientifique, y compris une photo de la "sphère de titane":

https://twitter.com/M_Wainwright_UK/status/652867408160534530/photo/1

Science populaire:

Bien. Avant d'en vnir au fait, autant régler quelques petites questions annexes.

En principe, un magazine de science populaire devrait "aller au bout des choses", ici, dire aux lecteurs non pas si Milton Wainwright est ou n'est pas un "hurluberlu" en fonction de ce que l'idée de la panspermie active est ou n'est pas sotte, mais en fonction de ce que ce qui est annoncé ici comme ayant fait "son petit effet" est avéré, frauduleux, expiqué comme trivial ou confirmé.

Mais nnon, la réponse n'est pas dans l'article, qui se contente de jeter un (juste) discrédit sur une autre annonce, similaire à celle des "pluies rouges du Kerala" dont j'avais parlé en 2007. Sur ce que Milton Wainwright aurait trouvé en 2015, aucune véritable information, "on n'en saura pas plus", dit l'article. Et bien il va s'agir pour moi d'en savoir plus, justement.

L'article de Science et Vie s'inscrit dans un numéro spécial dont le thème est: "Extraterrestres: pourquoi la science y croit". Que "la science" émette un croyance me semble assez curieux, mois qui pensait naïvement que "la science" est une abstraction, un idéal, qui ne "dit" rien, et que les scientifiques, qui eux ont à dire, ne sont pas des "croyants" mais des gens qui émettent des hypothèses, font des exppériences pour les tester et en déduisent une certaine confirmation ou infirmation de telle ou telle théorie. Qund on appelle "croyants" les gens comme moi, les ufologues, qui se penchent sur les rapports observations d'OVNIS pour tenter de les expliquer, il s'agit clairement d'un dénigrement. Passons.

L'article est dans un "numéro spécial" qui regroupe 16 articles sur le thème des extraterrestres. Une sorte de panorama abordant la recherche d'exoplanètes, SETI, le paradixe de Fermi, etc. Et ui, également la question des OVNIS. En 2006, des collègues ufologues voulaient m'expliquer que Science et Vie serait une sorte d'horrible torchon "sceptique" pour ce qui concerne les OVNIS; j'avais répliqué avec des faits qui montrent que ce n'est pas le cas. Il y a dans ce numéro spécial pas moins de 6 des 16 articles portant sur les OVNIS. Certains parlent de "mythe", expliquent les méprises que l'on rencontre si souvent, mais l'un d'eux porte sur "les 12 cas inexpliqués" - ces articles sont tous assez médicore dans mon opinion. Toujours est-il que nous avons bien encore une fois le magazine juxtaposant l'exobiologie, l'astrophysique, SETI, la panspermie... et la question des OVNIS, et mêlant des partis-pris aussi bien "favorables" que "défavorables" à l'idée que certains rapports d'observations d'OVNIS indiqueraient que nous avons des visiteurs extraterrestres.

Quelques concepts:

Machines de Von Neumann:

John Von Neumann, mathématicien et physicien américano-hongrois, a été à l'origine, en 1946, d'un modèle théorique de machine universelle, autoréplicative, c'est-à-dire capable de fabriquer de manière autonome une ou plusieurs copies d'elle-même en utilisant des matières premières prises dand son environnement. Le concept a été également repris par le physicien Freeman Dyson (celui des sphères de Dyson)

Von Neumann la décrivait comme comprenant:

En somme, un concept de machines qui évoque une sorte de concept initial de l'ordinateur, mais avec une chose de plus: la capacité de fabriquer des copies d'elle-même. Et cela évoque en fait plutôt la vie, que l'ordinateur.

Of course, the Von Neuman Probe would be very small. Much later, as the word "nonotechnology" came up, everyone sensed that Von Newmann machine would be based on naontechnology, and could be feasible sooner or later. Maybe not in 10 years, not in a 100 years, but how could we not be capable of designing them in 10.000 yearrs, a million years? And, unless we destroy ourselves completely, we do have billions of years at hand to design them...

Très vite, une hypothèse hardie a été élaborée par Dyson et d'autres: celle que life on earth goes back to a special form of alien "von Neumann probe" or "von Neumann Assembler", a probe consisting of Von Neumann machines able to survive inerplanetary and even interstellar travel via comets, planetoids etc. The supposed purpose of such an alien probe was the terraforming of planets and moons able to support this kind of life for later colonization or exploitation.

I have another suggestion; which first needs some intruction to the Fermi Paradox.

The Fermi Paradox:

In the Summer of 1950, Italian physicist Enrico Fermi and colleagues including William Teller, Edwar were walking to get to lunch, having mundane conversations. One topic was... the mysterious disappearance of trash cans in New York City!

There was a cartoon on May 20, 1950, in The New Yorker, that humorously suggested a solution to this mystery: aleins from flying saucers were stealing the trashcans. So they started to discuss the recent flying saucers sighting reports. They discussed whether flying saucers could exceed or not the speed of light. Fermi suggested a 1 in 10 probabbility that superluminal travel would be achieved in 1960...

The group sat down for lunch, talked of mundane topics, when suddenly, Fermi asked: "Where is everybody?"

His colleagues being just as smart as Fermi was, immediately understood what he meant. These scientists knew that we cannot be alone in the Universe. There is no reason for that, the laws of physics are the same everywhere, there are more than 250.000.000 stars in our own galaxy and there are likely even more galaxies in the Universe than stars in our own galaxy. So "they", the aliens, must be out there. But this is not all. The universe is a bit more than 14 billion years old, the earth is only about 4.5 billion years old. So we cannot be the first. "They" must be a lot of alien civilization, many must have started billions years ago. So they must have mastered space travel one way or another. Even slower than the speed of light, they should have spread everywhere in the galaxy. But we don't get to see them everywhere. How is is this possible?

This is sound, logical, simple, clear. "where is everybody?".

Of course, not everyone undersstood correctly. One the one hand, "skeptics" claimed: "because they should be here and because they are not here, they do not exist." This is no solution to the paradox, this is not what Fermi told us. But it often serves the "skeptic's cause" against SETI efforts of the idea of an intelligent alien origin of some UFO reports.

Most ufologists did not understood correctly either. "But", they claim, "they are here!" They think Fermi was wrong, because of the flying saucers or UFOs. Now, here is why this is no solution aither.

What the Fermi paradox means is that aliens should not just be seen occasionally here. They should have settled on the Earth before mankind even started. In fact, many alien civilizations should inhabit any place in the galaxy since billioin of years. Your neighbors should include aliens from many origins. Just a few flying saucers here and there just won't do. "Everybody" should be "everywhere" already.

Then, many people, scientists, authors of popular science articles, offered dozens of what they beliefved to be "solutions" to the Fermi paradox. But not a signle one hold to scrutiny.

I will not list all of them, just a number of then is enough to show what is wrong with these "solutions":

As one can guess, most of the solution claiming that aliens are not here because of this or that reason are wrong solutions because it cannot be that these reasons stopped all alien civilizations.

Let me just ignore a number of "solutions" that were offered in the past and and now obsolete in view to recent discoveries:

A solution to the Fermi paradox:

This is my solution.

If I wanted to be as brief as Fermi was, I would just say: "The first ones had to take control over the entire galaxy before others do."

We are not the first, this is too unlikely. But there had to be "the first" somewhere. The earliest alien civilization. It may be 8, 9 or even 10 billion years old.

A fisrt alien civilization - meaning, one thet did not dieappear fro one or the other reasons cited above, meaning "the first successful one", must have been thinking about their situation. They must have understoof that they may not be the only ones, they must have understoof that the other alien civilizations could be dangerous to them. So they must have conceived a plan to take control on the entire galaxy before some other, malevolent, civilization does. They must have acted preemptively, they must have found a way to "invade" all the galaxy. And fast, and at "low-cost".

The way I would have done it goes like this: I would have design small, cheap, autoreplicative machines, that travel across the stars by any possible natural means such as interstellar bodies, even cosmic dust. Sending "rockets" over the entire galaxy is not fast and is not cheap, someone else would have taken control of the galaxy long before this would be achieved. I would design Von Neumann machines. I would build them almost like life itself is built upon. Life is something like a Von Neumann machine, it is autoreplicative, it can survive space travel, it can be dormant for ages and wake up when conditions permit. It has an additional benefit I am interested in, too: it goes unnoticed, because it is tiny but also because it looks like the natural phenomenon of life.

In my Von Neumann machine; which, remember, has "memory", "software", a "Central Processing Unit", I would include some program that would go like this:

So, what do we get?

"They" took over the entire galaxy long ago.

Maybe we are "them".

If, anywhere, anyone, including their own Von Neuman machines, would turn against "them", they are already here, and they can act one way or the other to stop in due time any harmful action against them.

But what about flying saucers? We do not have thousands of aliens from different civilizations everywhere around us, so "my" plan seems to have worked, but sometimes, it seems, we do have alien visitors.

Well, nithing is entirely perfect. Maybe some of the other alien civilisations are trying to get loose. But, how coincidental: they seem unable to "invade" us entirely.

My plan looks a bit like the "zoo" theory, one of the lesser-invalid "solutions" to the Fermi paradox. In the "zoo" theory, aliens keep us in some kind of "protected area" for some reason, maybe the same sort of reason we do have zoos ourselves. In the "zoo theory", the few "flying saucer" we get to see are like when kids throy peanuts to the animals at the zoo: the wardens forbid this but sometimes it just happens anyway because nothing in safety matters could be totally perfect.

But the usual "zoo" theory is not my favorite "solution", because it does not appear all that "necessary". My solution is a necessity. The first alien civilization would just be a civilization of fools if they did not take care of the probalem that "others" would invade then sooner or later. Sure, there may be "benevolent" alien civilizations, but would all of them be benevolent to any other lifeforms? I doubt it.

Now, before some readers call me names, let me specify some other things. I do not really believe in my own theory! I feel that the situation is likely more unfathomable. I am almost sure that we, humans, cannot really grasp alien minds. But at least, I can propose at least one possible and also, logical solution to the Fermi paradox. I propose a solution within the imitation of my own thinking possibilities and the "real" solution maybe way beyond my thinking capacities. But again, I do propose a solution: "The first ones had to take control over the entire galaxy before others do."

Now, back to the "Science et Vie" article.

Milton Wainwright's find:

No, my reader may understand that the "discovery" announced in the article is interesting to me.

Apparently, Milton Wainwright found in a sample of dust brought back from the Earth stratosphere a small titanium ball of the diameter of a human hair with some biological stuff in it.

It just looks like a Von Neumann machine!

On his own website, Wainwright says:

My involvement in investigating the panspermia theory began in 2001 by collaborating with Chandra Wickramasinghe on many projects, and later in analyzing the results from the Indian balloon mission (2002), in which a large balloon was sent up into more than 40 km in the stratosphere, collecting microbes using the cryosampler loaded on it. Later in 2013, I was fortunate to have met Chris Rose and Alex Baker who helped me in designing our own sampling balloons to sample the stratosphere looking analyze our findings for microbes, we would then later examine the findings using SEM, EDAX and other techniques. We found many unusual biological entities with morphological and sometimes chemical features that are unfamiliar in terrestrial organisms. work is currently still ongoing in trying to launch more stratospheric balloons and trying to come up with new methods to further

We eventually published our work in peer reviewed journals and were initially met with the usual criticism that it must be all based on contamination. However, since then the presence of bacteria and fungi in the stratosphere has been confirmed by groups (using different sampling and isolation procedures) from NASA, Japan and India.

The end of this work left me somewhat lost for something to do as far as stratosphere sampling was concerned, although my group did continue to contribute papers on general Astrobiology. The change in fortunes came in the late summer of 2013 when I was lucky enough to team up with two remarkable engineering students, Alex Baker and Chris Rose. These PhD students from the Tribology group of the Engineering Department here in Sheffield University are both expert electron microscopists and were running a company – Sent into Space – sending adverts by weather balloon into the stratosphere.

We got together and designed a simple, but effective means of sampling the stratosphere at heights of around 27km. The result turned out to be amazing and caused a media stir around the world which continues to the present.

The results show that unusual biological entities can be isolated from the stratosphere at these heights and that they are continually incoming to Earth from space, and not as suggested, by others, to be coming up from Earth.

He concludes:

Our conclusions are based on the following evidence:

1) The BEs occur in very low numbers as isolated particles on the carbon sampling stubs which were exposed to the stratosphere. With the exception of a single diatom frustule fragment, known terrestrial organisms commonly found on Earth (e.g. grass seeds and pollen) are however, not sampled from this source. In addition material having the typical morphology and EDX signature of volcanic dust has never been seen on the sampling stubs.

2) The observed stratosphere–derived BEs is unusual and (with the exception of the diatom fragment) cannot be identified, by us, as terrestrial organisms (e.g. marine or terrestrial alga or protozoa).

3) The bimorphs are often associated with impact craters caused by inorganic, space-derived cosmic dust.

4) Some of the BEs themselves also produced impact craters on the carbon sampling stubs, again suggesting that they are incoming to Earth from space.

5) The BEs, and/or the inorganic masses on which they are found, exceed 5 microns, the size limit above which it is generally assumed that particles cannot be transported from the troposphere to the stratosphere. Finally we report evidence for the presence of biological entities comprised of nanoparticles which stain positive for DNA. We conclude that the biological entities we have isolated are continually arriving to Earth from space

More recently, I have re-assessed earlier studies on the samples obtained at 41km and have provided evidence for the existence of biological masses containing DNA, as assessed by DAPI staining. During this work, I again teamed up with the Chandra Wickramasinghe and involve the input of a first–rate PhD student, Tareq Omairi in the work. The scientific community has remained remarkably quiet regarding our findings, despite the fact that the work has received vast media coverage.

On his webiste, four papers are offered for reading:

I also found a science paper in the Journal of Cosmology, Volume 23, Number 5 pp 11117-11125, http://journalofcosmology.com/JOC23/MiltPaper34.pdf

Critics:

Now, at first sight, this all looks somehow credible and nice. As I looked for science papers by other researchers who counter-investigated the claims, I found... nothing!

It appeared as if the argument by Milton Wainwright was true: other scientists silence their extraordinary finding, they do want want to hear about panspermia.

What I found was countless of non-science websites and newspapers websites (slate.fr, La Tribune de Genève) and stupid websites (The Times of India) were talking about these alleged discoveries. But they did just that, talk about it, without any trace of skepticism, without any effort to check if this is valid or not.

Sometimes, web sources are vague or even and inacurate. The Wikipedia EN entry for panspermia says:

"A microscopic ball made of titanium and vanadium was found in Earth's upper atmosphere in early 2015. Milton Wainwright, a UK researcher and astrobiologist at the University of Buckingham claimed in a tabloid that the metal ball "could contain DNA." He speculates that it could be an alien device sent to Earth by extraterrestrials in order to continue seeding the planet with life."

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panspermia)

They give as reference... a web tabloid article, when the orignal sources are actually available. It is just not fair to claim this is all only a tabloid article claim.

I found severe issues. The first is that the Journal of Cosmology - in which the "titanium sphere" discovery was published is not to the standard level I would hope for. No, a "peer-reviewed" journal in shich the reviewers and the authors are the same does not look like a real peer-reviewed journal. The authors are all favorobaly oriented to the idea of panspermia - which may be fine, but the Chief Editor is Chandra Wickramasinghe, who is also one of the co-author of a previous paper about a find of an "alien lifeform" in the stratosphere, which was found later by an independent review scientist to be a common algae!

In fact, Chandra Wickramasinghe made the same kind of mistake several times, as this is told in the Science et Vie article. Wickramasinghe seems to "discover" alien lifeforms a bit too often. He claimed flu and SRAS viruses come from space, found bacteria "from space" in meteorites and the upper atmosphere y bit too often, and most other scientists - but obviously not Milton Wainwright - consider him discredited.

Conclusion sor far:

I explained why I think that minuscule "stuff" from space, actually small "machines" looking more or less exactly like "life seeds", can be expected, rather than a "far-out" idea - why it would be "far-out" I still wonder.

However, the ambiguous report in Science et Vie led me to a rather dubious "discovery". The group of people involved in this research gained no confirmation by other research team, the science journal they publish in is peer-reviewed by "themselves", etc.

Yet, though I am totally skeptical about this discovery so far, I do not think the "titanium sphere" should be forgotten without further ado. I think other researchers should get involved, design their own stratosphere sample collecting experiences.

References:

http://miltonwainwright.com/

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Cette page a été mise à jour le 2 juin 2017.