This is the story of the author's unique scientific journey with one of the most remarkable men of 20th century science. The journey begins in Sri Lanka, the author's native country, with his childhood acquaintance with Fred Hoyle's writings. The action then moves to Cambridge, where the famous Hoyle-Wickramasinghe collaborations begin. A research programme which was started in 1962 on the carbonaceous nature of interstellar dust leads, over the next two decades, to developments that are continued in both Cambridge and Cardiff. These developments prompt Hoyle and the author to postulate the organic theory of cosmic dust (which is now generally accepted), and then to challenge one of the most cherished paradigms of contemporary science – the theory that life originated on Earth in a warm primordial soup. This is an intriguing book that traces the progress of a collaboration spanning 40 years, through a sequence of personal reflections, anecdotes and reminiscences. Ideas that were thought heretical 25 years ago are now quietly slipping into the domain of orthodox science.
Origins: Prelude to the Journey Cambridge and a First Meeting A Hike in the Lake District Betwixt the Stars The Route to Carbon Dust A Theory Takes Shape The Institute of Astronomy: The Vintage Years Winds of Change The Cardiff Era The Search for Cosmic Life Life from Comets and Pathogens from Space First Signs of Life Bacterial Dust Predictions Verified Life on the Planets Evolution from Space Theories of Trial A Fossil Controversy Comet Halley and Its Legacy Alternative Cosmologies The Last Decade
"This is the story of the remarkable 40-year friendship and scientific collaboration between the British astrophysicist Fred Hoyle and the Sri Lankan mathematician and astronomer Chandra Wickramasinghe. The work they are most famous for is their painstaking building of the case for a cosmic origin of life. Wickramasinghe and Hoyle's picture of a galaxy teeming with life is a stunning one. The scientific community has come a long way towards Hoyle and Wickramasinghe's position, wholeheartedly embracing the idea of planetary panspermia."
- New Scientist