Have we found extraterrestrial life?
A few notable British scientists believe so. A balloon sent 27 kilometers into the stratosphere made its way back to earth holding small biological organisms believed to have originated from space. The samples were found to be covered in cosmic dust which further supports the idea that the organisms descended from the universe. The scientists conducting the study believe the organisms contain DNA, supporting the notion that life on earth may itself have extraterrestrial origins. In other words, life could very well have pre-cellular origins in space, a theory also known as panspermia.
The theory has received criticism from scientists and microbiologists who assert that the idea that life on earth has extraterrestrial origins has little evidence. Rather, it's a theoretical playground for its minority of designers to refute traditional religious and philosophical beliefs. Professor Milton Wainwright and his team are "95% convinced" that the microscopic aquatic algae found on the balloon are from life forms in the universe. But he also told the Independent that absolute certainty is hard to achieve in science. It's hard to believe that this finding is indeed true, considering the DNA analysis is yet to be completed, and the experiment is being published in the Journal of Cosmology, a journal known for its bad reputation on scientific reporting (just take a gander at their web site).
Although cometary panspermia may seem like an appealing evolution-based theory, it fails to address the issue of survival. Critics don't believe microbial life can endure the harsh conditions found in space, the the entrance to Earth's atmosphere, or the impact of the Earth's surface. In this particular experiment, the biological entities captured in the stratosphere could have been carried high into the atmosphere from Earth ... and not from space.
One of life's most perplexing questions, the origin of life on Earth, will continue to spark controversial theories, experiments, and hypotheses. Until we know the answer, variations of life origin theories will continue to plague the human mind.