SETI bioastro: Against Consensus: Chandra Wickramasinghe, Fred Hoyle and the rise of NEO-Catast

From: LARRY KLAES (ljk4_at_msn.com)
Date: Wed Jul 12 2006 - 07:19:43 PDT

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    Cosmic Dust and Panspermia: Progress towards unravelling our cosmic ancestry

    Conference at Cardiff University, Cardiff UK from 5-8 September 2006

    http://www.astrobiology.cf.ac.uk/conference.html

    Against Consensus: Chandra Wickramasinghe, Fred Hoyle and the rise of
    NEO-Catastrophism

    Benny Peiser, Liverpool John Moores University, Faculty of Science,
    Liverpool L3
    2ET

    For most of the 19th and 20th centuries, the theories of geological
    gradualism
    and natural selection were universally regarded as the sole acceptable
    physical
    explanations for the world's large-scale mass extinction events. Any
    researcher
    who dared to question this scientific consensus was either ignored or
    scorned.

    During the last few decades, it has become manifest that a number of mass
    extinctions were almost certainly triggered by global natural disasters
    rather
    than the gradual processes of natural selection. Since the 1970s, Chandra
    Wickramasinghe and Fred Hoyle were part of a small group of British
    astronomers
    who advanced a dissenting view of evolution in which asteroidal and cometary
    impacts played the crucial role in catastrophic mass extinctions.

    In this paper, I review their contribution to the rise and final acceptance
    of
    NEO-catastrophism. At the same time, I ponder the role of consensus as well
    as
    the role of the dissident researcher in the workings and politics of modern
    science.

    FULL CONFERENCE INFORMATION at
    http://www.astrobiology.cf.ac.uk/conference.html


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