(The "SARS From Space Theory", reposted by direction of the powers that be into this node...)

In a rather counter-intuitive theory, Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe of the Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology has argued in a letter to the British medical journal The Lancet that the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus originated from space.

As evidence for the plausibility of his theory, he points to an experiment he participated in, in which collection bags were launched into the stratosphere, 41 kilometers above India, and were found to contain microorganisms which he was unable to culture on terra firma.

Dr. Wickramasinghe considers these organisms "highly evolved", and postulates that historical events such as the plague of Athens in the fifth century BC and the influenza epidemic of 1917 may also have originated from space-faring microorganisms.

Professor Wickramasinge explains that this idea is a logical extension of the "panspermia theory" which postulates that the evolution of life began elsewhere in the cosmos, and expanded to other planets via comets.

Other researchers point to the similarity of the SARS coronavirus to other viruses of mundanely Earthly origin, generally finding the theory "farfetched".

Sources: cnn.com, wired.com, theage.com.au, news.bbc.co.uk, globeandmail.com