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SARS from Space

Two British microbiologists say SARS may have come from space, riding on a comet. Microbiologist Dr. Milton Wainwright says, "Several aspects of the SARS outbreak appear to fit this general scheme."

Debris from a comet, including the SARS virus, could have arrived in the stratosphere. It would have reached the Himalayas, whose high peaks are on the edge of the stratosphere, where particles would then descend to Earth. Then the Earth's rotation and prevailing winds could have blown the virus into China. A recent study of the atmosphere 25 miles into space shows that about a ton of biological material arrives from space every day.

Wainwright says the evidence that SARS came from space is the unique nature of the virus, the fact it was first detected in China, the low rates of infection except through close contact, and the failure to contain the epidemic.

Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe says, "We found huge amounts of bacteria and possibly viruses (in space)." He thinks there should be global monitoring of the upper atmosphere to detect new viruses. He says, "If it is in the upper atmosphere, it is only a matter of time before it reaches the ground. The pattern of spread suggests this could also occur over the Swiss Alps, but the way the Earth turns means that regions to the east of the Alps, such as Russia, will tend to be infected. We should keep a watch on new cases of SARS. If they are not connected with known cases, then there?s a real possibility that it has come from space."

SARS from space? That's just as crazy as?Nazis with flying saucers?

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