Press Release: Astrobiology comes to Buckingham

13 October 2011

Did life come from outer space? This is the question that has been exercising a high profile group of astrobiologists who have been given honorary appointments at the University. Together they will generate cutting edge science that may enable us to answer the age-old question ‘where did we come from?’

Originally set up in 2000 as the Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology, this is the first UK research centre of its kind. It moved to Buckingham this August and was renamed the Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology (BCAB). As a university that is independent of the state, Buckingham is a natural home for such independent thinkers.

The group is headed by Professor Chandra Wickramashinge, Professor at Cardiff University, and includes Professor Gil Levin, a pioneer of Mars exploration, and Professor Bill Napier, a leading comet scientist and science fiction writer. Professor Wickramashinge worked alongside Fred Hoyle for many years and is known for his pioneering research into the origins of life on earth.

Backed by a growing amount of evidence, their research took ideas from both biology and astronomy to suggest that life began very close to the time of the big bang and that the first terrestrial life on earth came from comets. The BCAB hope to develop these theories further by investigating how life-bearing material can travel in space and how it copes with extreme environments. They will also study the material collected in the stratosphere in the hope to find biological matter that has derived from space.

Jon Arch, Dean of Science and Medicine at Buckingham, says: “I am delighted that Professor Wickramasinghe and his team have joined the University of Buckingham, which welcomes independent and original thinking. The mathematicians of BCAB will find common ground with our Department of Applied Computing, which has recently strengthened its expertise in mathematics, whilst the biologists share their discipline with our researchers in the Clore Laboratory. ”

For further details about this press release please contact the University of Buckingham Publicity Office on: +44 (0)1280 820213 or email: publicity@buckingham.ac.uk.