Chandra Wickramasinghe

Chandra Wickramasinghe (1939-), astrobiologist, developed the theory - based on astronomical observations and calculations - that life originated not on Earth in a 'primordial soup', but in the wider universe.  He completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge as a Commonwealth Scholar, under the supervision of astronomer Fred Hoyle.  He went on to work with Hoyle for forty years. Through the 1960s and 1970s he advanced astronomical evidence for the presence in interstellar dust of the element carbon and complex organic molecules.  By the 1980s, he and Hoyle were arguing that astronomical observations were consistent with the existence in interstellar dust of bacteria, leading to a theory of the 'seeding' of the Earth by comets: 'panspermia'.  Between 1973 and 2000 he was Professor of Applied Mathematics and Astronomy at the University of Cardiff; he later led the university's  Centre for Astrobiology.

  • Birth name Chandra Wickramasinghe
  • Born Colombo, Sri Lanka
  • Occupation University Professor
  • Disciplines Astrobiology, Astronomy
  • Education University of Ceylon, University of Cambridge

Related Audio Clips

The following clips are short extracts from an in-depth interview.
To listen to the full interview visit

Related disciplines