left biblioblography: RED RAIN

Sunday, March 04, 2007


“Red rain is coming down
Red rain
Red rain is pouring down
pouring down all over me

“I am standing up at the water's edge in my dream
I cannot make a single sound as you scream
it can't be that cold, the ground is still warm to touch
this place is so quiet, sensing that storm”

– Peter Gabriel, Red Rain

In 2001, life rained down upon an obscure province in India. Strange life. Life shorn of that double and single helix of DNA and RNA.

It is more common than most think, that strangeness should fall from the sky.

Fish have been known to rain along with other animals, including toads, frogs, or even jellyfish.

It was not blood (though the Forteans have no doubt a few theories of their own): locals in Kerala reported a thunderous clap; “followed by groves of trees shedding shriveled grey "burnt" leaves. Shriveled leaves and the disappearance and sudden formation of wells were also reported around the same time in the area.

The coloration of the rain was due to red particles in suspension in the rainwater, and when it fell, the red rain was at times as strongly colored as blood. It typically fell over small areas, no more than a few square kilometres in size, and was sometimes so localised that normal rain could be falling just a few metres away from red rain. Red rainfalls typically lasted less than 20 minutes.”

How utterly bizarre. Theories abounded, from algae spores to dust from Arabia, even as far-fetched as a meteor striking a large flock of bats (large flocks are common enough in India, enough so that they darken the sunset sky on occasion – but three months of this? So localized?).

Closer inspection yielded some startling evidence. Despite the Wikipedia entry that proclaims that the matter contained was algae/fungus (trentepohlia), the Popular Science article posits:

“Specifically, Louis has isolated strange, thick-walled, red-tinted cell-like structures about 10 microns in size. Stranger still, dozens of his experiments suggest that the particles may lack DNA yet still reproduce plentifully, even in water superheated to nearly 600˚F. (The known upper limit for life in water is about 250˚F.) So how to explain them? Louis speculates that the particles could be extraterrestrial bacteria adapted to the harsh conditions of space and that the microbes hitched a ride on a comet or meteorite that later broke apart in the upper atmosphere and mixed with rain clouds above India. If his theory proves correct, the cells would be the first confirmed evidence of alien life and, as such, could yield tantalizing new clues to the origins of life on Earth.

“Louis and his colleagues dismiss all these theories, pointing to the fact that both algae and fungus possess DNA and that blood cells have thin walls and die quickly when exposed to water and air. More important, they argue, blood cells don’t replicate. “We’ve already got some stunning pictures—transmission electron micrographs—of these cells sliced in the middle,” Wickramasinghe says. “We see them budding, with little daughter cells inside the big cells.

“Louis’s theory holds special appeal for Wickramasinghe. A quarter of a century ago, he co-authored the modern theory of panspermia, which posits that bacteria-riddled space rocks seeded life on Earth. “If it’s true that life was introduced by comets four billion years ago,” the astronomer says, “one would expect that microorganisms are still injected into our environment from time to time. This could be one of those events.”

“The next significant step, explains University of Sheffield microbiologist Milton Wainwright, who is part of another British team now studying Louis’s samples, is to confirm whether the cells truly lack DNA. So far, one preliminary DNA test has come back positive.“Life as we know it must contain DNA, or it’s not life,” he says. “But even if this organism proves to be an anomaly, the absence of DNA wouldn’t necessarily mean it’s extraterrestrial.”

Six years hence, and still so much speculation. It’s a given that it is difficult at best to ascertain an extraterrestrial origin due to contamination on entrance into our atmosphere. Such an item would have to (directly/indirectly) conflict with organized structures we already know are in place.

So, we are back to where we started, full circle. A thunderclap, and three months worth of strange, red rain, containing organisms no one can agree upon.

However, when in Kerala, I’d advise you drink bottled water.

Till the next post, then.

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beepbeepitsme said...

Maybe "manna from heaven" was literally a skyful of frogs. (More likely to be locusts though, as the bible says it is ok to eat locusts. Egypt, of course, suffered from plagues of locusts as did any agricultural society. So, maybe the egyptians munched them up for eating the grain.

"22 even these of them ye may eat: the locust after its kinds, and the bald locust after its kinds, and the cricket after its kinds, and the grasshopper after its kinds." - Leviticus Chapter 11:22.

MANNA : - "Some modern readers believe this may have been an edible cake called Shewbread or Showbread wafer or the sap of a variety of succulent plant found in the Sinai peninsula, which may have had appetite-suppressing effects (plants of the genus Alhagi are sometimes called "manna trees"). [1] Others have hypothesized that it was one of the species of KOSHER LOCUSTS found in the region.

beepbeepitsme said...

Hums to herself -

"It's raining locusts
It's raining locusts

It's raining locusts
It's raining locusts

Krystalline Apostate said...

BBIM - Sung to the tune, "It's raining men", no doubt?
Oh, here's an interesting link:
Most of the plagues are easily explained via a volcanic eruption. Do they even get tornadoes in the ME?

karen said...

So 22 is the recommended serving of locusts or crickets. Is that per day, or lifetime total? Ah, Leviticus, ye left so many unanswered questions!

I was just wondering the other day about tornadoes in the ME. We had 31 that blew through the Atlantic southeast states this week, killing and plundering. It occured to me I've never heard of a tornado outside the US. Maybe we could arrange a trade for a bit of red, red rain.

Krystalline Apostate said...

Hi Karen. Yep, the entire bibble left so many unanswered questions. Stir-fry grasshoppers, anyone? Frog's legs? (they taste like turkey, BTW.)
The ME doesn't get tornadoes, but they get dust storms & siroccos. & yes, some of them can reach hurricane force.

beepbeepitsme said...


I kind of like the naturalistic version of the plagues of Egypt as well.

Some geologists believe the Santorini volcano, 400 miles north of Egypt, erupted in the eastern Mediterranean. Scientists and historians have long speculated that the 10 “plagues” suffered by Egypt might have been linked in a “domino theory” of natural causes.

The Eruption of Thera

Krystalline Apostate said...

BBIM - Hey, thanks, that's a great link!

ted said...

I lived in Singapore as a kid and witnessed this once. We had to go out during a particularly nasty storm during the monsoon. The rain had stopped by the time we did, but when I got out of the car I stepped in a puddle with whitebait in it. Strange indeed...

Krystalline Apostate said...

Ted - that just seems so very odd to me, seeing as I've never experienced it myself. Living things falling from the skies is so...metaphorical on so many levels.

ted said...

It seemed quite odd to me at the time too KA, so I asked our driver where the hell they'd come from and was told that it was reasonably common for it to rain small fish or frogs in Singapore, once or twice a year. It was explained thusly:

The wet season... Storms over the ocean create water spouts which suck the poor devils (only surface dwellers) up into the cloud where they are kept aloft by serious updrafts. When the storm systems make landfall they dump their moisture, and any other sundrie items they may have picked up along the way.

The fish in my puddle weren't living, although he did say that sometimes they survive, but not often...