Panspermia #3 - Peter Occhiogrosso
Even the format of "Intelligent Life in the Universe" was unprecedented, alternating paragraphs written by Shklovsky and Sagan, kind of like the alternating songs of John Lennon and Yoko Ono on “Double Fantasy.” For his part, Shklovsky cited a series of articles written by his fellow Russian Matest M. Agrest beginning in 1959, exploring the concept now known as “paleocontact”—the possibility of extraterrestrial beings interacting with the people of Earth.
Agrest conjectured that a number of events described in the Bible may be based on the visit of extraterrestrials, citing the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, which appeared to be a description of a “nuclear explosion.”
Agrest had also claimed that the megalithic stone terracing at Baalbek, in Lebanon, had been used as a launch site for spaceships. One of Agrest’s articles, published in 1961 in Moscow as "Космонавты древности," literally, “Cosmonauts of Antiquity,” was translated in some places as “Ancient Astronauts.” He is now credited with having been the first to write about what are known as the Ancient Astronaut theories.
But not until Shklovsky and Sagan’s book was published in English did the world take notice of the theory of paleocontact. Among those who were paying attention was the Swiss author Erich Von Däniken, whose 1968 book "Chariots of the Gods?" was profoundly influenced by the possibility of extraterrestrial visitation discussed in Intelligent Life in the Universe. Although the Shklovsky-Sagan book was hardly a best seller, Von Däniken’s "Chariots" has sold tens of millions of copies to date. Further, it’s safe to say that Shklovsky and Sagan’s book was directly responsible for all those episodes of “Ancient Aliens” constantly playing on the History Channel. But are they right? Is there any evidence of panspermia and paleocontact?
According to Hoyle—no, not Edmond Hoyle, the 18th-century writer best known for his works on the rules of card games, but our good friend Sir Fred Hoyle, who, you may recall, invented and later disowned the term “Big Bang”—there is such evidence. As we will see in the coming days.
I. S. Shklovsky (L) and Carl Sagan, 1966