We are Stardust

Last week I introduced my readers to the concept of Panspermia, the Origin of Life Biology hypothesis that the building blocks of life exist throughout the Universe.  This could be in the form of bacteria or in aminos which make up DNA.  Some scientists even postulate that larger, complex lifeforms like humans could be seeded around the Universe.

Is this how life formed on Earth?  Let's suppose, for argument's sake, that it was.  How would it have arrived here?  A few possibilities that have been batted around are:

  • Naturally
  • Via clouds of cosmic dust or attached to meteors
  • Aboard Alien Spaceships

Abiogenesis via Hydrothermal Vents

In the 1970's, scientists discovered life in the deepest, darkest parts of the ocean where it had previously been thought to be impossible to survive.  These depths are so far beneath the surface of the ocean that no sunlight penetrates.  There, it was observed that microorganisms were able to live near volcanic vents in the floor of the ocean.  These hydrothermal vents heat underground water which then bubbles out into the ocean.  Most lifeforms, including humans, would be injured or even killed by coming into contact with this super-heated water.  But some lifeforms could not only withstand being in this harsh environment, they thrived in it. 

Abiogenesis via Hydrothermal Vents
Abiogenesis via Hydrothermal Vents

The lifeforms that were found near these volcanic vents are thought to have formed through abiogenesis.  This is the widely accepted process where non-living entities gradually transform into living entities over long periods of time.  Eventually, these simple lifeforms will then evolve into more complex lifeforms, over millions of years.

It is possible that this is how life on Earth was initially created.  If so, it is possible that these conditions exist elsewhere in the Universe.  Not only is this possible but it is highly likely.  There are up to 19,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 Earth-like planets in the known Universe.  If even a small fraction of these planets are capable of sustaining simple lifeforms, like those near Earth's hydrothermal vents, then there should be some type of life on billions of planets.

We are Stardust

The Cosmic Dust concept of Panspermia states that these same building blocks of life exist in clouds of dust and gas which have been observed in space.  It is possible that this dust came into contact with our planet at the same time it was being formed or shortly afterwards.  Some scientist believe this is still going on.  They link the discovery of new viruses like SARS, and HIV to these extra-terrestrial sources.

Similarly, many scientists believe that it is possible for some microorganisms to survive long flights through space, trapped inside meteors or within comets.  Research has been conducted, and is ongoing, to test this at the International Space Station (ISS) and other facilities.  It is possible that life on Earth began after a meteor collided with the planet.

Origin of life biology

If some form of life can exist in the harsh conditions of space, it is possible that it could have been carried here, clinging to the exterior of alien spaceships.  Astronauts at the ISS have found DNA on the outside of the Space Station.  Where did it come from?  If it can exist there, it can exist on the outside of alien spaceships.

An even more likely possibility is that some form of life was carried here inside alien spaceships.  When Europeans first came in contact with Native Americans, they brought with them European diseases.  Perhaps aliens carry alien diseases with them, when they visit.  Perhaps this happened millions or even billions of years ago and this was what seeded Earth with life.

If that is the case, it is possible that aliens have planted more complex lifeforms, like humans, here.  More on that in a future post.

Panspermia vs Abiogenesis

So the question remains, Panspermia vs Abiogenesis, which is it?  Like Forrest Gump says, "Maybe it's both.  Maybe both are happening at the same time."

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Thank you for reading and keep an eye on the sky.