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Lyle Zapato

Panspermia In the News

Lyle Zapato | 2006-01-07.8900 LMT | Kelviniana | Nature

A paper to be published on red, cell-like particles that rained over India in 2001 has rekindled interest in panspermia -- the hypothesis that life on earth was seeded from space. The paper's researchers also wrote two unpublished papers on the subject in 2003 that made stronger panspermian claims (#1 & #2).

I'm repeating this story and links swiped from Slashdot only so I can add this quote from Lord Kelvin giving the reasoning behind the concept:

Lord Kelvin

Every year thousands, probably millions, of fragments of solid matter fall upon the Earth—whence came these fragments? What is the previous history of any one of them? Was it created in the beginning of time an amorphous mass? This idea is so unacceptable that, tacitly or explicitly, all men reject it. It is often assumed that all, and it is certain that some, meteoric stones are fragments which had been broken off from greater masses and launched free into space. It is as sure that collisions must occur between great masses moving through space as it is that ships, steered without intelligence directed to prevent collision, could not cross and recross the Atlantic for thousands of years with immunity from collisions. When two great masses come into collision in space it is certain that a large part of each is melted; but it seems also quite certain that in many cases a large quantity of debris must be shot forth in all directions, much of which may have experienced no greater violence than individual pieces of rock experience in a land-slip or in blasting by gunpowder. Should the time when this earth comes into collision with another body, comparable in dimensions to itself, be when it is still clothed as at present with vegetation, many great and small fragments carrying seed and living plants and animals would undoubtedly be scattered through space. Hence and because we all confidently believe that there are at present, and have been from time immemorial, many worlds of life besides our own, we must regard it as probable in the highest degree that there are countless seed-bearing meteoric stones moving about through space. If at the present instant no life existed upon this earth, one such stone falling upon it might, by what we blindly call natural causes, lead to its becoming covered with vegetation. I am fully conscious of the many scientific objections which may be urged against this hypothesis; but I believe them to be all answerable. I have already taxed your patience too severely to allow me to think of discussing any of them on the present occasion. The hypothesis that life originated on this earth through moss-grown fragments from the ruins of another world may seem wild and visionary; all I maintain is that it is not unscientific.

Lord Kelvin, August 1871.

End of post.