Monday, December 3, 2012

Panspermia: It Just Sounds Dirty


What is Panspermia?


Perhaps the dirtiest sounding word we here at the Commonwealth of Obscurea (CO) have ever heard a scientist use is "Panspermia."  It sounds like some kind of Roman orgy, possibly involving a goat.  What is is really?

So What's the Answer:

Panspermia is the idea that life, once it gets started somewhere in the Universe, may be able to spread from planet to planet by hitching rides on meteorites, comets etc.

Imagine this, planet X evolves life.  Things are going well but, as always, a giant meteorite strikes the planet,  included in the material shot up into space is several tons of microbes in rocks and soil.  They cruise the solar system for a few thousand years until they crash into Planet Y where life has not evolved.  The terrain is favorable and soon the new planet is crawling with the alien grandchildren of the creepies who flew in from Planet X.

The argument goes that these little, aliens may make the jump not just from planet to planet but may even cross interstellar space.

This seems far fetched until you consider the number of meteor strikes that happen in the life a planet (Look at the surface of the moon; lots of meteors.)  and the amount of time the system has to work.  If the average sun has 8 planets (like Sol) and there are 200 billion stars in the Milky Way and 200 billion Galaxies, there are  200 billion X 200 billion X 8 planets.  In a Universe that 13 billion years old, one in a million happens all the time.

What is Panspermia?
Panspermia:  It's not just for Romans.

Pansperia has not been proven but organic molecules have been found in space and, possibly, in meteorites.  As for Roman Orgies?  Try Caligula.  It's dirtier in concept than in practice but Woof! 

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