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Did Life on other Planets originate from Earth?
George Dvorsky   Sep 29, 2012   io9.com  

In the opening scene of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, an alien Engineer is seen seeding the Earth with life — an interesting suggestion as to how life emerged on this planet.

It would now appear, however, that the film got this backwards: A newly discovered gravitational process called “weak transfer” indicates that the Earth was once capable of sending slow-moving, microbe-carrying rocks out of the solar system. As a result, astrobiologists are now wondering if our planet has spawned life elsewhere.

Escape velocity

Proponents of the panspermia hypothesis have spent most of their time trying to understand how an incoming object may have given rise to life on Earth. The basic idea is that a microbe-laden meteorite landed here billions of years ago, resulting in a kind of extraterrestrial genesis.

A fundamental problem with this theory, however, is how such a meteorite could make the journey from a neighboring solar system. According to the lithopanspermia theory, microorganisms may have been ejected into space after a planet suffered a cataclysmic impact with an asteroid, or by virtue of a powerful volcanic eruption. Most scientists don’t contest this possibility — but what the pre-existing models have shown is that it is excruciatingly rare for microbe-laden ejecta to escape the gravity well of a solar system.

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George P. Dvorsky serves as Chair of the IEET Board of Directors and also heads our Rights of Non-Human Persons program. He is a Canadian futurist, science writer, and bioethicist. He is a contributing editor at io9 — where he writes about science, culture, and futurism — and producer of the Sentient Developments blog and podcast. He served for two terms at Humanity+ (formerly the World Transhumanist Association). George produces Sentient Developments blog and podcast.



COMMENTS

“According to the lithopanspermia theory, microorganisms may have been ejected into space after a planet suffered a cataclysmic impact with an asteroid, or by virtue of a powerful volcanic eruption. Most scientists don’t contest this possibility — but what the pre-existing models have shown is that it is excruciatingly rare for microbe-laden ejecta to escape the gravity well of a solar system.”


Also, such a theory doesn’t go into how the microorganisms developed in the first place—all it does is attempt to transfer the origins of life off Earth so we don’t have to concern ourselves with how life began on Earth.

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