So since the Higgs Boson thing, I haven’t really written much about science. I thought I’d do a quick one on panspermia to amend this little problem.
Of all the theories on how life on Earth originated (or to be more specific, how it accelerate at such a rate), panspermia stands out as the most likely (in my opinion).
We all know life evolved over billions of years (it’s estimated that the earliest forms of life existed on earth around 3 billion years ago, if I remember my astronomy course correctly), but there was a period of time where evolution was sped up beyond predicted levels, allowing multicellular lifeforms to evolve in a much shorter time than they would normally have needed. I feel lazy tonight so I’m going to do most of this off the top of my head. If there’s anything I’m a bit hazy on, I’ll say so. I’m pretty solid on my facts of panspermia itself, I’ve just forgotten the exact timing and order of bacterial evolution on Earth. Feel free to research this yourself.
Anyhow, let’s not get into an argument over whether evolution is real or not. That would be stupid and unscientific, both of which automatically disqualify your opinion. I’m not here to say god doesn’t exist, you’re welcome to believe that he/she/it designed evolution, but the fact that evolution exists is a scientific truth on par with saying that atoms exist.
Panspermia is the hypothesis and process by which life is spread throughout the universe. The scientifc theory (let’s get this straight too, there’s a difference between a theory and a scientific theory) states that the universe is full of life (mostly at a very small and unevolved stage, such as bacteria) and these simple life forms travel around on comets, meteors and asteroids. When space rocks collide with a planet, they “seed” the planet with these simple life forms (by which I mean bacteria, carbon and amino acids). In layman’s terms, this means that life on Earth came from outer space, and very likely from Mars (because 7.5% of Mars rocks land on Earth).
Here’s my own little twist to the theory (although I doubt nobody else has thought of it before). The universe, and thus life, was creating in the Big Bang. Originally, the Big Bang created hydrogen, helium and trace amounts of lithium. All the other elements on the periodic table were created in the furnaces of stars and released through supernovae, which scattered these elements throughout the universe (loosely quoted from Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson). As we know, stars are formed in nebulae, which are huge regions of dust and ionised gases, often containing these elements that were spread across the universe by other stars (which were formed by the original three elements of the Big Bang). The star’s gravity then attracts more space dust which orbit around it, eventually clumping together and forming planets. It thus follows that Earth was created in the same way, and either our nebula contained carbon (which is not unreasonable as it is one of the most common elements in the universe), or during its formation, Earth was bombarded by space rocks containing carbon. This is an absolutely necessary process as we (all life as we know it) are a carbon based life form. By that logic, it’s not unreasonable to assume that Earth was formed with existing life forms already on the planet, though sparse.
Predictions for the time that these simple life forms would take to evolve into multi-cellular life forms, given their density and state of evolution, don’t coincide with actual figures. Something boosted them along the way. Considering 7.5% of rocks from Mars reach Earth, it’s very likely that Earth was further fertilised through panspermia, boosting the bacteria numbers and speeding up the process of evolution.
So if you’ve ever wondered where life on Earth came from, the answer is space. Of course, everything was once in space (and still is) so I guess that answer should be obvious. What I mean, though, is the majority of the basic, microscopic life forms that evolved into all life around us came flying here on meteors, so if your heritage was traced back far enough, you could mostly likely claim that you’re a Martian.
Those who want to hear some evidence may look at this list I’ve quickly compiled:
- In 1984, scientists discovered the meteor Allan Hills 84001. This meteorite had been blasted off the surface of Mars around 15 million years ago, and was found in Antarctica. In 1996 ALH84001 was shown to contain structures that may be the remains of terrestrial nanobacteria. Several tests for organic material have been performed on ALH84001 and amino acids and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons have been found. (http://www.panspermia-theory.com/)
- Bacteria can survive the harsh environment of space, and indeed, it is a well-documented fact that organic compounds are commonly found in the tails of comets. Carbon, early bacterial ingredients and amino acids are frequently found protected in meteors.
- Mars is a more protected planet than Earth, and may have developed an inhabitable atmosphere long before Earth did (it was less hot, is more protected from bombardment, and had oxygen before Earth).
- Recently, scientists discovered life in a sample of rock taken from Mars a few years back. Originally, they hadn’t understood what they were looking at. Unfortunately, they destroyed this life during experiments, as they had no idea what they were doing. This was in the news recently.
- Basic life ingredients like carbon (the best building block for complex life, followed by silicone) are abundant throughout the universe. They have also been proven to be able to survive in meteors, and are always shooting around through space at high speeds. Occasionally they land on a planet, and have been proven to be able to survive that impact (prove by many examples on Earth). It follows that life in space is frequently transported around to different planets.
The chilling, mind boggling and awesome extrapolation from this information is that perhaps humans once had a powerful civilisation on Mars, which eventually destroyed the planet through our well-known penchant for unsustainable living. As the planet could no longer support life (remembering that there is evidence of old river beds on Mars), we died out there as a species, leaving traces of our existence in bacteria and amino acid forms. Panspermia then brought us from Mars to Earth, where we reset the cycle and evolved all over again. If so, it’s ironic that we’re committing the same mistake again and destroying Earth. I can’t help but think, in the near future, we’ll drain this planet too, die out again, and then our remnants will be carried off as Earth, stripped of its protective atmosphere, is blasted to pieces, and perhaps we will re-evolve again on some other planet.
Well, if you’ve ever needed something to keep you up at night thinking, there it is. Man, science is awesome.