Came life from space?

Erich Schwarz schwarze.ccomail at starbase1.caltech.edu
Thu Oct 12 23:39:13 EST 1995

Mark Garfinkel wrote:

>         One of the problems with the galactic panspermia hypothesis, aside
> from having no real explanatory power ...

    Unless Sean Eddy's point proves valid: what if, in fact, life requires
a billion years to evolve, while the fossil record says it arose much more

> ... is that it requires spores, for
> example, of bacteria-like organisms to survive for tens of thousands of
> years, since they would traverse interstellar space at only tiny fractions
> of the speed of light. All the while these spores are unshielded from
> energetic stellar radiation, from the near-total vacuum of space, and from
> the on-average near-absolute-zero temperature of space. Hardy little buggers,
> aren't they?

     Good point, but what if they're frozen (and I mean *frozen*, at about
5 Kelvin) inside a big blob of water ice?  That ought to stop everything
short of cosmic rays, while keeping spores quite well preserved.

     And "tens of thousands of years" may be old hat, if the "surviving
bacterial spores in amber" story holds up.

--Erich Schwarz

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