A new paper published by a Harvard astrophysicist examines the probability that life could spread between planets and even galaxies.
Science entertains the possibility that life exists elsewhere in the universe, but what if we could send it there ourselves? According to a story from Discovery News, a Harvard astrophysicist has been modeling the statistical probabilities that space-faring life ‘seeds’ would land on a hospitable planet. And he thinks it’s totally possible.
The name for Professor Henry Lin’s idea is “Panspermia.” Lin explains that there are a number of ways life could be transferred between planets. It could happen naturally, in the wake of an asteroid impact that fractures the ground and sends life blasting off into space. The chances would be slim, but it is possible that hardy survivors could begin the process of recolonization on a welcoming world.
Going a step further, Lin’s models brought him to the hypothesis that panspermia could be deliberately carried out by intelligent life. By packing spacefaring pioneer species into capsules and blasting them towards distant galaxies, it may be possible to expand the reach of life beyond one’s own planet.
It’s already possible that panspermia has occurred in our own solar system. There have been many documented asteroid impacts throughout Earth’s history that very well could have sent chunks of crust soaring towards the outer planets and their many moons where many believe the conditions for life could theoretically exist.
On the cosmic scale, life may hop between planets and galaxies in a pattern that would resemble the spread of a virus throughout a population. Branching off in more directions, if it masters the process of multiplying, populating, and shipping off, life could very well plague the universe like an epidemic.