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Thread: Space borne Fungal spores and Bacteria Terraforming planets?

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    Space borne Fungal spores and Bacteria Terraforming planets?

    Not only are many Fungi tasty but they are also probably responsible along with bacteria for "life as we know it". They appear to act in a way which could be construed as actively terraforming our planet, paving the way for higher life forms. Perhaps Fungi and bacteria were dispersed throughout the cosmos by cosmic collisions and other "natural" means or, dare I say it, Aliens(?), as a way to make the universe friendlier to life.... Fungi do have a spore which can survive in space for millions of years under the right conditions. I don't see how that would have been necessary if they had evolved on Earth. Regardless of their source, natural or intelligently driven, the Panspermia hypothesis seems quite possible. The early appearance of these life forms on Earth leads to questions......
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    According to a Penn State research team:

    "The early appearance on the land of fungi and plants suggests their plausible role in both the mysterious lowering of the Earth's surface temperature during the series of Snowball Earth events roughly 750 million to 580 million years ago and the sudden appearance of many new species of fossil animals during the Cambrian Explosion era roughly 530 million years ago. "Both the lowering of the Earth's surface temperature and the evolution of many new types of animals could result from a decrease in atmospheric carbon dioxide and a rise in oxygen caused by the presence on land of lichen fungi and plants at this time, which our research suggests, Hedges says."

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    And from an article in Science Frontiers #42,

    "Can spores survive in interstellar space?"

    "There is good evidence that life appeared on earth just 200-400 million years after the crust had cooled (assuming conventional methods of measuring age). Two hundred million years seems a bit on the short side for the spontaneous generation of life, although no one really knows just how long this process should take (forever?). The apparent rapidity of the onset of terrestrial life has led to a reexamination of the old panspermia hypothesis, in which spores, bacteria, or even nonliving "templates" of life descended on the lifeless but fertile earth from interstellar space.

    P. Weber and J.M. Greenberg have now tested spores (actually Bacillus subtilis) under temperature and ultraviolet radiation levels expected in interstellar space. They found that 90% of the spores under test would be killed in times on the order of hundreds of years -- far too short for panspermia to work at interstellar distances. However, if the spores are transported in dark, molecular clouds, which are not uncommon between the stars, survival times of tens or hundreds of million years are indicated by the experiments. Under such conditions, the interstellar transportation of life is possible.

    But perhaps the injection and capture phases of panspermia might be lethal to spores. Weber and Greenberg think not -- under certain conditions. The collision of a large comet or meteorite could inject spores from a life-endowed planet into space safely, particularly if the impacting object glanced off into space pulling ejecta after it. The terminal phase, the capture of spores from a passing molecular cloud by the solar system and then the earth, would be nonlethal if the spores were somehow coated with a thin veneer of ultraviolet absorbing material. In sum, the experiments place limits on panspermia, but do not rule it out by any means."
    (Weber, Peter, and Greenberg, J. Mayo; "Can Spores Survive in Interstellar Space?" Nature, 316:403, 1985.)

    Spores do seem to be coated with a thin veneer of ultraviolet deflecting material....

    By Scott Mechura in Big Sky Magazine,

    "Living spores have been found and collected in every level of earth’s atmosphere. Mushroom spores are electron-dense and can survive in the vacuum of space. Additionally, their outer layer is actually metallic and of a purple hue, which naturally allows the spore to deflect ultraviolet light. And as if all this wasn’t unique enough, the outer shell of the spore is the hardest organic compound to exist in nature"

    And then we have bacterial survival in space....

    G. Horneck, H. Bücker, G. Reitz
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    https://doi.org/10.1016/0273-1177(94)90448-0Get rights and content

    Abstract:

    "On board of the NASA Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF), spores of Bacillus subtilis in monolayers (106/sample) or multilayers (108/sample) were exposed to the space environment for nearly six years and their survival was analyzed after retrieval. The response to space parameters, such as vacuum (10−6 Pa), solar electromagnetic radiation up to the highly energetic vacuum-ultraviolet range (109 J/m2) and/or cosmic radiation (4.8 Gy), was studied and compared to the results of a simultaneously running ground control experiment. If shielded against solar ultraviolet (UV)-radiation, up to 80 % of spores in multilayers survive in space. Solar UV-radiation, being the most deleterious parameter of space, reduces survival by 4 orders of magnitude or more. However, up to 104 viable spores were still recovered, even in completely unprotected samples. Substances, such as glucose or buffer salts serve as chemical protectants. With this 6 year study in space, experimental data are provided to the discussion on the likelihood of “Panspermia”."

    So there you have it. If early Earth was the recipient of space borne fungi and bacteria it points to a universe full of life, and most likely ALIENS!
    Last edited by Grant Hatch; 2018-Apr-15 at 08:20 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grant Hatch View Post
    Fungi do have a spore which can survive in space for millions of years under the right conditions. I don't see how that would have been necessary if they had evolved on Earth. Regardless of their source, natural or intelligently driven, the Panspermia hypothesis seems quite possible. The early appearance of these life forms on Earth leads to questions......

    "There is good evidence that life appeared on earth just 200-400 million years after the crust had cooled (assuming conventional methods of measuring age). Two hundred million years seems a bit on the short side for the spontaneous generation of life, although no one really knows just how long this process should take (forever?). The apparent rapidity of the onset of terrestrial life has led to a reexamination of the old panspermia hypothesis, in which spores, bacteria, or even nonliving "templates" of life descended on the lifeless but fertile earth from interstellar space.

    P. Weber and J.M. Greenberg have now tested spores (actually Bacillus subtilis) under temperature and ultraviolet radiation levels expected in interstellar space. They found that 90% of the spores under test would be killed in times on the order of hundreds of years -- far too short for panspermia to work at interstellar distances. However, if the spores are transported in dark, molecular clouds, which are not uncommon between the stars, survival times of tens or hundreds of million years are indicated by the experiments. Under such conditions, the interstellar transportation of life is possible.

    <snip>

    Photosynthetic bacteria as stromatolites had an undeniable role in making the earth more suitable for life, if that suitability, as we can retrospectively define it, includes an oxygen rich atmosphere.. of course it is less suitable for the purple bacteria and early life forms that do not prefer such an environment. This is the Great Oxygenation Crisis which makes a new environment that precludes the transformers; is this the way you think an intelligently designed terraforming agent would work?

    These dark molecular clouds even if they worked as advertised, do you think they would survive the movement into a solar system dynamic environment? Wouldn't they be dispersed by gravity or the radiation from the young star, exposing the contents to the life span of a few hundred years at most, which would be inadequate to allow them to reach a planet in the photic zone.

    That million year life time just hasn't been tested, we have no evidence for that statement. Look at the DNA damage done to astronaut cells in a few months of exposure to astronauts that are housed inside a climate controlled spacecraft protected from UV and cosmic rays by a metallic shell far thicker than anything layered on the outside of a fungal cell.

    Sorry but local evolution is so much more plausible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grant Hatch View Post
    Not only are many Fungi tasty
    Speak for yourself!

    Quote Originally Posted by Grant Hatch View Post
    Fungi do have a spore which can survive in space for millions of years under the right conditions. I don't see how that would have been necessary if they had evolved on Earth.
    It could be simply that they evolved to be extremely durable in the harsh conditions on earth (mechanically, I mean), and that in space there is even less mechanical stress, so they last for much longer. I think that a plant seeds can also survive the conditions in space to some extent.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grant Hatch View Post
    Spores do seem to be coated with a thin veneer of ultraviolet deflecting material....
    Given that UV light is one of the major causes of mutation, I think that would be quite understandable. We ourselves have defenses (melanin) against UV light damage.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grant Hatch View Post
    So there you have it. If early Earth was the recipient of space borne fungi and bacteria it points to a universe full of life, and most likely ALIENS!
    Panspermia is an intriguing topic, but not the aliens part... That's a jump there. Just because we don't understand something, we can't jump to the conclusion that it is "most likely aliens."
    As above, so below

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grant Hatch View Post

    "The early appearance on the land of fungi and plants suggests their plausible role in both the mysterious lowering of the Earth's surface temperature during the series of Snowball Earth events roughly 750 million to 580 million years ago and the sudden appearance of many new species of fossil animals during the Cambrian Explosion era roughly 530 million years ago.
    Actually land plants appear in the Ordovician, long after the appearance of multicellular life in the sea. The land was an arid desert of sand for most all of history until then. The plants probably allow animals, arthropods initially, to move into the foreshore. The first land plants is actually quite close to the age of appearance of the first fish, but recogniseable phyla had been in the seas for maybe 100 million years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post




    Panspermia is an intriguing topic, but not the aliens part... That's a jump there. Just because we don't understand something, we can't jump to the conclusion that it is "most likely aliens."
    I think he meant that if Panspermia were true, it could imply the existence of alien life, not that aliens were a cause but rather an effect.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    I think he meant that if Panspermia were true, it could imply the existence of alien life, not that aliens were a cause but rather an effect.
    It's possible, but in the first paragraph he wrote:
    Perhaps Fungi and bacteria were dispersed throughout the cosmos by cosmic collisions and other "natural" means or, dare I say it, Aliens(?),
    So I assumed he was referring to that.
    As above, so below

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    So this is "directed panspermia"?
    SHARKS (crossed out) MONGEESE (sic) WITH FRICKIN' LASER BEAMS ATTACHED TO THEIR HEADS

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Mazanec View Post
    So this is "directed panspermia"?
    I wonder how that even works.. do the aliens spot a dark molecular cloud heading for a collision with a young solar system and then fly out and inject it with some amount of dormant spores, the inefficiencies would be mind-boggling.

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    Quote Originally Posted by transreality View Post
    I wonder how that even works.. do the aliens spot a dark molecular cloud heading for a collision with a young solar system and then fly out and inject it with some amount of dormant spores, the inefficiencies would be mind-boggling.
    If the dispersion of spores was natural there is no need for "directed panspermia". Given the age of the Universe, once the chemistry for life was in place, probably within the first few billion years, it implies 10 plus billion years for life to evolve somewhere and then begin dispersing spores throughout the cosmos jumpstarting life elsewhere bypassing the (presumably) long process of it evolving naturally.

    If, however, the earliest intelligent Aliens wanted to actively disperse spores I don't see a huge problem either if: 1) They took a long term view of things and simply wanted to make sure life (assuming they hadn't found signs of it elsewhere) was dispersed outward from it's origin by some means which protected it. We are already talking about sending super lightwieght probes to Alpha Centauri using laser driven light sails and spores don't weigh much! Nor does RNA/DNA. or 2) Had developed technologically to the point where they could actively choose young barren yet fertile planetary systems and rapidly deliver the best "type" of terraforming life to it by means we can only speculate about...FTL? The Cambrium explosion had even Darwin scratching his head.
    Last edited by Grant Hatch; 2018-Apr-17 at 07:16 PM.

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    The mathematics do not support natural, undirected interstellar Panspermia, unfortunately. Fungi or bacteria would die before reaching another star, since any micro-organism travelling between stars would need to survive for millions, or billions of years before making landfall.

    There are exceptions to this rule,of course; panspermia within stellar clusters is much more likely, but most clusters fall apart after a few hundred million years, which is a bit of a short period or the emergence of life.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grant Hatch View Post
    If the dispersion of spores was natural there is no need for "directed panspermia". Given the age of the Universe, once the chemistry for life was in place, probably within the first few billion years, it implies 10 plus billion years for life to evolve somewhere and then begin dispersing spores throughout the cosmos jumpstarting life elsewhere bypassing the (presumably) long process of it evolving naturally..
    but you need these 'dark molecular clouds' to allow the spores to survive. Or is this just handwaving? what is the timeframe required to get spores into the cloud, what is the efficiency of this cloud transport?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grant Hatch View Post
    If, however, the earliest intelligent Aliens wanted to actively disperse spores I don't see a huge problem either if: 1) They took a long term view of things and simply wanted to make sure life (assuming they hadn't found signs of it elsewhere) was dispersed outward from it's origin by some means which protected it. We are already talking about sending super lightwieght probes to Alpha Centauri using laser driven light sails and spores don't weigh much! Nor does RNA/DNA. or 2) Had developed technologically to the point where they could actively choose young barren yet fertile planetary systems and rapidly deliver the best "type" of terraforming life to it by means we can only speculate about...FTL? .
    one huge problem: it takes on the order of a billion years for unpowered object to float through space to another star, while life is present on the earth after 3-400 million years. Evolution, by all evidence, is much faster than undirected dispersal. Or these spores also need to be able to survive sitting in a laser beam for how long? And where are all the cosmological lasers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grant Hatch View Post
    The Cambrium explosion had even Darwin scratching his head.
    Fortunately a lot of people have been working in the fields of biology and paleontology and geology since the Victorian era, and the 'Cambrian explosion' is a lot less mysterious than it once was. Firstly multicellular life had been around for millions of years already, secondly as the super continent dispersed the climate improved and sea level rose opening up many habitats, and thirdly the metabolic processes evolved that allowed animals to move into warm carbonate rich basins, where they had been previously restricted to cold sandy habitats. This allowed a lot of innovations such as teeth, skeletons, armour and other body structure that created a diversification of forms and ecological niches. Basically the 'Cambrian explosion' had a long Ediacaran fuse.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eburacum45 View Post
    The mathematics do not support natural, undirected interstellar Panspermia, unfortunately. Fungi or bacteria would die before reaching another star, since any micro-organism travelling between stars would need to survive for millions, or billions of years before making landfall.

    There are exceptions to this rule,of course; panspermia within stellar clusters is much more likely, but most clusters fall apart after a few hundred million years, which is a bit of a short period or the emergence of life.
    I more like the idea that a space capable creature could evolve within the time frame of a open cluster and find that there are still lots of star systems within range of what ever method they use to travel, that's not really panspermia though.

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    This Kind of explains a call in show I heard earlier this week, was busy and didn't hear the first part of the call.
    From the wilderness to the cosmos.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Backroad Astronomer View Post
    This Kind of explains a call in show I heard earlier this week, was busy and didn't hear the first part of the call.
    is it possible you are referring to this article or its promotional guff?

    Cause of Cambrian Explosion - Terrestrial or Cosmic?

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/scienc...79610718300798

    This incredibly dodgy multi-factorial rubbish by the usual suspects full of speculative 'ideas' and totally lacking in evidence despite a massive swath of co-authors. Apparently squid eggs must have floated through space and gave rise to our cephalopod alien overlords. State of the art panspermia: it will remain useful only as a compendium of writers to be given no credence in astrobiology.
    Last edited by transreality; 2018-Apr-19 at 11:20 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    Speak for yourself!



    It could be simply that they evolved to be extremely durable in the harsh conditions on earth (mechanically, I mean), and that in space there is even less mechanical stress, so they last for much longer. I think that a plant seeds can also survive the conditions in space to some extent.



    Given that UV light is one of the major causes of mutation, I think that would be quite understandable. We ourselves have defenses (melanin) against UV light damage.



    Panspermia is an intriguing topic, but not the aliens part... That's a jump there. Just because we don't understand something, we can't jump to the conclusion that it is "most likely aliens."
    Just looking at the time line...plenty of time to evolve intelligent life.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eburacum45 View Post
    The mathematics do not support natural, undirected interstellar Panspermia, unfortunately. Fungi or bacteria would die before reaching another star, since any micro-organism travelling between stars would need to survive for millions, or billions of years before making landfall.

    There are exceptions to this rule,of course; panspermia within stellar clusters is much more likely, but most clusters fall apart after a few hundred million years, which is a bit of a short period or the emergence of life.
    Mathematics is an important tool but not a perfect representation of reality. The field is evolving constantly, and mathematics results are driven by the "input" and certain "assumptions" among other things, and you know what they say about assumptions.....
    Last edited by Grant Hatch; 2018-Apr-20 at 02:03 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by transreality View Post
    but you need these 'dark molecular clouds' to allow the spores to survive. Or is this just handwaving? what is the timeframe required to get spores into the cloud, what is the efficiency of this cloud transport?



    one huge problem: it takes on the order of a billion years for unpowered object to float through space to another star, while life is present on the earth after 3-400 million years. Evolution, by all evidence, is much faster than undirected dispersal. Or these spores also need to be able to survive sitting in a laser beam for how long? And where are all the cosmological lasers?



    Fortunately a lot of people have been working in the fields of biology and paleontology and geology since the Victorian era, and the 'Cambrian explosion' is a lot less mysterious than it once was. Firstly multicellular life had been around for millions of years already, secondly as the super continent dispersed the climate improved and sea level rose opening up many habitats, and thirdly the metabolic processes evolved that allowed animals to move into warm carbonate rich basins, where they had been previously restricted to cold sandy habitats. This allowed a lot of innovations such as teeth, skeletons, armour and other body structure that created a diversification of forms and ecological niches. Basically the 'Cambrian explosion' had a long Ediacaran fuse.
    Addressing the time problem, 10 billion years more or less is the period of time in which early life has had the chance to travel outwards from it's genesis given what we "know" about our universe. Early life showed up on earth within a few hundred million years after its formation according to mainstream science. Additionally, Cosmic collisions could inject materials into the interstellar medium at higher than "normal" velocities.... spreading outwards to other stellar systems in much less than a billion years, like it really matters given the 10 billion year time frame.

    You say that evolution is much faster than any naturally occurring interstellar transport. We have little to no "proof" of that. We still have no clear cut pathway to understanding the genesis/evolution of life here, only that it appeared and then eventually in a blink of time ( a few million years)after billions of years as "simple" life (small), the Cambrium "Explosion" created complex and (Large) life which was more diverse in family/phyla than today, believe it or not.

    Personally, I believe that our Universe is creating life with no help from Aliens. I only speculate that in addition to natural processes "Aliens" may be "helping out" in a preferencial way,
    Last edited by Grant Hatch; 2018-Apr-20 at 03:03 AM. Reason: additions

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grant Hatch View Post
    Cosmic collisions could inject materials into the interstellar medium at higher than "normal" velocities.... spreading outwards to other stellar systems in much less than a billion years, like it really matters given the 10 billion year time frame.
    Space is incredibly hostile to biological matter inparticular biological information. And time of exposure is critical.

    Galactic Cosmic Rays.

    "Stanley Curtis, a physicist with LBL's Cell and Molecular Biology Division, helped write the book on radiation exposures for astronauts:

    'Once a spacecraft is outside the Earth's magnetosphere,' says Curtis, 'the probability is that any given cell nucleus within an astronaut will be hit once every three days by a proton and once a month by a helium ion. The heavier ions will hit less frequently. That same cell, for instance, will be hit once every six years both by a carbon and oxygen ion and once every 100 years by an iron ion. When the full spectrum of particle radiation is included, over a three-year mission a heavy ion with charge between 10 (neon) and 26 (iron) would hit one in every three cell nuclei.'"

    millions or billions of years of exposure to this flux of ions will degrade individual cells, or at least their DNA, any metallic shielding just makes the problem worse with spallation, gas clouds may shield against UV but not so much against relativistic heavy ions.

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