Francis Harry Compton Crick, one of the most famous British molecular biologist, biophysicist, and neuroscientist, noted for being the co-discoverer of the structure of the DNA molecule in 1953 with James Watson had some fascinating views on how life ‘arose’ on Earth.
Life on Earth—an alien creator civilization, and Directed Panspermia
Directed panspermia can be interpreted as the deliberate transport of microorganisms in space to be used as introduced species on lifeless planets.
Interestingly, Shklovskii and Sagan in 1966, and Crick and Orgel before them in 1973, theorized how life on Earth may have been seeded deliberately by alien civilizations, from elsewhere in the universe.
The idea of Directed Panspermia can be traced back to the science fiction work called Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon, published in 1930.
In 1953, Francis Crick said how: “…organisms were deliberately transmitted to earth by intelligent beings on another planet. We conclude that it is possible that life reached the earth in this way, but that the scientific evidence is inadequate at the present time to say anything about the probability…”
Furthermore, Crick’s ideas on the theory that we are a result of ‘a bunch of molecules crashing into each other’ are that it is as likely as the assembly of a Jumbo Jet, hit by a hurricane in a junkyard.
In the book titled ‘Life Itself,’ Francis Crick wrote that there is NO POSSIBLE WAY that the DNA molecule could have kick-started on Earth randomly and that it must have originated from elsewhere. Directed Panspermia.
Crick wondered how it was possible that “nature” created at the same time, two mutually interdependent elements to give rise to life. Crick had a hard time figuring out how the genetic material (nucleic acids, like DNA or RNA) and the mechanism that allows its perpetuation (proteins called enzymes) arose at the same time and spontaneously.
Furthermore, if nucleic acid synthesis is protein-dependent, and the proteins, in turn, rely on nucleic acids, Crick and his collaborator Leslie Orgel faced a problem similar to that of the egg and the chicken, what came first?
Thus, the dynamic mastermind duo came to the conclusion that terrestrial life may/could have originated in a world where there was some sort of “mineral or compound” that could have replaced the function of enzymes, from which it would have been disseminated to other planets, such as ours, through “a deliberate activity of an extraterrestrial society”.
Although this was far from a conventional hypothesis, the truth is that Crick tried to answer an incisive question, at a given time. It would be many years after the discovery of the double DNA helix until it was discovered that RNA can function as an enzyme, without the need for proteins, ie the solution to the problem that inspired the alien panspermia theory of Crick.
Thus, by 1993, Crick and Orgel published a new scientific article in which they no longer mentioned an alleged extraterrestrial intervention.
The problem of egg and chicken “could be solved if, early in the evolution of life, nucleic acids acted as catalysts,” the scientists wrote.
Surely a super advanced alien civilization would have been capable of something like that—if of course there is one somewhere in the cosmos.
We—our civilization—for example, are capable of seeding life on lifeless planets.
Claudius Gros, a theoretical physicist at Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, has proposed the idea of transplanting life to other planets in an essay published in Astrophysics and Space Science. He refers to the idea as Project Genesis.
The idea is to send out low-cost robotic spacecraft that contain a shipment full of microbial life forms—bacteria and unicellular eukaryotes—and direct them towards exoplanets identified by astronomers as being potentially habitable.
So, if we can do it today, how do we know someone didn’t plant us here on Earth in the distant past?
Food for thought?
Featured image credit: Prometheus—20th Century Fox.