A number of evolutionists have become disillusioned with ideas that life could have evolved from non-living chemicals on Earth (i.e. via chemical evolution, sometimes called ‘abiogenesis’). So they hoped that with the whole universe to work with, life might have evolved elsewhere in the universe, and travelled to Earth. This is the theory of panspermia, from Greek πᾶς/πᾶν (pas/pan, all) and σπέρμα (sperma, seed), i.e. seeds of life are everywhere in the universe (see how one evolutionist ‘reasons’ to panspermia).
The classic form of panspermia is the theory that these seeds happen to hitch a ride on comets or meteorites (as opposed to ‘directed panspermia’ where the seeds are sent by aliens1). Yet a recent experiment has dealt a fatal blow to this theory, because it showed that they couldn’t survive the extreme heat on entering the earth’s atmosphere—and causes meteoroids to become meteors or ‘shooting stars’.2
Scientists at the Centre of Molecular Biophysics in Orleans, France, managed to simulate a meteorite entry by attaching rocks to the heat shield of a returning Russian spacecraft (FOTON M3 capsule) last month. These rocks were smeared with a hardy bacterium called Chroococcidiopsis—supposed to resemble a proposed germ on Mars. The rocks also contained microfossils.
After the spacecraft was retrieved, the microfossils survived, but the Chroococcidiopsis was burned black, although their outlines remained. Lead author Frances Westall says:
Their original paper stated:
The paper also had this typically cautious concluding remark:
It turned out that there was:
However, this didn’t stop the leading researcher asserting that 2 cm of rock was insufficient, both in a press release and in their abstract. A real rock is likely to have gaps larger than in the experiment.
Indeed, this experiment seems to understate the problems. The paper states:
One must question whether little over half the speed is ‘slightly lower’. It’s worse because the frictional drag and kinetic energy are proportional to the square of the velocity; i.e. if the velocity is doubled, the drag and energy are quadrupled.4
This indicates that a real meteorite would heat up much more, requiring an even thicker shield.
This experiment also supports our rejection of the life from Mars hype in 1996, in that the atmosphere would likely fry any Martian meteoritic microbes. We also pointed out that life on Mars was more likely to have been blasted off from Earth in the first place, and this experiment indirectly reinforces this. I.e. the frictional drag is proportional to the atmospheric density,4 and the Martian atmosphere is < 1% as dense as ours. So planets with dense atmospheres are more likely to be sources than destinations for life.
Panspermia has now been shown to have a huge flaw. Since panspermia was a common last-ditch attempt to preserve materialism in the face of problems in chemical evolution on Earth, materialism itself has likewise taken yet another huge blow.