Should we jump start life on other planets to at least see what is possible and what is not so that we can expand our definition at least a little bit, and perhaps see something that we never thought would be possible. Now this idea; it may sound like it goes against the very search for life, I mean it is kind of like cheating in a sense because we are not really “finding” life that sprouted up on its own through some magical means that’s so rare and unique to that galaxy. But instead we are taking everything on earth that could possibly evolve into a hierarchy of complex cells (bacteria, fungus, viruses, stem cells, sperm and eggs) and just cargo dumping them all over a planets surface that at least has some earth like aspects like titan. Throughout the coming paragraphs I will discuss the reason why I suggest doing such a thing that a huge taboo in the space world, and the implications that it would have if we did it.
Now I know, that what I’m suggesting is blasphemy in some circles in the world of science and the gods of science (Carl Sagan, Neil Degrasse Tyson, and Einstein) would have a word or two to say about this plan, but hear me out, the reason why I’m suggesting this is because so far, we have not had the remote blip or sign of life in our universe. Now I can hear your thoughts “well the universe is vast and expanding equally in all directions so maybe they haven’t gotten to us yet or we haven’t looked in the right area at the right time”. Well if that’s the case we may never get to see them as some would point out, in fact in some physics circles some say we are essentially islanded because of the distance and expansion rate. So why don’t we just take the reins and take the charge so that we can at least have another life form to compare ourselves to, so that in the very least the definition of what it means to be alive can be a little more detailed and focused instead of this or that, because let’s face it as scientists we are split like mommas corn bread do over this definition and its only hindering us in the long run, and yeah ill admit it would be kind of cool to see how they progress and maybe one day humans could have children in a space sense.
So, lets just say we do this what exactly would come of it? I mean aside from the obvious outcome life. Well for starters it would as stated before give us a kind of narrowing view of what exactly life is, and what it really means to be “alive”. More importantly though it would allow us to see for a lack of a better word life, now what I mean by that is that it would show us the life finds a way path because let’s face it; we have no idea in the slightest of how exactly life would come about on another world which again leaves us with a broad definition, but by doing this we will be able to see just how things really evolve when exposed to a “alien” planet. Sounds like I’m just going in circles, right? So, let me elaborate; we dump eggs, sperm, bacteria, all the aforementioned on titan into the water and land and air, now they are earth based lifeforms, so they would not be able to survive right? Maybe, maybe not in fact they could completely merge together and bring forth a new being all together or mutate into something we never would think of in our wildest dreams, i.e. life finds a way.
Now aside from the purely scientific and genetic fact of doing this there is also a philosophical aspect I want to touch on, and this does kind of get weird and out there in a way at least to me. We do this seed a planet and just wait and watch, of course all of us living would be dead unless we convert to computers; but aside form that the next breed of scientists come along and look and see life forming in a very complex and mysterious way that defies all that we know about biology. Ok so far not philosophical but here’s where it gets out there, so far life has not been found right, and its looking like there are some habitable worlds but no life yet, and some are saying maybe we are alone or life is just so rare that we may never find it. Well if we were to create life maybe just maybe we would begin to understand where we came from, maybe we were the seeds form another civilization doing just what we are doing. Perhaps by seeding life we can understand our life, our beginnings, and look at what happened on this other planet and build models for ours; though this would only be if we were to find a planet really, really earth like or at least enough like us (water, atmosphere) that we can consider any variable’s and get rid of them. I mean if we send them to a planet that has water and an atmosphere, but a crap ton of radiation and they grow humanoid but with glowing rods we know why at least. Maybe this is just the next logical step we have to take to truly understand the origins or life; because lets face it, even if we find life on another planet or signatures one of two things can happen, either they are so devolved that the earth will die by the time they get the technology to reach us; or we will never be able to reach them, and or they are just so advanced that we to them are ants and they would not pay attention to. I’m going to leave you with this quote that essentially sums up my views:
“humans are magical we have tread in the domain of god, and seen the light on the other side yet for all the talk of being gods children we don’t harness the power that we have. Perhaps we are afraid of screwing up so badly that we must start over “the flood”, or so naïve that we don’t see this; in any case for us to truly take that next step we have to push the bounds of our morality, and views and as they say give it the old college try. Or else we might as well just stay on earth and give up, but sooner or later we will have to break the rules to continue to advance and grow beyond our bonds.”
I think your agreement is extremely interesting and is not something I had seriously considered previously. I for one would love to see if life can really preserve in an unknown, alien environment and we can watch it adapt and eventually evolve. I especially think the aspect of the argument where life is either too evolved or so basic to interact with us a strong reason to take it into our own hands. However, something I don't believe you addressed is the possibility of us interfering possibly obstructing life from naturally forming and even exterminating life we were not aware of. With life being so fragile, I think it is important to keep ethics in the front of our minds.
If we could cultivate other planets, should we? What about mine them? What will stop such activities once the economics of them are there. We spoke briefly in class about replicators. It was suggested that eventually, the conditions in the environment would not be the same as when replication started, and thus introducing a mutation. What if we change the environment to another planet and use science to help the life that we know become compatible?