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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

[Science and the world of tomorrow] Life carried to Earth by a meteor or comet, would we even know if it did?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26821points) October 26th, 2016

I was at one of the Brethren’s home watching the science channels he frequently watches and it was speaking on the Apollo missions and how they were worried about bringing some space virus back with the samples they collected. What got me thinking is on past threads here, some said that we could not be affected by a virus from space unless it had the same DNA make up as us or something like that. It serves good reason to me that if any life out there evolved or developed from some other path than humans, which life might not look like any life to us in reality. What if that life to us as just a chemical process? Say a meteor lands with extraterrestrial life but that life was not based off what we could recognize, say that life appeared as corrosion on metal, that as it reproduced on the metal the metal got brittle and lost its integrity, would we just see it as some molecular contamination and miss it as a life form altogether?

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6 Answers

Seek's avatar

Well, yeah. We’d probably miss it entirely, until someone happened across it, and happened to study it closely enough to recognize it consuming and replicating.

Which is, indeed, a lot of happenstance.

If you come across something that you think might be a meteorite, you can submit it for testing at one of these fine institutions and then auction it to the highest bidder. Maybe that person will test it for alien rust eating algae.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Life is probably all over the fucking place. We’ll find a lot of it and likely miss some. The universe is just too big and conditions are just too good in too many places for it to be isolated much. Just look where life flourishes here, we are going to find it and we are likely not that far away from doing so.

Rarebear's avatar

In the early ‘90s, there was a meteor that was found that was thought to have fossilized Martian bacteria on it. However, it is now thought that it was an artifact.

flutherother's avatar

There isnt a clear division between life and non life. A meteor might contain what appears to be an inert chemical substance which is able to slip through the skin of anyone touching it and copying itself within the human body just like a virus.

disquisitive's avatar

I think it happened and we elected it president.

cazzie's avatar

@disquisitive yeah, I always suspected LBJ to be an alien life form. The man was just too damn proud of his penis… like he just discovered it or something. You’re right, we elected LBJ president.

Anything that lands to Earth these days would have to survive a hell of a temperature during its fall to the planet’s surface. Most things blow up into small pieces or disintegrate to nothing. This is because we now have an atmosphere like we do. It wasn’t always the case in the long history of our little blue marble we call home. What we have on Earth could very well have evolved from something that landed, say, with water from comets or the like. Life is very much just a physical and chemical process and thinking it is something greater with more purpose is simply hubris.
The good news is that we are the result of billions of years of the universe and our planet and solar system and the chemistry that started here all working together with its fundamental chemistry and physics that we can study and learn from and feel the awe and wonder of the process we know and see, if you know how to see it. The planet and the universe is truly something to marvel.

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