Professor: We have a 'moral obligation' to seed universe with life

February 9, 2010 by Lisa Zyga, report

Directed panspermia missions could target interstellar clouds such as the Rho Ophiuchus cloud complex located about 500 light-years away. This view spans about five light-years across. The false-color image is taken from the Spitzer Space Telescope. Credit: NASA.
( -- Eventually, the day will come when life on Earth ends. Whether that’s tomorrow or five billion years from now, whether by nuclear war, climate change, or the Sun burning up its fuel, the last living cell on Earth will one day wither and die. But that doesn’t mean that all is lost. What if we had the chance to sow the seeds of terrestrial life throughout the universe, to settle young planets within developing solar systems many light-years away, and thus give our long evolutionary line the chance to continue indefinitely?

According to Michael Mautner, Research Professor of Chemistry at Virginia Commonwealth University, seeding the universe with life is not just an option, it’s our moral obligation. As members of this planet’s menagerie, and a consequence of nearly 4 billion years of evolution, humans have a purpose to propagate life. After all, whatever else life is, it necessarily possesses an incessant drive for self-perpetuation. And the idea isn’t just fantasy: Mautner says that “directed panspermia” missions can be accomplished with present technology.

“We have a moral obligation to plan for the propagation of life, and even the transfer of human life to other solar systems which can be transformed via microbial activity, thereby preparing these worlds to develop and sustain complex life,” Mautner explained to “Securing that future for life can give our human existence a cosmic purpose.”

As Mautner explains in his study published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Cosmology, the strategy is to deposit an array of primitive organisms on potentially fertile planets and protoplanets throughout the universe. Like the earliest , organisms such as cyanobacteria could seed other planets, digest toxic gases (such as ammonia and carbon dioxide on ) and release products such as oxygen which promote the evolution of more complex species. To increase their chances of success, the microbial payloads should contain a variety of organisms with various environmental tolerances, and hardy multicellular organisms such as rotifer eggs to jumpstart higher evolution. These organisms may be captured into asteroids and comets in the newly forming solar systems and transported from there by impacts to planets as their host environments develop.

Mautner has identified potential breeding grounds, which include extrasolar planets, accretion disks surrounding young stars that hold the gas and dust of future planets, and - at an even earlier stage - interstellar clouds that hold the materials to create stars. He explains that the Kepler mission may identify hundreds of biocompatible extrasolar planets, and astronomers are already aware of several accretion disks and interstellar clouds that could serve as targets. These potential habitats range in distance from a few light-years to 500 or more light-years away.

To transport the microorganisms, Mautner proposes using sail-ships. These ships offer a low-cost transportation method with solar sails, which can achieve high velocities using the radiation pressure from light. The microorganisms could be bundled in tiny capsules, each containing about 100,000 microorganisms and weighing 0.1 micrograms. Mautner predicts that the most challenging part of the process would be the precise aiming required in order for a mission to arrive at its target destination after hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of years of travel.

Accounting for the difficulties of each of the steps involved, Mautner has calculated how many microbial capsules would be needed to ensure a reasonable probability of success. He concludes that a few hundred tons of microbial biomass “can seed dozens of new solar systems in an interstellar cloud with life for eons.” With launch costs of $10,000/kg, this amount of biomass would cost about $1 billion to launch. If we can aim precisely at planets in nearby solar systems, the mission would require significantly fewer capsules, smaller biomass, and lower costs. Mautner predicts that, while the technology is currently available, such an initiative will be easier to implement as space infrastructure develops and launch costs decrease.

As Mautner notes, several scientists have previously proposed ways to seed planets (notably, Venus and Mars) in our own with microorganisms in order to alter the atmosphere and possibly make them habitable for humans. Also, some theories suggest that, on , life-supporting nutrients and materials - or even life itself - may have come from somewhere else in the universe, arriving here on meteors, asteroids, and comets. In a sense, Mautner’s proposal would simply be helping life’s planet-hopping journey continue.

But, some critics might ask, what if extraterrestrial life already exists somewhere else, and we infect it with our own invasive genetic material? First of all, Mautner explains that we can minimize these chances by targeting very primitive locations where life could not have evolved yet. In addition, he argues that, since extraterrestrial life is not currently known to exist, our first concern should be with preserving our family of organic gene/protein life that we know exists.

In the long term, Mautner is hopeful that life can continue existing beyond our home planet. Using techniques from astroecology based on the energy output of stars, he calculates that the amount of sustainable life can be significant in other neighborhoods of the universe. Of course, it’s impossible to know for sure how everything will turn out after we’re long gone.

“May life last indefinitely?” he writes. “The habitable lifetime of the galaxy may depend on the dark matter and energy. These forces may need to be observed for many more eons to predict their future behaviour. During those cosmological times our descendants may understand nature more deeply and seek to extend life indefinitely.”

Explore further: Exploring planets in distant space and deep interiors

More information: Michael N. Mautner. “Seeding the Universe with Life: Securing Our Cosmological Future.” Journal of Cosmology, 2010, Vol. 5.

Book: “Seeding the Universe with Life: Securing Our Cosmological Future” (available at and

Directed panspermia and the Society for Life in Space (SOLIS):
Astroecology and the future of life:
Ethical aspects:

Contact: info[at]

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4.8 / 5 (4) Feb 09, 2010
Better if we go ourselves, of course, but I agree with his basic idea. I just wonder if we're not the result of someone else's panspermia project?
4.8 / 5 (4) Feb 09, 2010
An evolutionary obligation, perhaps; I'm not sure if it could be considered a moral one (although I happen to agree with professor Mautner). However, I think that a LOT of care would need to go into making absolutely sure that the planets we're seeding don't already have life; I'm all for ensuring that Earth life doesn't die out with the death of the planet, but xenocide is something that we really ought to avoid. That said, though, if something like this is ultimately one of the effects of humanity having existed...well, that, at least, is a legacy that we could be proud of.
5 / 5 (3) Feb 09, 2010
Smells like next generation "Manifest Destiny" to me.
4.8 / 5 (5) Feb 09, 2010
It's a bit early for this. For all we know our Galaxy could be full of life..
2.7 / 5 (3) Feb 09, 2010
I can really see people wanting to spend $1b on something that has no direct use to us.
There are too many other important things at present, like saving ourselves first.
5 / 5 (2) Feb 09, 2010
Preparing currently azoic planets for a biosphere will require concepts like Von Neumann machines, nanotech and other technologies to mature before we can do planet-scale engineering...
2.8 / 5 (4) Feb 09, 2010
Some might say this is akin to viruses..

do we need to infect more worlds? Cold sterility is best!
4.8 / 5 (8) Feb 09, 2010
We have a lot to do before we are ready to seed life across the universe. There are three major scientific revolutions which are needed:

1. Molecular biology - already in progress but we've barely began. Eventually it will transform ourselves in ways as yet unimaginable. One obvious goal is extension of human life which should make space travel more feasible.

2. Molecular engineering - by which I mean design and manufacture of products with atomic precision. It will transform engineering giving us access to much better materials.

3. Quantum gravity/TOE - we need a better understanding of fundamental physics to know what is ultimately possible. This should lead to better space engines and many insights into the future evolution of our Universe. It should also tell us whether eventual heat death is unavoidable.

Another revolution would also greatly facilitate our progress - a better form of political government, one ensuring competence of leaders and lack of corruption.
3.3 / 5 (8) Feb 09, 2010
we haven't even conquered the depths of our seas and already we want to be the masters of the universe! this is ludicrous!
4 / 5 (5) Feb 09, 2010
I think the good professor needs a basic lecture in evolution.

Procreation in a species is not the same as having a 'purpose'. Purpose is target driven whereas procreation is simply 'keeping the species going'. Procreation did not become a drive because we have a goal but because those that follow the alternative strategy soon cease to be around. Evolution is selection, not 'drive'.

I'm also not too sure about where 'morals' come into play here. Is it morally OK to seed places with life that will preclude that place to throw up life on its own (maybe in radically different and interesting ways)?

First of all, Mautner explains that we can minimize these chances by targeting very primitive locations where life could not have evolved yet.

Oh, so we are suddenly experts on where life _can_ have evolved? That's news to me.

This guy is nuts.
3.3 / 5 (8) Feb 09, 2010
Whoa! Stop right there. Michael Mautner is being very naive. Given the fundamental nature of reality, and given that the conditions which can support life as we know it exists, and they will eventually around probably most stars in the course of their lifetimes, the progenesis and subsequent evolution of life is the rule rather than the exception. Professor Mautner is giving himself away, as a closet creationist who thinks that Planet Earth is special and that it is paramount for humans to perpetuate the concept of God by playing Him. The Universe is anthropocentric in nature. As a scientist, he should understand that. Reality already beat him to it. The only permissible way to bring life to other worlds is by visiting them.

2.5 / 5 (6) Feb 09, 2010
There was recently an article on here about how it may not be a good idea to 'radio ET' and announce our presence. Wouldn't this potentially be sending them a taste test/sample platter?
4.7 / 5 (3) Feb 09, 2010
Maybe that's how distant civilizations wage war: Dueling panspermia projects.

Go DNA, go DNA!
3 / 5 (4) Feb 09, 2010
We're too important to leave anything up to chance.

Are we? Only by our own value system.

I don't think it's a particularly unbiased way of making a choice (moral or not) if you base the choice of your value on your own set of values.
4.5 / 5 (2) Feb 09, 2010
Agree with Skeptic Heretic. Obligation to whom or what ? It's unnecessary, dangerous, counterproductive and futile to readmit some higher authority through the backdoor hoping that we won't notice. Do what thou wilt is the only "moral obligation" we have. Now let's talk about the possible merits of if and how to actually do it.
2.3 / 5 (4) Feb 09, 2010
A moral obligation?!? WTF?! Yeah right, let's pollute the universe with our kind of life!
3.9 / 5 (7) Feb 09, 2010
Interplanetary money shot.
3.7 / 5 (7) Feb 09, 2010
We have an inflated opinion of ourselves!

That's my opinion,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA PI for Apollo
3.3 / 5 (3) Feb 09, 2010
Funny version of morality. Neither humans nor life have priority in the universe. Let's just let things go by themselves, it's worked pretty well so far.
3 / 5 (4) Feb 09, 2010
this is after all the basic meaning and purpose of life... it may even be how life got started here.
4 / 5 (4) Feb 09, 2010
What is all his religious babbeling? 'Purpose','meaninG'. Humans are so ful of themselves.

We are a species. Like any other species we will live and we will go extinct at some point. So what? There is no 'moral imperative' to do anything. We might _wish_ to spread but we shouldn't sugarcoat such a selfish wish by claiming it is moral or 'our destiny'.

We have the moral obligation to ensure that our species does not die out, through ignorance or inaction. We owe this to our OFFSPRING,

Ever used a condom? Yes? Then you don't practice what you preach.

4.4 / 5 (5) Feb 09, 2010
Truth is any talk of morals or morality immediately pushes the discussion into subjective experience and makes it an illogical statement.

Morals are a human construct, there is no moral imperative to do anything aside from what an individual perceives as a net benefit. As I said above, this is manifest destiny on a grander stage with more ignorant players.
2.5 / 5 (4) Feb 09, 2010
It's more of an "immoral" obligation to me. Why would we perpetuate something that generates far more suffering than pleasure?
3.8 / 5 (4) Feb 09, 2010
Uplift anyone?
3.2 / 5 (5) Feb 09, 2010
I'm all for human expansion into the universe. It is the next logical step. It would be helpful, though, if we could solve our terrestrial problems first- I hate to think that humans are, ultimately, little better than a pathogen- despoiling first and then moving on to the next host.
Anyway- this guy is an arrogant clown, and as another poster commented above, this is just one huge, ego-driven money shot. The universe is alive and well, and pervaded with life- hence the ubiquitousness of organic compounds and primitive life forms found in cometery and meteoric bodies. And that is just carbon-based life. The universe is fractal, and repeats the same pattern(s) at all scales and at all times. I have Zero interest in putting even one penny into this nincompoop's egomaniacal, angst-ridden scheme. If we can't get out there as we are, then that's just too bad- we will have failed as a life form to survive. Time to get it together, Humans!
2.2 / 5 (5) Feb 09, 2010
If we don't do this then why should we bother to continue to exist now?

Mankind has no purpose other than to create more of itself like all other lifeforms that have ever existed or will ever exist in the future.

Therefore is it an individual's moral obligation to mankind. An individual who would act against this would be acting immorally towards mankind.
2.5 / 5 (4) Feb 09, 2010
We don't have a "moral obligation" to seed the universe, we have no choice in the matter. Evolution and survival of the fittest demands we inevitably seek to seed everything and everywhere, it's our ultimate purpose, our raison d'etre, we are powerless to prevent it, just as we are powerless to eradicate the urge to merge.
4 / 5 (4) Feb 09, 2010
Morals imply a purpose. Aren't you proud of what the human race can do?

No. Pride only makes sense with regard to _personal_ accomplishments. Being proud of a species (or country or race or skin color or family or whatever) makes absolutely no sense to me since I did absolutely NOTHING towards earning that pride.

Morals are a personal thing. There is no 'outside agency' that has imposed morals and no universal moral value system I can see that lives outside of humans.

Justifying what you want to do by what you think is right (without any external basis) is circular reasoning. It's a basic logical fallacy.

Thinking that "humans are meant to do X" is just the next step after tribalism, chauvinism and racism, (it's speciecism).

It seems that some never learn from the mistakes of the past - they just want to repeat humanity's mistakes on a grander scale.

1.7 / 5 (3) Feb 09, 2010
The only moral obligation we have is to learn how to live as well as possible - in our own bodies and on our home planet. Morality arises from what we all share in common - and not only all humans, but all beings. For some, this is represented by God, but it can also be viewed from a secular perspective as Life - there is little if any practical difference other than the confusions we, ourselves, create.

If some carbon-based life forms of Earth are meant to survive, they will, and if they are all meant to perish, they will.

If we can't learn how to live well in our bodies here on Earth, we have neither right nor obligation to even contemplate spreading life forms from Earth elsewhere through the Universe.
2 / 5 (2) Feb 09, 2010
This guy is completely crazy. What good will it be to send bacteria evolved and adapted to live in Earth-like conditions on other planets, and also preventing those planets from developing their own, unique, lifeforms? The only moral obligation we have is to perfect medical science so that we eliminate suffering and death for human beings, and then send ourselves (instead of puny cells) to explore and colonize the Universe (while being careful not to destroy alien lifeforms).

It's time we abandon the fallacies of groupthink (the good of the species, of Terran life, of Christianity, etc) and start thinking about the good of individuals - you, me, and each of us. I simply don't care what happens after I die, and neither should any of us, because we have no rational reason to do so.
4 / 5 (8) Feb 09, 2010
"since extraterrestrial life is not currently known to exist, our first concern should be with preserving our family of organic gene/protein life that we know exists"

Well, I guess we'll know extraterrestrial life exists when it shows up all pissed off and determined to neutralize whatever is waging biological warfare against them.

I have another idea...let's use the few BILLION years we probably have left to come up with a better plan!
1.5 / 5 (2) Feb 09, 2010
due to the unpredictable nature of Sun....they may make wonderful "INTELLIGENT DESIGN" on other planets.... the spirit will not be damaged only the body gets.
1 / 5 (2) Feb 09, 2010
very creative idea.
2.5 / 5 (4) Feb 09, 2010
"since extraterrestrial life is not currently known to exist, our first concern should be with preserving our family of organic gene/protein life that we know exists"

Well, I guess we'll know extraterrestrial life exists when it shows up all pissed off and determined to neutralize whatever is waging biological warfare against them.

I have another idea...let's use the few BILLION years we probably have left to come up with a better plan!

you mean a new form of life to replace bionic tissue? I saw a report that says injecting buckytubes into bone caused growth of chondriocytes. It made the bone harder and stronger. with a billion years we might be able to replce bones with nanotubes and eat buckyballs to replenish our selves.
2.8 / 5 (4) Feb 09, 2010
The ESA sent a probe to phobos to expose earth microbes to the ambient environment of photbos after it lands. What ever trace gasses on phobos are there will be sucked into a culture container then the phobos's soil will be incubated after innoculation with the earth bugs. Of course they might escape and contaminate phobos. I've pointed it out a few times and nobody cares if they infect that moon with microbes.
3 / 5 (2) Feb 10, 2010
At this point in time ,our moral obligation is just self-preservation and protecting ourselves from extinction.The rate at which we have already harmed our planet as a single species is seen all around us .Let's just focus on how to evolve into a more responsible species first and then we can think about where to go later and maybe then we will have developed better ways to find another home than by invading places with microorganisms and avoid the guilt of destroying others habitat unknowingly in the name of our own perpetuation.
1.5 / 5 (2) Feb 10, 2010
Aren't we the product of this professor?
1.3 / 5 (3) Feb 10, 2010
This project explains a metallic probe of unknown origin and composition, which landed on my back-yard. It was full of micro-capsules filled with some tasty matter. An inscription on the shell is still unclear, but I guess it means something like: "Our last hope". I really don't like garbage on my back-yard. I mean, we should seriously include a "return to sender" sticker. Just in case it will land on someone else's back-yard somewhere.
2.3 / 5 (4) Feb 10, 2010
Please read the Extraterrestrial Imperative from 1978 from the rocket scientist Dr Kraft Ehricke, for a much more cogent argument.
2 / 5 (4) Feb 10, 2010
Sounds a bit like the moral imperative of 19th century Europeans to spread "civilization" to the "backward" parts of the world. The universe got along just fine well before we showed up and it will continue in good order long after we are gone. Get off your self-righteous high horse.
3.3 / 5 (3) Feb 10, 2010
No opinion on the moral aspect of this, but practically speaking it seems a good idea to wait a few decades or centuries or millennia till we have some decent propulsion methods. Given current speeds and distances involved even a 10% improvement in speed is worth delaying the launch by a 1,000 years. And hopefully we can do better than 10% in 1,000 years.

On the other hand 2012 is around the corner so let's hurry up!
4 / 5 (5) Feb 10, 2010
this is religionism, the kind which would lead to the end of the species. Sit back and let god decide. No need to leave, this is our home. That's what Juden said in Breslau.

Oh, I didn't say we shouldn't leave this rock when we feel like it. We just shouldn't pretend it's a moral obligation, destiny or some species (or genetic) imperative.

When a dictator takes over the next country it's because he wants to. There is no moral justification to it (although often a constructed one is presented for the gullible who need to feel they are 'justified').

When we go out to colonize other planets it will be the same: because we _want_ to. Nothing more. Nothing less. Not because we have an obligation or it is morally demanded of us. Let's not sugarcoat our motives here.

If we want to be _moral_ about it then we will first go and have a look at that rock to make sure it isn't occupied before we seed it.
5 / 5 (3) Feb 10, 2010
The pain of lacking personal achievements is healed by real or fictitious achievements of one's group. That's why so many people have an urgent desire for membership in some group.

That and societal convention greatly reinforces group membership while it will spurn individual achievement.
1.8 / 5 (6) Feb 10, 2010
no, we have no obligation moral or otherwise to infest other worlds with the destructive virus that we call "human beings" - or any other earth based life forms for that do so would be IMMORAL and UNETHICAL...
3 / 5 (2) Feb 10, 2010
no, we have no obligation moral or otherwise to infest other worlds with the destructive virus that we call "human beings" - or any other earth based life forms for that do so would be IMMORAL and UNETHICAL...

If you're that down on the species you could always do the world a favor and remove one from existence, but you probably don't have the stones to follow through on that conviction either.
4 / 5 (3) Feb 10, 2010
I find it very sad how many people here label human pride as "racist", "arrogant" and "speciesism".
It's like calling an artist "an arrogant jerk" because he is proud of his creation.
Why is everyone such a misanthrope? Did the media brain-washed you so far that you see every humanbeing as a virus? Even your family? *facepalm*
It's really sad how unthankful people are of all the cultural and scientific achievements of humanity. You take computers, literature, art, fridges, bikes etc. as "an everyday routine" without thinking about the beautiful complexity of such things. *sighs*
I'm VERY thankful for all the archievements. And I'm PROUD to be human.

And for all the mysanthropic people with the "Who cares?!"-mentality: you are big-mouthed egoists, seriously. I can't stand such people.
I DO care about the future generation (including my children).

4 / 5 (5) Feb 10, 2010
Pride implies a feeling of superiority (i.e. you are proud to be X but not Y). Therein lies the problem. Why not just skip the pridefulness? It doesn't do any good - only harm.

If you need to boost your ego somehow or alleviate a feeling of inferiority then try to achieve stuff yourself or _for_ others. Don't take credit for stuff that others do just because you are in the same group.

Feeling good because of what you have accomplished - understandable. Tke credit where credit is due but not beyond that.
Feeling good because of what others have accomplished? I don't get it.
4.8 / 5 (4) Feb 10, 2010
Part 1

Do you know that our bodies are clusters of billions of micro-organisms? Now to think of the "Global-mind"-theory:
Cities look like spreading cells and car-filled streets look like blood vessels. Now add modern communication (Internet) as nerve cells and you have an emerging Super-Organism.
And before people start to talk such things like "humankind is a virus - ask Agent Smith" I would like to point out that he is right and wrong at the same time. We are all viruses - just like every animal and plant. Life itself is a virus but that doesn't have to be a bad thing because not every virus is harmful.

And for all those pseudo-environmentalists who are against the spreading of terrestial life in the universe (because it could disturb the "harmony"):
do you have any idea how freakin' big the universe is? How much room we have to spread? The nearest solar system "Alpha Centaury" is 4 lightyears (!) away and the lenght of our galaxy is ca. 100.000 lightyears (!!!).
5 / 5 (3) Feb 10, 2010
Part 2
Besides why should we leave everything as it is? The world is chaning anyway - we life in a dynamic universe and not in a static one.
5 / 5 (2) Feb 10, 2010

No, it's a cultural problem, imho plus the "white guilt". Of course we shouldn't exaggerate - extremism is never good. But the kind of positive feeling about humankind is never wrong.

If you want to know - I'm studying art and design.
In my oppinion even the "average Joes"-kind of people are very important to drive humanity forward. Just think about it: there are people who can't draw - but they are fantastic singers. There are people who fail in maths - but they are fantastic hairdressers. There are people who aren't sportsmen but they are fantastic mechanicans.
Everyone is doing something (mostly unintentional) to drive humanity forward. Of course there are people such as criminals and the corrupted kinds - but the world was never flawless and life still exists.
*sighs* I don't know how to explain that (since my english knowledge is limited *laughs*) but I hope you understand what I mean.
1 / 5 (2) Feb 10, 2010
I sense a troll...
3 / 5 (3) Feb 10, 2010
I say there is no "moral imperitive to plant the seed of life elsewhere", shouldnt we worry about things on our own planet first before we try to emplant life on other planets.
3.4 / 5 (5) Feb 10, 2010
You and I - judging from your vocabulary - come from the same country. We, of all people, should know from our history books what danger lies in being proud of what you _are_ instead of what you _do_.

It is sad to see that you (and many others here) have not learned that lesson. It seems that it must be taught repeatedly with blood, suffering and the horror of genocide for each generation to understand.

Given that we become ever better at snuffing out life on ever greater scales I fear there are not too many such lessons left before we cause our own, total extinction.

Either all humans learn the lesson of pride or all humans die at the hands of those who failed to do so.

This has nothing to do with 'god' (I'm an atheist). This is just history talking in a very loud and clear voice.
5 / 5 (3) Feb 11, 2010
Are people jerks because they are proud of their country? Are people jerks because they are proud of their children?
Do you know that none of all inventions (computers, space shuttles etc.) would be ever possible if people wouldn't work together? If people wouldn't pay taxes to finance such inventions and programs?
Do you think one inventor could build a space station? You have to distinguish "people with heads" from "people with hands" and both types of people are important. If everyone would be on their own -
it would be impossible for inventors and great minds to realise their projects without people who can finance and build it. We would still live in caves.

But fine. Go ahead. Be all emo about humanity.
I guess it must be "trendy" these days to hate ourselves. (See: the Emo subculture)
5 / 5 (3) Feb 11, 2010
I'm agnostic, btw. And sometimes I hate those hardcore-Atheists as well as I hate creationists and other religious fundamentalists who don't tolerate the oppinions and worldviews of others.
not rated yet Feb 11, 2010
Here is an interesting video. Maybe it will change your thinking - maybe not. It's just a suggestion.

5 / 5 (3) Feb 11, 2010
Quote: "It is sad to see that you (and many others here) have not learned that lesson. It seems that it must be taught repeatedly with blood, suffering and the horror of genocide for each generation to understand."

Somebody seems to have the butthurt-and-emo-syndrome.
Just like people who still call all Germans nazis, thought the post-WW generation doesn't have anything to do with Hitler's bloody regime and disturbing racial fantasies. And most Germans I know are very tolerant. But they are very reluctant about national pride today (See Wikipedia "Pride" in Germany http://en.wikiped.../Pride). But you should have seen Germans during the soccer worldchampionship 2006 - it was one of the rare times where Germans felt something like a national pride. I'm not a German (actually, I'm Polish). I just wanted to point out that pride doesn't equal racism and arrogance. (maybe it's not a very good example but I hope you understand what I mean)
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 11, 2010
Just like people who still call all Germans nazis, thought the post-WW generation doesn't have anything to do with Hitler's bloody regime and disturbing racial fantasies.

True. But the mistakes people make are the same. Look at the US. You see 'pride in this' and 'pride in that' all over the place. Flag waving. Disrespect of other cultures in forign policies. It all seems terribly familiar.

Then look at what that pride does on the global scale. It's people are _dying_ because of that pride in large numbers.

Sports is a pretty harmless subject to be proud of (frankly I didn't feel proud of my germany's team because _I didn't play for it_. So why would I feel proud of _their_ accomplishments? I felt happy for them. But pride? No.)

However, pride in a country is not harmless.

Pride is not a necessity for doing great deeds. Inventors don't work 'for humanity'. They work for their _own_ vision.
3 / 5 (2) Feb 11, 2010
Getting back to the article: The point of seeding the universe is, for us, to go out there - not for us to dump random 'biological weapons' on random planets.

Given that we are likely to invent slightly better engines tnan we currently have in the next million year or so we are then certain to overtake any seeds we send out now before they even reach their destination. So what's the point of sending them right now?

Then we might consider what our biological bombs would do to life that already exists at the destination. Simple life will have to compete for the resources (and either our sample will die out or the indigenous organisms will die out or they will go into an evolutionary arms race). If the planets doesn't have life then our organisms are unlikely to find it hospitable. aynways.

Intelligent life might view it as a biological weapon. Not a good way to make first contact (and since it's easy to track back such probes the preps - us - are easily spotted for retaliation)
3 / 5 (2) Feb 11, 2010
This chemist is a fantastic swindler!!! Look at this: Pay me a billion dollars and I will launch a bunch of crap in to space. Seriously, it'll work -- I Promise! The money?? Don't worry about the money; this is a moral obligation! What's a billion dollars in comparison with doing the 'right' thing? Oh brother... I hope this isn't paid for with my taxes.
1.5 / 5 (2) Feb 11, 2010
One can be proud of what he or his group have accomplished without rejecting new opinions or change.

I just don`t see the point in it. Being proud of what other people did? Why? Whom does it help? Does it help you? Does it help others? No. It's a pointless activity.

Being proud of what _you_ did - sure, I can see that (though even that is pretty pointless. You did it. It's done. Why be proud of it?)

Pride doesn't add to the qulaity of what you did. Pride doesn't add to the quality of life (it just makes proud people seem like snobs)
Pride doesn't help in integrating people because it creates a group mentality.

Avoid it. It makes you a better human being.
1.2 / 5 (5) Feb 12, 2010
Anyone interested in this should see my posts on the physorg furums about how to see human life on distant planets (eventually.)

Sending "living" adult human colonists to distant planets is unlikely to be possible with any technology within the next several thousand years.

however, terraforming a planet and re-constructing all DNA-based life from a computer archives using an incredibly advanced probe and incredibly advanced nanotechnology likely WILL be possible within a few hundred years.

The idea was to archive all DNA and as well the entire molecular structure of gametes for complex life, and cells for all single-celled organisms, then have the probe and it's nanorobots reconstruct life "from scratch" once it arrives at the destination.

This way, you avoid the need for "life support" entirely, AND the probe can run entirely on solar power, since it can safely drift as essentially a rock in interstallar space until it comes in range of the target star...
5 / 5 (2) Feb 12, 2010
I'm not sure we can engineer something that will be functional a million years (or even a thousand) after it has been launched. Space is pretty hostile and high energy radiation abounds. Even with large shielding any sort of electronics (or basically any structured material) will degrade over time. And the flight times at sub-relativistic speeds are rather long.
1.3 / 5 (6) Feb 12, 2010
I am prepared to donate some of my awesomeness to the cause.
Feb 13, 2010
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1 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2010
some facts can be annoying...

at least according to the big bang
and guess what, this is totally UNAVOIDABLE !

It's better to look under your feet before falling in an early-extinction manhole !
5 / 5 (1) Feb 14, 2010
I see this entire discourse as the reason we shouldn't.
5 / 5 (1) Feb 15, 2010
I see this entire discourse as the reason we shouldn't.

On the contrary. An intergalactic debate is the only real way to resolve this debate.
5 / 5 (1) Feb 16, 2010
I have long thought people have made this issue way too complicated. I saw a guy on tv last night who actually caught a box jelley fish. He took off a tentacle and dropped him back into the water! These jelleyfish are small and almost invisible in the water. They kill lots of people! There are MANY more jelleyfish species that do not kill people or are more noticeable in the water. Are we so smart that we kill ourselves to save one of tens of thousands of species?
Do we think it bad to send life to a place that MIGHT already contain life???
We have a few scientists who want to spend their life looking for life in another part of the universe. They don't want us to mess up their studies. That is the only thing holding us back from doing this! The idea that "our" life would "infect" other planets is ludicrous! On a scale of 1 to 10, that concern is a 2 or 3. Getting life to other planets is a 10.
Their purposes are not highminded or intellectual. Their goal is to keep their grubby jobs.
5 / 5 (2) Feb 16, 2010
And how would you feel if one of such 'random life bombs' from another species came here and started taking over our ecosystem (e.g. by out-performing all earthbound lifeforms - including humans)? Would you really like that? Or would you say that the aliens shouldn't have done that?

Blindly shooting random life samples into the universe could seriously piss someone off. This is especially foolish if you don't know who you're shooting at. Let's make sure no one is there before we chuck some bacteria at a rock, OK?

Additionally seeding the universe (at the cost of indigenous life) creates 'same-old, same-old' everywhere instead of giving us the chance to discover new and exciting lifeforms.

Yes, you can bulldoze this planet and seed corn everywhere since you don't seem to like biodiversity. But do you think that that is truly an enlightened way to go about things?
2.5 / 5 (2) Feb 16, 2010
And how would you feel if one of such 'random life bombs' from another species came here and started taking over our ecosystem ?

Blindly shooting random life samples into the universe could seriously piss someone off.

discover new and exciting lifeforms.

you don't seem to like biodiversity.

Some people believe too much science-fiction. If aliens were really flying around our galactic neighborhood, I am (almost) sure we would know it. The truth is, most life if it exists, would most likely be single-celled or like trees. They wouldn't "know" the difference. Dead animals don't move and are thus easier to study.
I am not for killing off any species that isn't a threat to ours. Even many of those can be managed, but cmon. Truth is: if we meet another civilization it will be difficult not to be in competition with them at some point. One of us will likely relegate the other to "cow" or "dog" status at the very least, no matter how enlightened or careful we are.
3 / 5 (2) Feb 16, 2010
We need to be very careful not to ruin the chance to learn as much as we can. What we learn from other lifeforms might eventually save our own species some day. Knowledge is the most important thing we possess and the only thing which protects us in a hostile universe.

Some would say love, or enjoyment of life are more important than knowledge.

Many people take for granted that we have the time or ability to become "God-like" in our enlightenment. I say we have neither. We are no smarter than people were 3,000 years ago (or very little). All we have is more knowledge/technology.
Also, with the rate of change in society/tech, it is very difficult to say when we might kill ourselves off. I am not a pessimist at heart, but the math tells me that eventually someone will pull a trigger that could quickly knock us back a century or two at least. Imagine a few e-bombs knocking out all current electronics. Yikes!
Time is of the essence.
3 / 5 (2) Feb 16, 2010
Who in their right mind thinks that evolution and survival of the fittest would only happen on earth. If there is a thinking society out there other than our own, why would we think that they do not have ways of fighting off "microbes". If they are capable of attacking us, then they are likely able to fight off our microbes. Surely they have been to other planets with other life forms that they have had to deal with. It should be old hat.
Not that I believe there are a bunch of aliens out there waiting to get sick from us. I am just saying that this argument is stupid when you think about it a little.
It is much more likely that they would feed off our life and send us a message: "Send more yummy food!"
(No, I do not really expect this to happen either.)
3 / 5 (2) Feb 16, 2010
No aliens are out there watching us, just waiting to see when we will "grow up" as a society. Again, turn off the tv, and use your own brain for a change. If aliens were flying around in our neighborhood, I am sure if they found earth, they would find it interesting, and would maybe fly down for a look-see. We would have a breif conflict, and we would die or they would leave. It is not likely that they would fly around in our atmosphere just trying to get on tv.
All those tv scenarios are just way too unlikely.
5 / 5 (1) Feb 16, 2010
If aliens were really flying around our galactic neighborhood, I am (almost) sure we would know it.

No. We are barely able to catalog rocks within our solar system that are larger than a kilometer in diameter, fairly reflective and stay still for long periods of time so that we can gather enough light from them. A UFO less than a kilometer in size that is moving at an appreciable speed? No way we'd be able to spot that.

Some would say love, or enjoyment of life are more important than knowledge.

I dunno. Seems like knowledge can save you from threat. Love and enjoyment don't. Looking through history knowledge has a far better track record at ensuring survival of 'life'. So I'd say it's the more important factor here.
3 / 5 (1) Feb 16, 2010
If aliens were really flying around our galactic neighborhood, I am (almost) sure we would know it.

No. We are barely able to catalog rocks within our solar system that are larger than a kilometer in diameter, fairly reflective and stay still for long periods of time so that we can gather enough light from them. A UFO less than a kilometer in size that is moving at an appreciable speed? No way we'd be able to spot that.

I am just saying that if they are whizzing by earth to study us, then they aren't going to be playing hide and seek, and they will not look for Roswell, they will not likely have two legs, two arms, a head with two eyes in "front" and two ears on the side, a mouth, a nose, a neck, etc.
5 / 5 (1) Feb 16, 2010
Why shouldn't they hide?
If they make themselves known they will spoil the object of observation (if you go to watch the typical behaviour of lower animals then you always take care to do it in a way that they don't notice you. That's basically the first rule of wildlife observation.)

Why do you think they need to get close? _We_ can take pictures of _planets_ in other solar systems. If they can fly through space they could probably sit on Pluto and watch what you have for breakfast or use small probes (heck, we can almost construct e-dust. What makes you think they can't?)
3 / 5 (1) Feb 17, 2010
Some would say love, or enjoyment of life are more important than knowledge.

Ignorance is bliss, until the bliss is broken by something you don't understand.
3 / 5 (2) Feb 19, 2010
This is absurd. We've already established ourselves on a path that will lead us to become "roadkill" on the evolutionary highway from "Animal" to "Machine", within the next 20 years or so. Come the Singularity, our meatbag existence will be Obsolete. We wont be around long enough to seed Venus, let alone planets around other stars. Leave it to the machines that succeed us to go contaminate the universe with our toxic residue. If you see value in biological life, you need to preserve it here, on Earth, in the immediate future, before machine intelligence realizes that we'd make better 'food' (as computronium) than 'companionship', as either its masters or servants...
Mar 09, 2010
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