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Extraterrestrial Seed

Earlier this month, NASA announced the discovery of DNA components in a meteorite. On We Beasties, Heather Olins writes that “while claims of meteorites containing DNA components have been made before, they may very well have been terrestrial contamination. This seems to be different, because the meteorite also contains similar molecules that are never found in biological matter.” Specifically, the meteorite contains the nucleobase analogues purine, 2,6-diaminopurine, and 6,8-diaminopurine, leading Claire L. Evans to revisit the ancient concept of panspermia on Universe. Panspermia holds that the seeds of life are scattered throughout the universe, and not endemic to the blooming planet Earth. Anaxagoras, the Greek philosopher, coined the idea, and along with more recent adherents was more or less maligned by mainstream thinkers. But Claire asks, “Why is panspermia—the notion that life exists throughout the Universe, distributed by meteoroids, asteroids and planetoids—any stranger than a touch from the Heavens, or a spontaneous spark in the primordial stew?” The Earth may be an oasis—but no desert goes on forever.