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July 21, 2006

other tech: more common mechanism for transfering life to other solar systems

Magnetic fields and magnetospheric plasmoids could move electrically charged bacteria from one planet to another and even to another solar system The idea that microbes could be electrically levitated into the upper atmosphere was first suggested in 1908 by chemist Svante Arrhenius, but until recently there had been no direct measurements of the strength of electric fields high in the atmosphere to show whether the mechanism would work to propel microbes away from the planet.

Other researchers have already demonstrated that some bacterial spores can survive in conditions thought to exist in interplanetary space, and then be revived. So the possibility of interplanetary spread of life is plausible and deserves further investigation, Dehel believes.

Charged microbes could also be propelled outwards from a planet at high speed by “magnetospheric plasmoids” - independent structures of plasma and magnetic fields that can be swept away from the Earth’s magnetosphere. Hitching rides on these structures could accelerate microbes to speeds capable of taking them out of the solar system and on to the planets of other stars.

And because of the potential for a steady outflow of the particles pushed by the electric fields, a single life-bearing world might seed an entire galaxy with life, claims Dehel.

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