Steve Jackson Games - Site Navigation
Home General Info Follow Us Search Illuminator Store Forums What's New Other Games Ogre GURPS Munchkin Our Games: Home

Go Back   Steve Jackson Games Forums > Roleplaying > GURPS

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 05-17-2014, 01:07 AM   #1
scc
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Default [Space] Panspermia and the Campgaign

OK, in a campaign setting I'm working on for a Space game involving a single multi-star system I'm planning on using Panspermia as an explanation for why there are so many habitable plants.

This neatly solves two problems: Why are all these planets inhabitable and why can they interact with them (In other words why can we eat the plants and animals that evolved there)

But from the look of things there might be a few problems with that. While Bacteria, fungi and other single celled lifeforms. But what about slightly bigger lifeforms, could plant seeds have made interplanetary or borderline interstellar trips clinging to the side of a meteorite?

And the big one: If I assume the planet that humanity evolved on is the one where life first arose on, the planet closest to that, at a mere 1.28 AU, has a high chance of have sentient or near-sentient life. What do people think are the chances of that happening? And what are the odds that people realize it before things are too late? And is any sort of communication possible?
scc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-17-2014, 03:08 AM   #2
Flyndaran
Untagged
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Forest Grove, Beaverton, Oregon
Default Re: [Space] Panspermia and the Campgaign

Magic 8 ball: Answer hazy, ask again later.

We have one world known to have life. And only one intelligent species on that world in the past 4.54 billion years. We can't know much other than it seems that human level sapience is damn unlikely.
__________________
Beware, poor communication skills. No offense intended. If offended, it just means that I failed my writing skill check.
Flyndaran is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-17-2014, 03:10 AM   #3
Flyndaran
Untagged
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Forest Grove, Beaverton, Oregon
Default Re: [Space] Panspermia and the Campgaign

Panspermia seems a bit silly. Unless you expand it to include simple amino acid seeding by meteorites.
But for a setting, you can just hand wave it with the law of really big numbers. After enough material exchanges eventually one will contain viable life.
__________________
Beware, poor communication skills. No offense intended. If offended, it just means that I failed my writing skill check.
Flyndaran is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-17-2014, 04:01 AM   #4
scc
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Default Re: [Space] Panspermia and the Campgaign

I'm pretty sure that there was a rock found from Mars that showed signs of carrying bacteria, that turned out to have come from Earth to begin with (The rock went from Earth, to Mars and then back again) so it's possible
scc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-17-2014, 04:59 AM   #5
Nereidalbel
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Ellicott City, MD
Default Re: [Space] Panspermia and the Campgaign

Planets being habitable is not explained be panspermia; that's just being the right distance from the parent star. As for being able to eat plants on other worlds, that's just luck. Billions of years of evolution are more than enough to create large differences, as well as planets having differing chemical compositions.
Nereidalbel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-17-2014, 05:40 AM   #6
scc
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Default Re: [Space] Panspermia and the Campgaign

It being in the right temperature zone means the planet has the POTENIAL to support life. It also has to be big enough to retain the right elements and an atmosphere. Once those criteria are meet an interesting paradox arises, life begets life, in basic terms you need the first beginnings of life to kickstart the entire thing to higher and higher levels. In simple terms if you kill off all the trees on Earth, it will soon be life less
scc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-17-2014, 06:06 AM   #7
malloyd
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Default Re: [Space] Panspermia and the Campgaign

Quote:
Originally Posted by scc View Post
But from the look of things there might be a few problems with that. While Bacteria, fungi and other single celled lifeforms. But what about slightly bigger lifeforms, could plant seeds have made interplanetary or borderline interstellar trips clinging to the side of a meteorite?
Likely not, they'd burn off during reentry. They'd need to be inside the meteorite to have a chance. Which doesn't seem a whole lot less likely than the bacteria I suppose. Does it matter? Unless you have time travelers go back and look, or I suppose happen to turn up the records of the terraformers, you are never going to be *certain* where the life on any world came from.

Quote:
And the big one: If I assume the planet that humanity evolved on is the one where life first arose on, the planet closest to that, at a mere 1.28 AU, has a high chance of have sentient or near-sentient life. What do people think are the chances of that happening?
We have no idea - the problem of extrapolating from a tiny sample. Once we have managed to look for life on more than two worlds, and found at least one more biosphere, we might be able to say something that wasn't a pretty much a guess. The lack of any evidence of a second sentient species evolving here on Earth at some point in it's history suggests the odds aren't wildly in favor of it, but really they could be anything from several percent per geologic period to, well, anything down to just above zero.

Quote:
And what are the odds that people realize it before things are too late? And is any sort of communication possible?
With something genuinely intelligent, it's probably fairly obvious and some level of communication is just about certain, eventually. Near-sentient it's much harder to say, not least because that's an even harder to define concept. Again, does it matter? You are never going to get universal agreement - small sample size is against you again. Pick whichever one makes the campaign premise work better.
__________________
--
MA Lloyd
malloyd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-17-2014, 08:26 AM   #8
aesir23
 
aesir23's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: China
Default Re: [Space] Panspermia and the Campgaign

Quote:
Originally Posted by scc View Post
But from the look of things there might be a few problems with that. While Bacteria, fungi and other single celled lifeforms. But what about slightly bigger lifeforms, could plant seeds have made interplanetary or borderline interstellar trips clinging to the side of a meteorite?
One solution to this is to simply decide that there's an unknown mechanism by which certain patterns of evolution repeat themselves.

e.g. on every planet, some strands of the original extremophile bacteria (that have seeded so many planets) tend to evolve into photosynthetic plant life--whenever that happens, animals evolve to take advantage of the oxygen surplus and the potential food source represented by the autotrophs.

This is hand-wavy, of course, and ignores the random nature of natural selection, but it would explain why there's edible plant life where ever you go without having to posit seeds that survive the trip through space.

I would even suggest that the extremophile bacteria (likely the first life-form) evolved on a comet, and was spread to other comets and planets by collisions.
aesir23 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-17-2014, 08:47 AM   #9
Nereidalbel
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Ellicott City, MD
Default Re: [Space] Panspermia and the Campgaign

If your star system has some ice ball planets and/or moons at the outer reaches, life could evolve in the oceans underneath icy crusts, and occasionally be thrown out into space via geysers. I mean, there has to be a reason tardigrades can survive floating around in space and such...

Also, if any microbial life could go dormant and float around in space for a period of time without needing to hitch a ride on an asteroid or comet, they could feasibly float into an atmosphere without being roasted.
Nereidalbel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-17-2014, 09:03 AM   #10
thrash
 
thrash's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: traveller
Default Re: [Space] Panspermia and the Campgaign

Quote:
Originally Posted by scc View Post
I'm pretty sure that there was a rock found from Mars that showed signs of carrying bacteria, that turned out to have come from Earth to begin with (The rock went from Earth, to Mars and then back again) so it's possible
Do you have a cite for that? I just finished a graduate level class in meteorites, and ALH84001 has unequivocal Martian isotope ratios, not terrestrial. The 'fossils' are controversial, not the origin.

Panspermia would most likely work on the scale of bacteria and other single-celled organisms, not more complex life. The result would be ecosystems descended from the same progenitors, but not necessarily more closely related than, say, humans and the tube worms that live in black smokers on mid-ocean ridges.

Last edited by thrash; 05-17-2014 at 09:10 AM.
thrash is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
evolution, space, system generation

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Fnords are Off
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 11:50 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.