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Radiosynthesis - living on radioactive decay energy
The more I think about this the deeper its implications get. We're talking about lifeforms that can literally live for millions of years inside a rock. That's long enough to make some kinds of panspermia theories quite viable. The scenario where life started on Mars and then somehow spread to Earth now has a viable vehicle. Having arrived on a world where the environment is hellishly different from that where it came from, our little radiosynthetic organisms just. don't. care. They can live for millions more years inside their rock on the new world. Adapting to conditions closer to the surface of the rock is something that can take a leisurely pace, with enough time for evolution to actually work. Try something like that with one of us fast-metabolism critters that depends much more closely on surface conditions, and we'd just die with no time to evolve and adapt.

If you're a terraformer and taking a "long view" of things, you have a readymade organism to seed almost any world with. Establish a colony of deep radiosynthetic organisms, and from that moment onward every time the planet's surface is compatible with any kind of life based on that basic biochemistry, one-celled organisms will, within a million years, start appearing on the surface. And billions of years later other organisms, with more conventional metabolisms and brains, that require an entire ecology just to exist, will wonder how abiogenesis actually happened on their world.

And your 'seeds' can take a long time in transit. It is a self-contained ecology that can exist, inside a rock drifting through interstellar space, nourished by cosmic rays and secondary radiation from being hitt by high-speed particles. Just pack 'em up with some long-lived isotope so they don't drift toward absolute zero, and off they go. Maybe in a billion years one of your seeds figures out how to be an orwood tree.

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RE: Radiosynthesis - living on radioactive decay energy - by Bear - 05-25-2021, 11:31 AM

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