In August 1881 the journal “Science” and the German Otto Hahn- discussing the possibility of extraterrestrial life. Just some years earlier Darwin had published a book “On Origin of Species” proposing that complex life forms descended slowly over time from simple ones, however as earth seemed to be too young (based on the erroneous calculations of a certain physicist known today as Lord Kelvin) to explain the observed modern complexity, the origin of microorganisms in space (which existence would predate the formation of earth) could solve this apparent contradiction.
Life from outer space was not a new idea. Already in 1865 the German physician Hermann Eberhard Richter argued that life was an intrinsic property of the cosmos, transported in space on smaller rocky fragments, dormant microorganism could act like seed, evolving in short time into complex organisms after the host-rock impacted on a suitable planet.
Otto Hahn (1828-1904) was a former lawyer turned to amateur naturalist and geologist, with a special interest in the origin of life. Hahn was known by the scientific community due his research on Eozoön or Eozoon (the “dawn animal”) – an enigmatic Archaean fossil described in 1864 from Canadian limestone-formations – believed to be some sort of gigantic microorganism it predated all other known fossil organisms. However it seemed strange that already the oldest life form would be a highly evolved animal and Hahn himself doubted that it was even a fossil. In 1880, after carful investigation of some collected rock samples, Hahn changed his mind and reclassified Eozoön as an ancient algae, renaming the fossil Eophyllum (“dawn plant”).
Fig.1. Eozoon specimen, the regular lamination were interpretated as chambers of a shelled organism or growth lines, image from DAWSON (1888): The Chain of Life in Geological Time (image in public domain). However in 1894 similar rocks were found in material erupted by Mount Vesuvius, proving that this texture formed by inorganic processes due the alteration of limestone by heat from underground magma.
After this achievement, Hahn suddenly started to find fossils of primitive organisms in all sorts of rocks, not only in sedimentary rocks, but also ancient, partially melted, metamorphic rocks and even igneous rocks like granite or basalt, completely crystallized from the molten magma. He published his observations in a 1879 book entitled “Die Urzelle” – the primordial cell, arguing that in fact all observable rocks were of some sort of sedimentary origin, composed by the shells of these tiny primordial, yet unidentified, microorganisms – and send one copy also to Charles Darwin, inviting him to promote this revolutionary discovery.What does hsi stand for? What does bjj mean? What does furry mean in lgbtq? What do roses mean? How to get better at drawing people tips? What gives life meaning philosophy? What is adult swim? Tobacco free campus quick tips when targeting a campus hotspot? How to solve sudoku? What is the meaning of round character in literature? How to find my ring size? 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