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panspermia theory lithopanspermia ballistic panspermiaDuring the 1830s Swedish chemist Jöns Jacob Berzelius confirmed that carbon compounds were found in certain meteorites "fallen from the heavens". Berzelius' finding contributed to theories propounded by later thinkers including the physician H.E. Richter and physicist Lord Kelvin (William Thomson) (1824–1907). Lord Kelvin declared in 1871, "[W]e must regard it as probable in the highest degree that there are countless seed-bearing meteoric stones moving about through space. If at the present instance no life existed upon this earth, one such stone falling upon it might, by what we blindly call natural causes, lead to its becoming covered with vegetation."

But it was the Swedish chemist and 1903 Nobel Prize winner, Svante Arrhenius, who popularized the concept of life originating from space in 1908. His theory was based on the notion that radiation pressure from the Sun and other stars "blew" microbes about like tiny solar sails, and not as the result of finding carbon compounds in stony meteorites.

Stephen Hawking - How Did Life Begin?

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