|Dr. Richard Hoover at the Ice Cave of the Schirmacher Oasis, Antarctica--February 2009.|
That's not a typo in my title. Dr. Richard Hoover has two honorary Ph.D.'s, so I like to call him "Dr. Dr." (I just read a blog article where a commenter was apparently criticizing Dr. Hoover's credentials.)
I met Dr. Hoover when I was an eighteen-year-old undergraduate at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. I saw him give a presentation on the possibility of meteorites and comets spreading life throughout the cosmos, and it literally changed the direction of my life.
Dr. Hoover is the single most influential scientist I have ever met. He has been thinking "outside the box" for longer than I have been alive. He should be considered a national treasure by any standards, and the fact that he has an honorary Ph.D. from the U.S. and Europe should shed some light on the far-reaching implications of his work.
Life probably did not start on this planet. Get used to it, folks! Once I heard Dr. Hoover say, "The Earth is not a closed ecosystem." We are constantly being bombarded by materials that mostly get burned up as they fall through our atmosphere, but many particles (and sometimes much larger objects) actually make contact with the Earth's surface. Astrobiologists like Dr. Hoover do research to determine how long microbes might be able to travel through space in a dormant state, and whether or not they could survive the heat and forces generated during a crash-landing onto a planetary surface. From everything I have seen, the general findings are a resounding "YES - it is quite possible that life could travel via meteorites and comets from one part of the galaxy to another and survive."
I have been a big fan of Dr. Hoover since I met him in 1996. I am glad his work is finally being acknowledged by a broader audience in the U.S. (He has had near rock-star status in Europe for some time now.)
Here is the link to one of Dr. Hoover's many excellent papers: