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远古生命之假想

What If Ancient Life Escaped Earth?

In 7.5 billion years,
在未来75亿年内
the Sun will expand and engulf our planet,
太阳会逐渐变大并吞噬地球
destroying all life as we know it.
毁掉我们已知的所有生物
Of course, a mass extinction on Earth
当然 这场地球上的大灭绝
could happen much sooner than that.
也许会来的更快
It might even be our fault.
甚至可能由人类一手造成
Sooner or later,
迟早
humans might have to leave Earth
人类也许会被迫离开地球
to find a new home.
去寻找新的家园
But while that might sound scary,
虽然听起来很可怕
not to mention impossible,
但不代表不会发生
“What?”
“什么?”
Some say it’s already been done, millions of years ago
据说 数百万年前 比人类弱小且智商低下的有机体
by organisms much smaller than us, and not nearly as smart.
就已经引起过一次物种灭绝的情况
This is What If
欢迎收看《自然无常》
and here’s what would happen If ancient life escaped from earth
假如古生物逃离地球 会发生什么?
Imagine that millions of years ago,
想象一下 数百万年前
a comet sailed through the outer atmosphere of Earth.
一颗彗星擦过地球大气层
The comet flew high enough to avoid burning up in the atmosphere,
彗星离的够远 没有引起大气层燃烧
but just low enough to pick up some extremely determined microbes.
但刚好带走些能在极端环境中生存的微生物
The stowaway microbes embedded themselves
这些“偷渡”的微生物将自己
deep within the pores of the speeding comet,
深藏在高速飞行的彗星孔隙中
sheltering themselves from the radiation of deep space.
以避免被太空中的辐射所伤
Eons later,
亿万年后
the comet crashed into a planet in another solar system.
这颗彗星跟另外一个太阳系上的行星相撞
And the surviving microbes began to grow in their new home.
彗星上幸存的微生物开始在该行星上繁衍
According to two astrophysicists at Harvard University,
来自哈佛大学的两位天体物理学家声称
this might actually have happened.
这有可能是真实发生过的
But if Earthly microbes did succeed
但假如地球微生物真的成功
in trading our planet for a new one,
找到了新的家园
does that mean that
那是否意味着
we could one day do the same?
有一天 我们也能做到?
Microbes are small in size, but huge in numbers.
微生物体形虽小 但数量巨大
The most recent estimates say that there are roughly one
最新统计表明
trillion different microbe species living on earth
地球上大约有一万亿种不同的微生物
And while we have yet to discover 99.999% of them,
还有99.999%的微生物有待发现
the microbes we do know are vital to our survival.
这些已知的微生物与人类的生存息息相关
At least 50% of the oxygen on earth
地球上至少50%的氧气
is produced by photosynthetic microorganisms
都是由光合微生物
like algae and cyanobacteria.
例如藻类和蓝细菌产生的
And before the evolution of plants,
在植物诞生之前
microbes were the only oxygen producers on Earth.
微生物是地球上唯一能生产氧气的生物
So, with that in mind, and
所以 考虑到
assuming humans would continue to rely on oxygen to survive,
人类依赖氧气才能生存
we might actually need microbes in space
想要在其他星球上生存下去
to support our lives on other planets.
我们也许离不开太空微生物
If the “Earthly microbes hitchhiking on a comet millions of years ago”
“地球微生物是数百万年前搭了彗星这辆便车来到地球上的”
theory is correct,
如果这个理论正确
then there could be another planet out there
那么宇宙中可能有另一个
with a habitat that’s similar to ours on Earth.
自然环境与地球相似的星球
Unfortunately, this “alternate Earth”
不巧的是 这颗“备用地球”
would be in another solar system.
存在于另一个太阳系
And humans have only traveled as far as the Moon.
而人类最远只能到达月球
The best way to test this theory
检验这一理论的最好方法是
would be to send microbes to Mars,
将微生物送到火星上
or other nearby “new Earth” candidates,
或送到跟“备用地球”接近的星球上
with the hope that they’d be able to foster an atmosphere we could live in.
希望这些微生物能创造出适合人类生存的环境
If the microbes we sent from Earth
如果我们从地球送过去的微生物
succeeded in creating an atmosphere like ours
成功造出跟地球相似的大气层
and laying the foundations of a food chain,
并为食物链的演化创造出基础条件
we’d have a much better chance of building a new future for ourselves.
我们就很有可能在未来创建新的家园
Unfortunately, it’s hard to predict how microorganisms will respond to be in space.
很遗憾 我们很难预测微生物在太空会进化成什么样
In some cases, bacteria can become less harmful,
在某些方面 细菌的危害会变小
but in other cases,
但在另一些方面
they can grow faster and become much more dangerous.
它们可能繁殖得更快 并变得十分危险
We don’t know how our microbes
我们不知道地球上的微生物
could affect any existing eco-systems on other planets.
会对其它星球的生态系统造成什么影响
They could become an invasive species
它们可能是入侵物种
that would drive the native life on other planets
给其它星球的原始生物
to the brink of extinction.
带来灭顶之灾
And it’s hard to say how the microbes we sent
而且也很难预测我们送到
would evolve on a new planet.
另一颗星球上的微生物会进化成什么样子
Sure, we might get some new plants on a new planet,
当然 这些微生物可能在另一颗星球上会进化成新的植物品种
but what kinds of plants?
但 是什么样的植物呢
There’s also the fear that
另一个可怕之处在于
if microbes can successfully planet-hop through space,
如果微生物能在新的星球存活
then Earth is equally at risk of being hurt by them.
那地球同样也会面临被它们破坏的风险
If alien microbes infected Earth,
如果外来微生物入侵了地球
it could lead to the development of new diseases that we couldn’t cure.
会导致无法治愈的新疾病蔓延开来
And without a cure to some unknown, untreatable alien epidemic
没有对应的治疗方案 这些无法治愈的外来疾病
that might suddenly appear on our planet,
就会瞬间席卷地球
we might be forced to leave our home world after all!
最终 人类将不得不离开家园
But before you start aggressively searching for a place to buy
但在开始积极搜索购买
NASA-approved space suits,
NASA核准太空服之前
you should know that we’re far from having a fully-developed theory
你要知道 我们对能穿越太空的微生物
on space-traveling microbes.
知之甚少
After all, we’re still learning things about the biology of our atmosphere,
毕竟 我们仍处于探索本土生物的阶段
which makes understanding how it might’ve been
从中我们了解到这些微生物
hundreds of millions of years ago
在亿万年前大概是以何种形式存在的
even more challenging.
在探索的过程中还会遇到更多困难
We also don’t know just how long
我们也不知道
even the most dedicated microbes could survive.
生命力最顽强的微生物能存活多久
We know that tardigrades, for example, can live for decades,
例如 我们知道缓步类动物有数十年的寿命
and they’re able to survive the harsh environment of space.
它们能够在极端的太空环境中存活
But can tardigrades or anything else live long enough
但缓步类动物或者其它微生物的寿命能否长到
to make it to an entirely different solar system?
能穿越到达另一个太阳系?
That remains to be seen.
还有待研究
Or, maybe not.
或是不可能实现
We don’t know exactly when humans might actually have to leave Earth,
我们不知道人类会在何时离开地球
but what if we knew the exact time Earth was going die?
但假如我们知道地球灭亡的准确时间呢?
Well, that’s a story for another WHAT IF.
当然 这是另一个《自然无常》要探讨的话题了

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视频概述

越是简单的生物,越能成就不平凡的梦想。微生物的旅行,会有结果吗?

听录译者

收集自网络

翻译译者

Nacy廖

审核员

审核员 V

视频来源

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpUGfvl27RM

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