Advisory Board

Professor Michael N. Mautner

The PhysOrg article Professor: We have a ‘moral obligation’ to seed universe with life said

Eventually, the day will come when life on Earth ends. Whether that’s tomorrow or five billion years from now, whether by nuclear war, climate change, or the Sun burning up its fuel, the last living cell on Earth will one day wither and die. But that doesn’t mean that all is lost. What if we had the chance to sow the seeds of terrestrial life throughout the universe, to settle young planets within developing solar systems many light-years away, and thus give our long evolutionary line the chance to continue indefinitely?
 
According to Michael Mautner, Research Professor of Chemistry at Virginia Commonwealth University, seeding the universe with life is not just an option, it’s our moral obligation. As members of this planet’s menagerie, and a consequence of nearly 4 billion years of evolution, humans have a purpose to propagate life. After all, whatever else life is, it necessarily possesses an incessant drive for self-perpetuation. And the idea isn’t just fantasy: Mautner says that “directed panspermia” missions can be accomplished with present technology.
 
“We have a moral obligation to plan for the propagation of life, and even the transfer of human life to other solar systems which can be transformed via microbial activity, thereby preparing these worlds to develop and sustain complex life,” Mautner explained to PhysOrg.com. “Securing that future for life can give our human existence a cosmic purpose.”

Michael N. Mautner, Ph.D. is Research Professor of Chemistry at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia; Adjunct Professor of Chemistry at University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand; and author of Seeding the Universe with Life: Securing Our Cosmological Future.
 
Michael is researching several Lifeboat Foundation-related subjects, including resources for life in space, directed panspermia, solar screens against greenhouse warming, and a lunar genebank for endangered species.
 
Michael earned his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Rockefeller University, New York, in 1975, where he also served as Associate Professor. He has also served as Research Chemist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
 
His research interests are mass spectrometry and ion chemistry with applications to biophysics and astrochemistry. In space science and astrobiology, his research deals with astroecology, biological space resources, directed panspermia, astroethics, and the future of life.
 
Michael is the author of over 160 research publications and book chapters in these fields. He authored Secrets of Star Island: What’s Hiding in a Space Colony?, A Constitution of Direct Democracy : Pure Democracy and the Governance of the Future ~ Locally and Globally, and Seeding the Universe with Life: Securing Our Cosmological Future. He authored the innovative Amazon downloads Engineering Earth’s climate from space, Will cloning end human evolution?, and Human values and technical advances.
 
His many scientific papers include Self-assembled vesicles of monocarboxylic acids and alcohols: conditions for stability and for the encapsulation of biopolymers, Meteorite organics in planetary environments: hydrothermal release, surface activity, and microbial utilization, Biological Potential of Extraterrestrial Materials, Water-extractable and exchangeable phosphate in Martian and carbonaceous chondrite meteorites and in planetary soil analogs, and Formation, Chemistry and Fertility of Extraterrestrial Soils: Cohesion, Water Adsorption and Surface Area of Carbonaceous Chondrite. Prebiotic and Space Resource Applications.
 
In 1995, he founded The International Panspermia Society – Society for Life in Space (SOLIS).