Shooting/Shocking Peas re Panspermia

There are ‘pea shooters’  and there are ‘PEA SHOOTERS’.

A research team from The Dynamic Response Group of Cranfield University, UK (motto: ‘Out of darkness, light’), have employed one of their helium gas-guns to create what could well be the most powerful pea-shooter ever assembled. The device was able to shoot a projectile towards a cluster of fresh garden peas at around half a kilometre per second. Manganin gauges measured the impact – registering tremendous pressures of up to 0.3 Giga Pascals (more than 3000 times atmospheric pressure).

See: On the shock response of Pisum Sativum (a.k.a the Common Pea) (from the 17th Biennial International Conference of the APS Topical Group on Shock Compression of Condensed Matter, Volume 56, Number 6. SHOCK11 Meeting of The American Physical Society.)

The authors note that the results of the experiments may have implications for those who are interested the theory of Panspermia – as lead researcher Mr. James A Leighs explains on his webpage :

“These experiments are providing an insight in to whether or not living organic samples could survive some of the extreme conditions experienced during asteroid impact. Initial work is looking at plant seeds as models for the interplanetary transport of life.”


All attempts to germinate the shocked peas were unsuccessful.

 The research may have an impact on the  latest theories about Panspermia.

The most recent experiments , with smaller seeds Lepidium sativum (cress) find that they can survive up to 0.8 Giga Pascals.

“These results suggest it is unlikely that the plant seeds tested would be able to survive the extreme conditions on an asteroid during impact, but may be able to survive shock waves that would be generated from such collisions when existing on a planetary body.”