In a galaxy far, far way, and long, long ago, the first civilization known (to itself) advances past Level II on the Kardashev scale (yet is not to level III). They still have not found ANY evidence that life has evolved anywhere besides their planet.

Due to this, scientists are instructed by the head of their governments to create an equation that predicts every possible form of life. What they can be composed of (depending on the set of materials on the planet), and how to create them depending on those materials. Then they create automated space crafts, fill them with reprogrammed grey goo, and send the crafts across the universe to seed planets with life.

After 100 years, a cataclysmic event occurs, and destroys the species, but the spacecrafts go on to seed the universe with life so thoroughly, that modern-day aliens are left wondering "how could such a numerous and extreme diversity of life occur on nearly every planet?"

Is such a scenario feasible?

  • $\begingroup$ I'm not entirely sure that providing a comprehensive answer to this question is feasible — by which I mean that the required set of instructions wouldn't be describable as "basic" $\endgroup$
    – Toadfish
    Feb 19, 2016 at 9:48
  • $\begingroup$ I've edited the question to focus just on the feasibiltiy as the other part is not really answerable. Writing a nanobot swarm control protocol in a stack exchange answer is not possible. Try to think instead about what you are trying to achieve through the question and ask that as a separate question, don't forget that we have a question sandbox as well if you need help asking the right thing. $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Feb 19, 2016 at 10:02
  • $\begingroup$ meta.worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/635/… $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Feb 19, 2016 at 10:09
  • $\begingroup$ How is grey goo related to the life spreading task? $\endgroup$
    – enkryptor
    Feb 19, 2016 at 11:18
  • $\begingroup$ Just as a procedural note, Grey Goo is a terror product that maximizes entropy by breaking everything down to its component atoms. Programmable nanotech capable of building DNA and cellular structures for life may be theoretically possible, but would be orders of magnitude harder than creating grey goo. $\endgroup$
    – Thucydides
    Feb 19, 2016 at 11:42

2 Answers 2


What you are describing is theoretically possible. There would probably be robots in a mix of different sizes involved but they would land on a planet and begin harvesting local resources to make more of themselves. They would then seed the planet with basic life-forms adapted to the local environment, produce and launch many more versions of themselves, and then self destruct.

They would not be programmed with all possible forms of life (that would be impossible as the numbers are vast). Instead they would have procedural generation routines that are able to construct a basic life-form for the local conditions (think single celled organisms) and then release them to seed the planet with life.

Be aware that this sort of viral replication gets complicated if these seeders start running into each other and into already seeded planets. Particularly if there is a replication error and the objectives for the seeders starts to change.


Yes, and no. Tim covered the idea about basically starting life an a planet and letting it develop on it's own. Which is really all you could seriously do. Get some cultures growing in several ideal spots around the globe, then self destruct and let 'nature' take it's course.


We are talking HUGE number of resources to visit all the planets. In the Milky Way there are 100,000,000,000 and 400,000,000,000 stars. We are constantly learning that a significant portion of these stars have multiple planets orbiting them. One estimate puts it at ~100,000,000,000 planets out there.

That is not counting rogue planets just wondering around lost.

Now you need to having something travel between the stars, a not insignificant task, visit each planet to determine if one of their patterns could survive on this world and set about landing a seeding party. So you need to have a way for each ship to keep itself fueled and supplied with raw materials to make the grey goo, and the landing ships.

It also needs to decide which stars to visit, how to navigate etc. and be able to repair itself enough (or create duplicates of itself in each system it arrives at to exponentially increase their numbers to have a chance of visiting each planet in less than 5 billion years,at which point they can start over visiting new planets around new stars...

The scale of the task is truly astronomical.


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