Richter, Hermann Ebehard (1808-1876)

Hermann Richter was a German physician who worked at Dresden and was among the first to argue the case for panspermia from a scientific standpoint. He was influenced by Flammarion's popularization of the idea in the 1864 edition of his book, "The Plurality of Inhabited Worlds" which, in turn, derived from a suggestion by Berzelius. In 1865, Richter pointed out that not all meteors which enter Earth's atmosphere necessarily fall to the ground as meteorites. Some might approach at such a glancing angle that they penetrated only part way through the atmosphere before bouncing off again into space. During their encounter, Richter surmised, such meteors might pick up living cells from the air and then carry them away, possibly to deliver them, in time, to the surface of another world. The possibility of lithopanspermia on a grander scale was later envisaged both by William Thomson (Lord Kelvin) and Hermann von Helmholtz.