To change the fate of an object by reacting it with other objects. Typically, the other objects are sparks from spaceships or oscillators, or are eaters or impacting spaceships. Perturbations are typically done to turn a dirty reaction into a clean one, or to change the products of a reaction. In many desirable cases the perturbing objects are not destroyed by the reaction, or else are easily replenished.
Source Life Lexicon