Thursday, February 08, 2007

Should There Be An X-Prize For Biospheres? Authentic NASA Toys and Replicas

With all of the focus of NASA's Centennial Challenges on space elevators, lunar landers and oxygen rock extractors, we may have forgotten one critical "challenge" that needs to be overcome--biospheres.

(Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies) we have yet to create a closed ecosystem that can support human life for the long term. This revelation seems strange at first, but it's true. We can send men to the moon, but we can't sustain an artificial ecosystem. The fact that we haven’t been able to do so needs to be taken much more seriously. The Earth's natural biosphere is still the only functioning one we have; all our eggs are currently residing in one basket.

It's time to revive the biosphere projects of the early 1990s. Given the private sector’s recent enthusiasm to develop space tourism technologies, perhaps another X Prize is in order.

The sad fact of this matter is that there has never been a successful closed system biosphere. Without a way of developing a closed biosphere, humanity will indefinitely become dependent upon Earth for survival. Basic necessities such as veggies and meat (via animals) will have to be imported, thus limiting our survival scope within Earth's range, let alone outside of our star system.

A biosphere competition (in baby steps) may be the key towards developing these critical habitats, indicating that our species has "the right stuff" to live off world, and beyond.

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You can either visit the stars or watch them from afar.

But if you choose the former, you'll definitely get a better view.

~Darnell Clayton, 2007

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