Worlds of David Darling
Encyclopedia of Science
   
Home > Encyclopedia of Science

Michicanpanspermia:


Room for the Inside-Out Galactic Chia Pet®



Richard Brook Cathcart
GEOGRAPHOS
1300 West Olive Avenue
Suite M
Burbank, California 91506-2225
USA

(818) 953-9113

e-mail Richard Cathcart
about Richard Cathcart



Abstract

We advance the vision entailed by biological human artworks into the foreseeable future. Selected living cultures, enclosed by spherically-shaped hollow concrete globe spin-off artwork artifacts that function as viable biota incubator/time capsule spore interstellar space vehicles, may become a means for humans to industrialize their nascent panspermic efforts. Anthropogenic rock enclosures contrived to seed extrasolar planets, such envisioned instrumentalities may become deliberately-directed anachronistic "talking tombstone" things revealing our form of life as one-way only spoor-like communication with aliens. Our vision is not an instance of bravura astrobiology.


I. Introduction

Pneumatic structures are emblematic of continuous change in our world and the Universe surrounding humanity. The rapidity of Earth-biosphere change has made public and private conservatories vital bulwarks in the ongoing human effort to preserve plant biodiversity. Some biologists claim Earth's life is at a global geological turning point, that it has now become impossible to conserve some planetary ecosystems. Public sensitivity to this apparent planetary biosphere turning point is evidenced by recent authoritative rejection of an artwork's creation without any obvious official misoneism. At Santa Ana, California, the renowned Bubble artist Fan Yang intended to surround a 39-year-old, 4013 kg female Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), Tai, within a gigantic soapy orb for 5–10 seconds at the Discovery Science Center's 15 March 2008 annual "Bubblefest". The controversial stunt was cancelled after vociferous and persistent public complaint about the soap-bubble science show's unscientific and possibly cruel planned demonstration. (Without complaining public outcry, the artist had already placed 8 to 30 adult persons on two occasions inside single soap bubbles in Santa Ana, California on 7 April 2004 and 12 April 2006, respectively. Such odd community acquiesce is indicative, possibly, of ever-changing, sometimes contradictory and even chaotic, Green-inspired economic and political sociological imagined realities. On a "...mass-specific basis bacteria metabolize at rates similar to those of much larger organisms, including the largest animals inhabiting the biosphere..." such as, for example, healthy Asian elephants.1) Celebrated for their general as well as their specific-task memorizing abilities, for us elephants are truly symbolic of life's universal problem of retaining and communicating accurate information about the world and Universe.

A bubble-shaped artificial Earth satellite, Vanguard I, launched successfully on 17 March 1958 is the oldest human-made manufactured object in orbit; the still incomplete International Space Station, at USD 100 billions cost so far, is the most expensive outer space macro-object ever built by our species since the commencement of our Space Age on 4 October 1957. As of 25 June 2008 Earth was surrounded by 12,851 catalogued payloads, rocket bodies and debris. Nowadays, living and breathing human space-farers must anticipate an increasing spacecraft and spacesuit integrity threat caused by accumulating and fracturing space debris; some spationauts rocketed into outer space may not always be literary geniuses but all of them must be vigilantly litter-wary! The aggregation, shattering and spread (above the dynamic Earth-biosphere) of damaged, heavily discounted, distressed or sub-specification satellites, satellite pieces, various frozen fluids and damaged rocket parts is all affected by fluctuating space weather during Solar Cycle 24. The absolute destiny of more than 5 × 106 kg of orbiting material is unknown because the mass is inherently unstable, subject to known and unpredictable changes with time's passage, use, value and even to some extent function; strictly speaking, it cannot yet be called true "junk" because that label implies that it has some potential human retrievability and later re-use value. (Scheduled now to be launched in 2009 or 2010, the 100 kg, 80 cm-diameter hollow bubble-shaped Earth-orbiting KEO satellite, carrying 100 DVD discs and a diamond case enclosing a drop of Homo sapiens blood as well as samples of Earth's air, seawater and soil is slated to safely re-enter the Earth-biosphere, bobbing on the ocean for a long period of time or stably sitting on land, some 500 centuries hence at least. KEO might be dubbed a rudimentary physicalization of the "resurrection paradigm" espoused by some biodiversity specialists.)

Some famous physical material space probes exiting our Solar System (Voyager 1 and 2, Pioneer 10 and 11) were designed to perform as human-revealing spoor for probe-intercepting aliens. These macro-artifacts may carry dormant but still viable biota even though it was never the human probe launcher's intention to make possible an extra-Earth "astroinfect effect". Skilled and observant alien trackers, possibly, could deduce and spatially project from where the spoor-littered trail created by these drifting non-functional and technical material and parts-shedding machines likely originated. Any mindless invasive biota aboard the interstellar Voyager spacecraft 40,000 to 200,000 years hence, if Homo sapiens then no longer existed or retrogressed intellectually, or the Earth had been destroyed by some natural/unnatural catastrophe, would then have the status of homeless wanderers. The practiced human art of tracking living and mechanical things that move in the Earth-biosphere may have been the very first implementation of Science during humankind's cultural development. It can, therefore, be supposed logically that mobile alien spationauts, untainted by misoneism, will follow a similar course of biological-intellectual cultural attainment.

Coherent powerful energies generated and comprehensively broadcast in a widespread manner – sometimes such broadcasts are collimated beams aimed at specific places in our Earth's sky – since the invention of radio, television and radar, traveling at light-speed, will announce (or has already) humankind's presence to all attentive Aliens equipped with appropriate detectors and recorders. For humans, radar astronomy will increase in usefulness because of its obvious indispensable employment in assessing the true asteroid hazard to the human-dominated life-confining Earth-biosphere. There is a quantitative and qualitative uncertainty of risk to humans associated with energetic broadcasts that may be apprehended by aliens and this risk is preliminarily categorized and rated by the San Marino Scale.

Since it remains possible there may be Alien spationauts with tendencies for interstellar predation, it could be a wise human-alien theoretical social relational policy to be rather silent on the subject of capital goods and homely comestibles. Still, because of the indiscrete Doritos Broadcast Project – a 30 second-duration television advertisement for a corn chip snack brand deliberately transmitted on 15 June 2008 to a solar system in the constellation Ursa Major – the subject of crunchy food has already been "let out the bag"! Actual interstellar trade between humans and aliens is a very unlikely potential commercial economic development, no matter how long the timeframe imagined, because of the great interstellar distances of space separating solar systems. However, since we surmise that alien macro-artifacts may be encountered eventually, it is also presumable that aliens will indulge in some form of archaeology focused primarily on non-living human-made debris.


II. Biotic artworks and beyond

Extraterrestrial space exploration is the greatest voyage of discovery ever undertaken by Homo sapiens. Artists have been at the forefront of interplanetary and interstellar space exploration since the start of our species' Space Age. Lowry Burgess's Boundless Cubic Lunar Aperture, launched into Earth orbit by the USA during 1989, was the very first officially-sanctioned non-scientific payload ever put into outer space. "Payload", in common parlance, is "carrying capacity", a measure of how much X an inanimate Y could transport. With regard to humans exclusively, this concept is profoundly over-applied to the extant Earth-biosphere as the idea of "ecological footprint". Green philosophers too often employ this vague, almost pseudoscientific concept – related to "Nature's Balance" mythology – in their somewhat popularly publicized repetitive pleas for "sustainable development", which was more than a decade ago amusingly and trenchantly dismissed as an inescapable self-contradiction. The Earth-biosphere will certainly be degraded more as all remaining wildlife habitat, free-flowing freshwater sources and breathable air is hastily, and rather unwisely we think, dedicated to human civilization's cropped land-and-freshwater appropriation to sustain the biofuels craze. In fact, we may now be courting a planetary "ecocide" event-process as bad as the befouling fossil fuel use trap because of the popularity of the concept. It would seem the "Green Revolution" of the 1970s, that produced more food for people and their herds of domesticated livestock, simply established the pre-conditions for the ongoing biofuels developing ecosystem-state social group lunacy. What is even more bizarre is that a different Green route to energy is being developed that is unburdened by such drawbacks!

While science may provide an interesting intellectual framework for art, both rational and irrational Art pieces can arouse and express human scientific intuition. A remarkable visual reminder that Art is central to the Earth can be illustrated by obscuring the first and last letters of "Earth". Some geoscientists postulate Earth's life may have commenced in, and first flourished on, moist clay deposits or may have finally landed on the Earth after descending to the planet from the Universe, the space of which is a proven cryogenic habitat for microbial life. In other words, nowadays, Earth is a complex globular Solar System "maternal figurine" inhabited by plant and animal life in a thin shell-shaped planet-covering "biosphere".

The technical culture of life's cells – known/unknown and named/unnamed – redefines "biological" as life becomes disembodied and widely distributed on celestial bodies and in universal space and time. Artworks composed mainly or wholly of biotic displays are ever more commonly encountered in ateliers, art galleries, and (avant-garde modern) art museums. Stephen Wilson's Information Arts: Intersections of Art, Sscience, and Technology (2002) tastefully touts the 21st century art-driving concept that genetic engineering's R&D permits astute artists to freely create artworks that are original, unique and endlessly reproducible and, furthermore, that near-term future life-based artworks may stem from the results of continually progressing commercial Bioengineering. Wilson’s conclusion is a significantly large step beyond the previous quintessential basic summary provided by surgeon-art connoisseur Leonard Shlain's Art & Physics: Parallel Visions in Space, Time, and Light (1991). Guillermo A. Lemarchand and J. Lomberg pioneered the inclusion of "aesthetic principles" into focused human intellectual and technical efforts to evaluate various strategies promoting ongoing and future interstellar contact efforts.2

An unusual panspermic3 astrobiology viewpoint is here recounted, asserting that known life, chiefly in the form of sack-like living biotic artworks (cells) may become a significant near-term future means of proliferating and spreading our planet's particular life forms throughout adjacent interstellar space; such artworks would break out of the biosphere-sack to which our kind of life was totally restricted until 1957.4 For example, Zbigniew Oksiuta's imagined, still-on-the-drawing-board artwork Space Garden (2002) daringly proposed an air-filled hollow globe, fashioned of biological polymers cast above our planet in outer space, functioning as a bioreactor housing transgenic Earth plant experiments.5 Tomas Saraceno proposed his similar concept of a Flying Garden in 2006.6

Space polymerization using epoxy was pioneered by Alexey Kondyurin. Outer space mini-biospheres could be enclosed by polyethylene composites, such as RXF1 invented by Raj K. Kaul,7 that are strong enough to sheathe and protect spaceships from micrometeoroid impacts and ~15% of all impinging galactic cosmic radiation. By harnessing micro-gravitation, temperature variations, hard vacuum, UV and VUV irradiations, and cosmic rays, Oksiuta foresees that, eventually, and most probably during the 21st century, strains of DNA derived from Earthly plants and animals will be deliberately encapsulated in bioreactors to promote the autonomous development of new forms of life in outer space.

Some physical aspects of such remote and unattended gardening-like endeavor can be particularly conducive to independent evolution; for instance, spun-off SEEDS: Synergizing Earth's Evolutionary Development Spacewards (1997) by Arthur Woods and Space Garden are subject to space weather. Space plasma can kill macroscopic life and can mutate and nourish life yet it has been demonstrated that better-than-elephantine "... DNA memory technology utilizing living organisms is of much greater potential than any of the existing counterparts to render a service of inheriting data."8 Such corporeally encoded data can be preserved with insignificant corruption for hundreds to thousands of years! Oksiuta has no announced intention of reprising in outer space the seed-filled safe deposit vault near Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen, one of the Svalbard islands, that Norway's Global Crop Diversity Trust has operated from 26 February 2008 nor does he plan to repeat 1989–1999s "The Millennium Rock"9 (a chunk of dolerite expensively lifted to Earth orbit) public-relations stunt supposedly meant to honor Charles Darwin (1809–82).

Alien radio and neutrino delivered artwork diagrams have been "decoded" by some apparently very gifted human artists – for example, Jonathan Keats' The First Intergalactic Art Exposition (31 July 2006 to 14 January 2007 at the Magnes Gallery in San Francisco, California) and Tom Na H-iu exhibited at the 2006 Singapore Biennale by its creator, Mariko Mori. Other, strictly biological, artworks may already have been created specifically, and broadcast deliberately, by intelligent alien civilizations, extant as well as extinct, as the only realistic means to materially perpetuate every civilization’s independent cultural achievements within the enormous and violent Universe. (The only alien or human instrumentalist activity that could possibly use technology totally is material mass destruction. Is this why a few scientists and a tiny set of artists have openly speculated the Universe may have commenced with a "Big Bang" and might end with a "Big Crunch" initiated artificially?) This potentially productive facet of academic and popular Astrobiology has remained almost unexamined! For example, Michael A. G. Michaud's Contact with Alien Civilizations: Our Hopes and Fears About Encountering Extraterrestrials (2007) makes no reference to "art" or "artworks" whatsoever. Therefore, we suggest that studying such hitherto unexamined aspects of alien intelligent activity can become a useful widening of our present-day modest SETI-related efforts. In a sense, these detectable Milky Way Galaxy artistic things will talk as common spoor speaks to trained and artful human trackers.


III. Pre-Galactic Chia Pet® (Earth's biosphere)

In Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History (2004), David Christian alleged that physical and social gravity is the principal organizing force that converts chaos into ordered history. Christian's final chapter deals, in a futuristic manner, with outer space encompassing the known Earth-biosphere. However, regrettably, he neglects to elucidate any possible future for Earth's life and/or its changes over time therein. Some wise Europeans during the 19th century – notably the geoscientist Carl Bernhard von Cotta (1808–79) and the botanist Franz Unger (1800–70) – confidently predicted some forms of Earth's life might evolve to replace Homo sapiens as the dominant Earth-biosphere factor. At the beginning of the 20th century, the chemist Svante Arrheius (1859–1927) proposed the panspermia theory of life transfer from one world to another, which has been resurrected recently in the fervid context of contemporary astrobiology. A particularly speculative version of panspermia theory, initially proposed in 1973 by biologists Francis Crick (1916–2004) and Leslie E. Orgel (1927–2007) is the idea of "directed panspermia". Mankind's Space Age furnished people with certain data that 100 tonnes of material falls onto Earth daily and some of that may be biological. A small mass – probably >5 × 106 kg – has been removed to outer space or to the abiotic surfaces of other Solar System objects. It is possible >200,000 kg of human-designed and fabricated macro-artifacts rest on other planet's crusts and on several asteroids and even a comet (Tempel 1 since 4 July 2005). Geoscientists plan to introduce entirely Earth-sourced living organisms onto Mars to terraform the Red Planet, literally coloring it green with verdant plant growths.

Our biosphere has been a zone of extensive and intensive chemical activity for at least 3.5 × 109 years; its base is the planet's crust where it interfaces with the Earth-mantle and its cap is formed by the interface of Earth's so-called biota-free upper atmosphere with outer space. Micro-organism cells sent into the vacuum of outer space heat quickly by IR-spectrum sunlight up to ~400 K and then die when they explode. Tardigrades survived 10 days aboard the European Space Agency's FOTON-M3 mission during September 2007. Nevertheless, the Planetary Society and the Russian Federal Space Agency plan to launch ten organisms, during September 2010, aboard their mission to Mars' Phobos moon. Among the organism to be returned in 2012 are Hypsibius dujardini, Deinococcus radiodurans, and Arabidopsis thaliana. The biosphere is, indisputably and geophysically, a "greenhouse" increasingly under the influence of Homo sapiens through enhanced atmospheric effect, including unnatural lighting. So much so, currently, that leading fashion designers have created adaptive clothing tailored to the anthropogenic new global warming conditions imposed on human life that are not much different than proposed terraformed Mars counter-pressure suits and early American and Russian outer space suits, both present-day and future embodiments. Thus, obvious and scrutinized global climate change has become a professional métier for geoscientists and artists of various persuasions. In other words, by using technology, humans are expanding the volume of artificial climates generated for clothed individuals and structurally delicate built glasshouses. As macro-engineers, we have proposed Earth's complete enclosure with a plastic-concrete bubble dome costume. The extractive industries – fossil fuels, ores, and aggregates – have provided the fuels and other raw materials required causing global warming. The rapidity of climate change – with 15–20% thought to be caused by observed short-term changes in the Sun's activity – stimulates construction of plant conservatories to ensure biodiversity and continues to alter the distribution and intensity of outdoor photosynthesis worldwide. The CO2 gas exhaled by humans is ~0.6 gigatonnes per year, or about 12% fossil fuels combustion annually. Statistically, every year, every living human will inhale, approximately, three particles shed by a terminal meteoroid during its rapid flight in the atmosphere and there are many little-known organic materials that constitute our air. In other words, the biological identity and technologized culture of Homo sapiens occurs at a "terminal", in the Earth-biosphere: "terminal" can be both an ending and an interfacial place. Since some of those inhaled descended aerosols may be living, dormant or dead biota, an alien "interface" is a real and, so far, unacknowledged everyday happening!


IV. Bedrock science for Michanipanspermia

Built in the USA's mostly desert State of Arizona, Biosphere-2 was partly composed of concrete – in effect, that single type of concocted material (water, sand, aggregate and cement) was used to represent the many different life-nourishing materials comprising the Earth-crust! First occupied in 1991, by 1 July 2007, Biosphere-2 was leased to, and operated by, the University of Arizona, with some of the vacant land surrounding sold for USD 50 millions to CDO Ranching & Development LP, a residential subdivision home developer. Zbigniew Oksiuta, during 1995, received the "Award for German Architects" when his artistic focus was then solely on concrete architecture. At about the moment the Chia Pet®10 was first marketed in the USA during 1982, Richard Dawkins daydreamed in his The Extended Phenotype on the prospect of a Martian geoscientist trying to make sense of apprehended human life and technology. Our proposed slow moving spacecraft, the Galactic Space Garden as we have dubbed it for charm, will facilitate a directed michanipanspermia macro-project to move living organisms and a DNA record of our civilization through interstellar space and not just bombard targeted aliens with our distasteful popular culture (via radio and television transmissions) as Dawkins feared. An astrobiology guesstimate reveals that the total amount of life in a habitat with a finite duration in astronomical time, such as the Solar System, may be measured in terms of time-integrated biomass. Thus, the potential amount of life immediately surrounding our future main sequence Sun can be 1034 kg-years, largely exceeding the 1024 kg-years of Earth-biosphere life.

Will Earthlings, established in an influential 21st century grassroots organization, play a marked role in furthering the perfection of unmanned anthropokinetic directed biological artworks that leave our Solar System? Effectively, such macro-objects containing specially chosen life forms would become "talking tombstones" – far more complete than anything imagined and voiced in Gary Gumpert's Talking Tombstones and Other Tales of the Media Age (1987), which exposed some of the ways by which common human cultural values and universal human beliefs were then being altered by media technology innovations. Oddly, Robert Barrow's US Patent Application 200485337 for a flat LCD touch-screen installed within a hollow gravestone was not officially registered until seventeen years later.

In the past, the olden-times Greek myth of the Gorgons involved three winged female monsters one of whom had the power to convert people into stone merely with a glance.11 In today's English parlance, "to gorgonize" a person is to metaphorically petrify someone with an intimidating glare. Geoscientists continue to investigate the means to manufacture stone by the application of current and future technologies; some bold geoscientists, following the history of artificial stone making, have not been intimated by the looming macro-problem of providing a long-term technological fix to the build-up of carbon dioxide gas in the Earth-atmosphere. Solidification of a large fraction of the existing aerial CO2 via man-made carbonation reactions after direct extraction from the air has the potential to alleviate some unwanted climate change. Exportation of the greenhouse gas and water vapor from the Earth in the form of Zbigniew Oksiuta-inspired Galactic Space Garden mini-globes are a kind of mobile sack designed to hold things conveniently for transport. Traditionally, "sack" was the last word spoken at the Tower of Babel before the God-induced confusion of tongues.

For millennia humans dug and piled only natural rocks. Archaeologists have reported that artificial rock was made in ancient Mesopotamia, reputed site of the Tower of Babel. In the UK, Victorians were familiar with the interesting durable mock rock surface formations artistically shaped in urban public parks that were composed of Pulhamite and Coade Stone. The constancy of factory-made rocks – blended concretes called geopolymers – featured in the many attempts undertaken since circa 1945 to immobilize unwanted high-level radioactive wastes. At temperatures above 1000°C, geopolymers can polycondense like the organic polymers that fascinate Zbigniew Oksiuta, Raj J. Kaul and others; they are UV and IR resistant and in a pure composition could house living cells, a culture, which is a colony of cells grown on a nutrient medium under controlled conditions in an incubator. Typically a thin layer of jelly comprised of agar, sugar, water and other materials, provides basic food for the cells, nourishing the colony.

Thirty years ago, D. J. Sheppard proposed that a Sun-orbiting space settlement, even interplanetary and interstellar spacecraft ought to be formed exclusively of outer space-manufactured blended concrete.12 Sheppard understood that opaque concrete is rather inert and would not be too vulnerable to impinging space weather or atomic oxygen erosion in low Earth orbit (LEO); it can be made thin and flexible if glass micro-beads, latex, acrylic fortifiers are added to the basic mix of Portland cement and water. There is no good reason preventing this covering from be larded with biota nutrients too.13 Biologists and other scientists have already called, internationally, for government and private-sector funding of, and news-media stimulated public interest in, genetic engineering aimed at the creation of "living spacecraft". We honestly expect that improved geopolymer cements, with considerable translucency, may become an intentional source of stored nutrients for live organisms enclosed by a spherical Zbigniew Oksiuta-inspired Galactic Space Garden, almost a "maternal figurine" traveling in interstellar space, perhaps the ultimate inside-out version of an ordinary Chia Pet® in Earthly toy architecture.

Anthropogeneous lithogenesis is a historically new event-process within the Earth's biosphere. No thing in the Universe or our Solar System can last forever. But, manufactured rocks (concretes, ceramics and bricks) can endure for a long period of Earth's future geological time, unless the planet containing the only human-known examples of life is shattered by a comet or enormous asteroid collision. Concrete is the most used and familiar artificial rock worldwide – approximately 6 to 7 km3 are mixed and poured each year! (One of the main ingredients of Portland cement is limestone, an undeniable product of life.) Technogenic rock was first proposed by James Ross Underwood, Jr. as a fourth class of rock types – extending the commonly perceived igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary classification – at the turn of the 20th century. Underwood's practical instigative proposal for an "anthropic rock" category recognizes at last the pervading spread of humans and industrial products. His revelation comes not a minute too soon since the NASA and ESA workers have offered proposals for the use of in situ resources, such as brick and the stereolithographic creation of vast photovoltaic carpets, by coating spationauts settling the Moon and Mars in the future. Soon, artificial rock is likely to be generated in LEO via focused radio-waves. Underwood's timely theoretical innovation is a logical extension of the near-constant redefinition event-process that terms such as igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary have already undergone for several centuries because of science's progress. It is worth appreciating Norman Andrew Tiller's 7 September 1999 US Patent 5948474, "Bio-active Rock and Method for Making the Same," at least with hindsight.


V. Mobile vats of life

Ordinary people are coming to the conscious realization that their bodies are virtually planet-like, housing a bacterial biota. Some biologists have alleged that each person is actually only ~10% human – that is, each person's body is composed of 10 billion animal cells and a 100 billion bacteria, the latter constituting ~10% of the normal human body’s dry weight! Biologist Lynn Margulis speculates that if humans continue to exist for a few million years, it is possible that some of the bacteria now residing inside our bodies, such as micro-organisms that produce vitamin B12 in our intestines, may become integral parts of our own cells. Interestingly, plastics residues are ubiquitous in the Earth-biosphere and quite normally inside our bodies nowadays!

Astoundingly, the progress of biotechnology has brought Homo sapiens to instigate a larger effort designated "synthetic biology" – both astrobiology professionals and our world's public have been informed of its potential developmental social and economic impacts. Synthetic biology undertakes gene synthesis and/or constructing artificial DNA. Assigned on 31 May 2007 to the J. Craig Venter Institute Inc, US Patent Application 20070122826 for a "Minimal Bacterial Genome" has kick-started a new phase in biotechnology R&D. It may become possible quite soon for industrialized humankind to summon, possess and to widely utilize synthetic life at its perpetual beck and call. Perfection, supposing that is materially possible, and widespread employment of synthetic organisms will, probably, result in "artificial evolution".

Like the other outer space "time capsule" macro-projects, our Galactic Space Garden can be regarded as a form of insurance against the global catastrophic risks that may result in the destruction of our particular civilization and/or the Earth-biosphere. (Time Capsules are sealed deposits of cultural relics and recorded knowledge that are intended for retrieval at a selected future target date. The aforementioned KEO satellite best typifies this ultimate intention.) Either natural (asteroid impacts, super-volcanism) or anthropogenic (runaway Venus-like enhanced greenhouse effect, global nuclear winter) catastrophes may, at some moment in the geological time future, interrupt the evolution of exposed Earth life and human civilization, and a desire for as wide as possible human presence in outer space is at least partially motivated by the desire to preserve as much as possible of the biological and cultural diversity of our generally accepted planetary homeland from such common existential contingencies. The present Galactic Space Garden macro-project concept may, thus, serve an additional function as a repository for at least some of the important – however that may be determined – genomes of Earth's organisms; Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project in the USA, unabashedly asserts such biologically encoded data is The Language of God (2006).

Lofted into outer space from Earth's surface, nudged into a trajectory that permits escape from this Solar System, our speculated living and mutating biota-globes, the Galactic Space Garden, will convey genetically encoded messages to technologically advanced aliens and/or seed other star-orbiting corteges of sterilized or pre-biotic planets! Sadly, however, it is always possible some aliens may view and classify captured orbs as cosmic garbage or, worse, as a provocation akin to germ warfare! More probably, this may be construed as a form of open and well-intentioned long-range physical communication which, in contrast to long-distance electro-magnetic salty messaging ("Eat Tasty Doritos Now!"), leaves no doubt about the chemical and biological underpinnings of the sender (Homo sapiens civilization).


References cited

  1. A. M. Makarieva, V. G. Gorshkov and Bai-Lian Li, "Energetics of the smallest: do bacteria breathe at the same rate as whales?," Proceedings of the Royal Society B 272: 2219-2224 (2005).
  2. G. A. Lemarchand, "Counting on Beauty: The role of aesthetic, ethical and physical universal principles for interstellar contact," arxiv:0807.4518 posted 29 July 2008 at arxiv.org website.
  3. Charles S. Cockell, "The Interplanetary Exchange of Photosynthesis," Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres 38: 87-104 (2008).
  4. Simon Park, "The aesthetic microbe: ProkaryArt and EukaryArt," Microbiology Today (August 2007) pages 126-129.
  5. Zbigniew Oksiuta, "New Biological Habitats in the Biosphere and in Space," Leonardo 40: 122-123 (2007).
  6. Anon., "Tomas Saraceno: Tanya Bonakdar Gallery," Artform International 45: 263 (2006).
  7. Raj K. Kaul, "Thermal insulating coating for spacecrafts", US Patent 6939610 awarded 6 September 2005.
  8. Nozomu Yachie et al., "Alignment-Based Approach for Durable Data Storage into Living Organisms," Biotechnology Progress 23: 501-505 (2007).
  9. Phil Parker, "Millennium Rock Story," Spaceflight 41: 262 (1999).
  10. Still globally marketed by its originator, Joseph Enterprises Inc. of San Francisco, California, USA, the Chia Pet® marked its 25th Anniversary as a 1982-introduced product of commerce. The decorative fired pottery figurines serve as portable pedestals for the growth of a live herb (Salvia Columbariae) from a factory-applied seeded coating of gel-like plant nutrient material. Although the name was first used on 8 September 1977, and remains today a registered trademark, the famous "Animalia figurine" concept is legally protected by US Patent 5549500, awarded on 27 August 1996. Manufactured in variously styled shapes, the entertaining toy is an artwork certainly fully completed by plant life affixed to a machine-thrown and pottery-oven baked clay base.
  11. In Hollywood, California, USA, Universal Pictures issued during 1957 "The Monolith Monsters," a science-fiction equivalent of the ugly Gorgon of mythical fame with fallen meteorites as stand-in for the Gorgon.
  12. D. J. Sheppard, "Concrete Space Colonies," Spaceflight 21: 3-8 (1979).