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Translator: Joseph Geni Reviewer: Joanna Pietrulewicz
For thousands of years, well, really probably millions of years,
our ancestors have looked up at the sky and wondered what's up there,
and they've also started to wonder,
hmm, could we be alone in this planet?
Now, I'm fortunate that I get to get paid to actually ask some of those questions,
and sort of bad news for you,
your tax dollars are paying me to try to answer some of those questions.
But then, about 10 years ago,
I was told, I mean asked,
if I would start to look at the technology to help get us off planet,
and so that's what I'm going to talk to you about today.
So playing to the local crowd,
this is what it looks like in your day-to-day life in Boston,
but as you start to go off planet, things look very, very different.
So there we are, hovering above the WGBH studios.
And here's a very famous picture of the Earthrise from the Moon,
and you can see the Earth starting to recede.
And then what I love is this picture
that was taken from the surface of Mars looking back at the Earth.
Can anyone find the Earth?
I'm going to help you out a little.
(Laughter)
Yeah.
The point of showing this is that when people start to go to Mars,
they're not going to be able to keep calling in
and be micromanaged the way people on a space station are.
They're going to have to be independent.
So even though they're up there,
there are going to be all sorts of things that they're going to need,
just like people on Earth need things like, oh, transportation,
life support, food, clothing and so on.
But unlike on Earth, they are also going to need oxygen.
They're going to have to deal with about a third of the gravity that we have here.
They're going to have to worry about habitats, power, heat, light
and radiation protection,
something that we don't actually worry about nearly as much on the Earth,
because we have this beautiful atmosphere and magnetosphere.
The problem with that is that we also have a lot of constraints.
So the biggest one for us is upmass,
and the number that I've used for years
is it costs about 10,000 dollars to launch a can of Coke into low Earth orbit.
The problem is, there you are with 10,000 dollars later,
and you're still in low Earth orbit.
You're not even at the Moon or Mars or anything else.
So you're going to have to try to figure out
how to keep the mass as low as possible so you don't have to launch it.
But on top of that cost issue with the mass,
you also have problems of storage
and flexibility and reliability.
You can't just get there and say, "Oops, I forgot to bring,"
because Amazon.com just does not deliver to Mars.
So you better be prepared.
So what is the solution for this?
And I'm going to propose to you for the rest of this talk
that the solution actually is life,
and when you start to look at life as a technology,
you realize, ah, that's it,
that's exactly what we needed.
This plant here, like every person here
and every one of your dogs and cats
and plants and so on,
all started as a single cell.
So imagine, you're starting as a very low upmass object
and then growing into something a good deal bigger.
Now, my hero Charles Darwin,
of course, reminds us that there's no such thing as a designer in biology,
but what if we now have the technology
to design biology,
maybe even design, oh, whole new life-forms
that can do things for us that we couldn't have imagined otherwise?
So years ago, I was asked to start to sell this program,
and while I was doing that,
I was put in front of a panel at NASA,
as you might sort of imagine,
a bunch of people in suits and white shirts and pencil protectors,
and I did this sort of crazy, wild,
"This is all the next great thing,"
and I thought they would be blown over,
and instead the chairman of the committee just looked at me straight in the eye,
and said, "So what's the big idea?"
So I was like, "OK, you want Star Trek?
We'll do Star Trek."
And so let me tell you what the big idea is.
We've used organisms to make biomaterials for years.
So here's a great picture taken outside of Glasgow,
and you can see lots of great biomaterials there.
There are trees that you could use to build houses.
There are sheep where you can get your wool from.
You could get leather from the sheep.
Just quickly glancing around the room, I'll bet there's no one in this room
that doesn't have some kind of animal or plant product on them,
some kind of biomaterial.
But you know what?
We're not going to take sheep and trees and stuff to Mars.
That's nuts, because of the upmass problem.
But we are going to take things like this.
This is Bacillus subtilis.
Those white dots that you see are spores.
This happens to be a bacterium that can form incredibly resistant spores,
and when I say incredibly resistant, they've proven themselves.
Bacillus subtilis spores have been flown on what was called LDEF,
Long Duration Exposure Facility, for almost six years
and some of them survived that in space.
Unbelievable, a lot better than any of us can do.
So why not just take the capabilities,
like to make wood or to make wool or spider silk or whatever,
and put them in Bacillus subtilis spores,
and take those with you off planet?
So what are you going to do when you're off planet?
Here's an iconic picture of Buzz Aldrin looking back at the Eagle
when he landed, oh, it was almost 50 years ago, on the surface of the Moon.
Now if you're going to go to the Moon for three days
and you're the first person to set foot,
yeah, you can live in a tin can,
but you wouldn't want to do that for, say, a year and a half.
So I did actually a calculation, being in California.
I looked at what the average size of a cell at Alcatraz is,
and I have news for you,
the volume in the Eagle there, in the Lunar Module,
was about the size of a cell at Alcatraz
if it were only five feet high.
So incredibly cramped living quarters.
You just can't ask a human to stay in there for long periods of time.
So why not take these biomaterials and make something?
So here's an image that a colleague of mine
who is an architect, Chris Maurer, has done of what we've been proposing,
and we'll get to the point
of why I've been standing up here holding something
that looks like a dried sandwich this whole lecture.
So we've proposed that the solution to the habitat problem on Mars
could just simply lie in a fungus.
So I'm now probably going to turn off everyone
from ever eating a mushroom again.
So let's talk about fungi for a second.
So you're probably familiar with this fruiting body of the fungus.
That's the mushroom.
But what we're interested in actually is what's beneath the surface there,
the mycelium,
which are these root hair-like structures
that are really the main part of the mushroom.
Well, it turns out you can take those --
there's a micrograph I did --
and you can put them in a mold
and give them a little food --
and it doesn't take much, you can grow these things on sawdust --
so this piece here was grown on sawdust,
and that mycelium then will fill that structure
to make something.
We've actually tried growing mycelium on Mars Simulant.
So no one's actually gone to the surface of Mars,
but this is a simulated surface of Mars,
and you can see those hair-like mycelia out there.
It's really amazing stuff.
How strong can you make these things?
Well, you know, I could give you numbers and tests and so on,
but I think that's probably the best way to describe it.
There's one of my students proving that you can do this.
To do this, then, you've got to figure out how to put it in context.
How's this actually going to happen?
I mean, this is a great idea, Lynn,
but how are you going to get from here to there?
So what we're saying is you grow up the mycelium in the lab, for example
and then you fill up a little structure, maybe a house-like structure that's tiny,
that is maybe a double-bagged sort of plastic thing, like an inflatable --
I sort of think L.L.Bean when I see this.
And then you put it in a rocket ship and you send it off to Mars.
Rocket lands,
you release the bag
and you add a little water,
and voila, you've got your habitat.
You know, how cool would that be?
And the beauty of that is you don't have to take something prebuilt.
And so our estimates are that we could save 90 percent of the mass
that NASA is currently proposing by taking up a big steel structure
if we actually grow it on site.
So let me give you another big idea.
What about digital information?
What's really interesting is you have a physical link to your parents
and they have a physical link to their parents, and so on,
all the way back to the origin of life.
You have never broken that continuum.
But the fact is that we can do that today.
So we have students every day in our labs --
students in Boston even do this --
that make up DNA sequences
and they hit the "send" button
and they send them to their local DNA synthesis company.
Now once you break that physical link
where you're sending it across town,
it doesn't matter if you're sending it across the Charles River
or if you're sending that information to Mars.
You've broken that physical link.
So then, once you're on Mars,
or across the river or wherever,
you can take that digital information,
synthesize the physical DNA,
put it maybe in another organism
and voila, you've got new capabilities there.
So again, you've broken that physical link. That's huge.
What about chemistry?
Biology does chemistry for us on Earth,
and again has for literally thousands of years.
I bet virtually everyone in this room has eaten something today
that has been made by biology doing chemistry.
Let me give you a big hint there.
What about another idea?
What about using DNA itself to make a wire?
Because again, we're trying to miniaturize everything.
DNA is really cheap.
Strawberries have a gazillion amount of DNA.
You know, you could take a strawberry with you, isolate the DNA,
and one of my students has figured out a way
to take DNA and tweak it a little bit
so that you can incorporate silver atoms in very specific places,
thus making an electrical wire.
How cool is that?
So while we're on the subject of metals,
we're going to need to use metals for things like integrated circuits.
Probably we're going to want it for some structures, and so on.
And things like integrated circuits ultimately go bad.
We could talk a lot about that, but I'm going to leave it at that,
that they do go bad,
and so where are you going to get those metals?
Yeah, you could try to mine them with heavy equipment,
but you get that upmass problem.
And I always tell people, the best way to find the metals for a new cell phone
is in a dead cell phone.
So what if you take biology
as the technology to get these metals out?
And how do you do this?
Well, take a look at the back of a vitamin bottle
and you'll get an idea of all the sorts of metals
that we actually use in our bodies.
So we have a lot of proteins as well as other organisms
that can actually specifically bind metals.
So what if we now take those proteins
and maybe attach them to this fungal mycelium
and make a filter so we can start to pull those metals out
in a very specific way without big mining equipment,
and, even better, we've actually got a proof of concept
where we've then taken those metals that we pulled out with proteins
and reprinted an integrated circuit using a plasma printer.
Again, how cool?
Electricity: I was asked by a head of one of the NASA centers
if you could ever take chemical energy and turn that into electrical energy.
Well, the great news is it's not just the electric eel that does it.
Everybody in this room who is still alive and functioning
is doing that.
Part of the food that you've eaten today
has gone to operate the nerve cells in your body.
But even other organisms, nonsentient ones,
are creating electric energy,
even bacteria.
Some bacteria are very good at making little wires.
So if we can harvest that ability
of turning chemical energy into electrical energy,
again, how cool would that be?
So here are some of the big ideas we talked about.
Let me try one more: life 2.0.
So for example, all of the sugars in our body are right-handed.
Why shouldn't we make an organism with left-handed sugars?
Why not make an organism that can do things that no organism can do today?
So organisms normally have evolved to live in very specific environments.
So here's this lion cub literally up a tree,
and I took a picture of him a bit later,
and he was a lot happier when he was down on the ground.
So organisms are designed for specific environments.
But what if you can go back to that idea of synthetic biology
and tweak 'em around?
So here is one of our favorite places in Yellowstone National Park.
This is Octopus Springs.
If you tilt your head a little bit,
it sort of looks like a body and tentacles coming out.
It's above the boiling temperature of water.
Those organisms that you see on the edge and the colors
actually match the temperatures that are there,
very, very high-temperature thermophiles.
So why not take organisms that can live at extremes,
whether it's high temperature or low temperature
or low pH or high pH
or high salt or high levels of radiation,
and take some of those capabilities
and put it into other organisms.
And this is a project that my students have called,
and I love this, the "hell cell."
And so we've done that.
We've taken organisms and sort of tweaked them and pushed them to the edges.
And this is important for getting us off planet
and also for understanding what life is like in the universe.
So let me give you just a couple of final thoughts.
First is this whole idea that we have all these needs
for human settlement off planet
that are in some ways exactly like we have on the Earth,
that we need the food and we need the shelter and so on,
but we have very, very different constraints
of this upmass problem and the reliability and the flexibility and so on.
But because we have these constraints that you don't have here,
where you might have to think about the indigenous petrochemical industry,
or whatever,
you now have constraints that have to unleash creativity.
And once you unleash this creativity because you have the new constraints,
you're forcing game-changing technological advances
that you wouldn't have gotten any other way.
Finally, we have to think a little bit,
is it a good idea to tinker around with life?
Well, the sort of easy answer to that is
that probably no one in the room keeps a wolf cub at home,
but you might have a puppy or a dog;
you probably didn't eat teosinte this summer, but you ate corn.
We have been doing genetic modification with organisms
for literally 10,000 or more years.
This is a different approach, but to say all of a sudden
humans should never touch an organism
is kinda silly
because we have that capability now
to do things that are far more beneficial for the planet Earth
and for life beyond that.
And so then the question is, should we?
And of course I feel that not only should we,
at least for getting off Earth,
but actually if we don't use synthetic biology,
we will never solve this upmass problem.
So once you think of life as a technology, you've got the solution.
And so, with that, I'd like to finish the way I always finish,
and say "ad astra," which means, "to the stars."
Thank you very much, Boston.
(Applause)
コツ:単語をクリックしてすぐ意味を調べられます!

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【TED】The living tech we need to support human life on other planets | Lynn Rothschild

52 タグ追加 保存
林宜悉 2019 年 7 月 23 日 に公開
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