David Munns (NYC/München): The Alga-tron and the Aqua-Hamster

Engineering Models of Closed Ecosystems to Live In Space

08.02.2018 16:00 Uhr – 18:00 Uhr

wann: Donnerstag, 8. Februar 2018, 16-18 Uhr

wo: Historicum, Schellingstr. 12, Raum K026

Vortrag im Rahmen des Oberseminars "Perspektiven der Wissenschaftsgeschichte"

"In 2016, NASA announced the “poop challenge,” just the most recent attempt to understand the problem of plumbing in space; a rich, long, and varied history that seemingly tried everything from alga-trons to aqua-hamsters. In both the Russian and American space programs, the overarching aim was to create artificial, ecological habitats for space stations, trips to Mars, and even generational journeys to other stars. In this talk, I shall show how it was engineers, not ecologists, that discovered major insights into the working of whole living environments. Notably, in those early space habitat experiments one major discovery was that self-sustaining ecosystem must incorporate humans themselves as a functional component alongside an array of other living things. A generation later back on Earth humanity realized it had entered the Anthropocene, a period where human lives and societies are increasingly fundamentally altering the very climate and geology of Earth, and consequently looked to ecologists to answer questions. In fact, it was the engineers and life scientists of the space programs who appreciated just how interconnected people were with their environment; in space, humans always were in the Anthropocene." - David Munns.

precirculated paper available, please email your request to: wg@lrz.uni-muenchen.de