Seeds of Future Agriculture Enter Doomsday Deep Freeze
Scientific American Feb. 26, 2008
The first batch of 100 million of
the most important agricultural
seeds were placed into the “doomsday
repository” Svalbard Global Seed
Vault in Norway. The vault is a
backup of last resort, stocked with
copies of different crops from
national seed storage facilities. In
cold isolation the seeds can keep
for hundreds and thousands of…
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The Encyclopedia of Life, No Bookshelf Required
New York Times Feb. 26, 2008
Scientists are building a Web site
called the Encyclopedia of Life,
dedicated to documenting all species
on Earth. Spearheaded by Harvard
biologist Edward O. Wilson with $50
million initial funding, the first
30,000 pages will be introduced on
Thursday this week. Within a decade,
they predict, they will have the
other 1.77 million….
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Mankind’s secrets kept in lunar ark
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/u ... 511818.ece
From The Sunday Times
March 9, 2008
IF civilisation is wiped out on Earth, salvation may come from space. Plans
are being drawn up for a “Doomsday ark” on the moon containing the
essentials of life and civilisation, to be activated in the event of earth
being devastated by a giant asteroid or nuclear war.
Construction of a lunar information bank, discussed at a conference in
Strasbourg last month, would provide survivors on Earth with a remote-access toolkit to rebuild the human race.
A basic version of the ark would contain hard discs holding information such as DNA sequences and instructions for metal smelting or planting crops. It would be buried in a vault just under the lunar surface and transmitters would send the data to heavily protected receivers on earth. If no receivers survived, the ark would continue transmitting the information until new ones could be built.
The vault could later be extended to include natural material including
microbes, animal embryos and plant seeds and even cultural relics such as surplus items from museum stores.
As a first step to discovering whether living organisms could survive,
European Space Agency scientists are hoping to experiment with growing
tulips on the moon within the next decade.
According to Bernard Foing, chief scientist at the agency’s research
department, the first flowers - tulips or arabidopsis, a plant widely used
in research - could be grown in 2012 or 2015.
“Eventually, it will be necessary to have a kind of Noah’s ark there, a
diversity of species from the biosphere,” said Foing.
Tulips are ideal because they can be frozen, transported long distances and grown with little nourishment. Combined with algae, an enclosed artificial atmosphere and chemically enhanced lunar soil, they could form the basis of an ecosystem.
The first experiments would be carried out in transparent biospheres
containing a mix of gases to mimic the earth’s atmosphere. Carbon dioxide given off by the decomposing plants would be mopped up by the algae, which would generate oxygen through photosynthesis.
The databank would initially be run by robots and linked to earth by radio
transmissions. Scientists hope to put a manned station on the moon before
the end of the century.
The databank would need to be buried under rock to protect it from the
extreme temperatures, radiation and vacuum on the moon. It would be run partly on solar power. The scientists envisage placing the first
experimental databank on the moon no later than 2020 and it could have a lifespan of 30 years. The full archive would be launched by 2035.
The information would be held in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian
and Spanish and would be linked by transmitter to 4,000 “Earth repositories” that would provide shelter, food, a water supply for survivors.
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