Thursday, September 16, 2010

New Humans

“Altering man's bodily functions to meet the requirements of extraterrestrial environments would be more logical than providing an earthly environment for him in space."  This is from an article by Manfred Clynes and Nathan Kline titled “Cyborgs and Space” which was published in 1960.  Today's article on discusses the possible necessity for humans to change their physiology to be better adapted for life beyond Earth.  

When we finally do begin colonizing the rest of our solar system, and possibly beyond, we may have to change our biological bodies.  Supplementing human physiology with technology and drugs or possibly genetically engineering space-adapted or planet-adapted humans may be the best means for allowing humanity to flourish in the universe beyond our ancestral grounds, even if it seems as though we're broadening the definition of humanity to include more than just one variant or even species. 

The human body cannot thrive in space for more than a short moment of time.  We need space suits to help us.  Our bodies are fragile and cannot handle very much strain outside of our normal operative condition.  Imagine if a type of human existed who could respire on the surface of Mars with only a regulator and who could handle extremely low pressure environments.  What if a breed of people were around who were composed of tissues interlaced on a biomechanical frame and supported by a mechanical exoskeleton?  Perhaps their respiration could be controlled in many different environments.  Perhaps they could survive in the vacuum of space.  I wonder if we may end up needing to engineer a human type that can handle large doses of radiation so that they can survive long duration trips beyond our solar system.  

Humanity is awesome!  What we have is special (at least, it is to us).  We have conscious lives, intelligent minds, and the ability to imagine.  We can imagine many possible futures.  We can imagine a future where different types of humans are living their lives beyond Earth.  But will we allow this to become a future any time soon?