Sometimes to really keep up with the crazy innovations coming from NASA, you have to read between the lines. Buried in a fairly routine NASA press release outlining the most recent grants the agency has awarded is this stinker: "Synthetic Biology for Recycling Human Waste into Food, Nutraceuticals, and Materials: Closing the Loop for Long-Term Space Travel."
You read that right. NASA is actually giving $200,000 to Dr. Mark Blenner of Clemson University to figure out a way to make it healthy for astronauts to, basically, eat their own poop. The stated goal of the grants are to "provid[e] the means to produce food, medical supplies and building materials on site at distant destinations using synthetic, biology-based approaches."
So, the project is definitely in the ballpark of what NASA is going for... but do we really want to innovate to that level? Maybe we should think before we take away one of the few behavioral rungs that keep us above our monkey cousins. Oh well. That's science.
Brett Williams is an editorial assistant at Supercompressor. He's not ready for this level of innovation.
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