Superfluous were the Sun
When Excellence be dead (999)
Until recently, when I visited the Star Trek commemorative exhibit at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, I had never seen a single Star Trek episode.For ten minutes, indolent curiosity, nostalgia for the 1970s, and the crowds at my back induced me to watch it: very United Statesian and very dated.I was struck by its silliness. The lack of plants, the machinate landscape, and in the starship, the absence of all nonhuman life-forms seemed bizarre. Humans, if someday they trek in giant spaceships to other planets, will not be alone. In space as on Earth, the elements of life, carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, sulfur, and phosphorus and a few others, must recycle.This recycling is no suburban luxury; it is a principle of life from which no technology can deliver us. Human voyages into deep space require ecosystems composed of many nonhuman organisms to recycle waste into food. Only very short stints in constant contact with mother Earth are possible in the absence of "ecosystem services."
An ecosystem is the smallest unit that recycles the biologically important elements. Carbon dioxide is "fixed," chemi