Self-replicating Solar Factories
In our last two threads on green energy, it was proposed that we seed the Moon with self-replicating solar factories. Is anyone seriously attempting to do this? There was the NASA study in 1981, and a more recent (very technical) study in 2004.
Of course, Earth is full of self-replicating solar factories. They’re known as plants.
Consider an orchid, such as the Phalaenopsis I’m growing from the local grocer; it subsists on ice cubes. A stalk with three boring leaves, I thought it would be done after the blossoms fell. But surprise, it sent out two shoots each of which developed three huge buds, oddly asymmetrical. Over two weeks, the buds swelled, and you could see faint patterns of spots underneath the outer greenish sepals. Then one day, over the course of the day the sepals opened into a perfectly formed flower, complete with the little pink pedestal for the insect it needs to pollinate. A self-replicating factory for orchid flowers.
If anyone thinks Earth needs yet one more good reason to save its biosphere, surely an orchid is one. Nowhere else in the universe is there an entity that makes something as amazing as an orchid flower.
At the same time, the orchid reminds us that a couple of ice cubes a week can sustain a solar replicator. What other examples from biology could give us clues for future sustainable technology?