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Alien life

Bioforming is the opposite conception to terraforming. While terraforming requires the transformation of a celestial body (planet or moon) into a place where humans and other Earth-like life forms can exist, bioforming requires to transform us and other Earth-like bioforms into something that can survive on an untransformed planet. An intermediary concept is terrabioforming.

Natural limits Edit

In space, planets and moons are far more different then Earth. Will humans ever adapt to these conditions? The human race is not so diverse than majority of animal and plant species. Also, humans are highly sophisticated organisms. It is far more easy to adapt inferior organisms (like bacteria, algae or worms) to a new environment than mammals and humans.

Adapted humans Edit

Humans have adapted to the environments found on Earth:

  • People around the Arctic Circle are more adapted to cold and you can see them taking a swim or a sunbath on the beach when temperatures are just above 10 degrees C [1].
  • Africans are more adapted to heat, but when temperature drops to 15 degrees C, you can see them wearing warm clothes [2].
  • People around the Arctic Circle are used to eat meat and animal fat, but when they move to a large town, where their diet will consist mainly of vegetables, they get anemia [3].
  • Europeans are most adapted for consuming milk, while Chinese people, where historically milk was not used for food, have a high percentage of lactose intolerance [4]. This is an adaptation made by the organisms of European people for their food regime.
  • People that remained around the contemned zone in Chernobyl seem to have adapted to a certain level of radiation [5].

Limits Edit

These adaptations might look impressive, but they are nothing compared to what animals can do. Each living creature adapts to its environment changes. Each generation will be more adapted. However, there are 3 important things that define how fast will a species adapt: the number of descendants per generation, the time between generations and the genetic pool. In case of humans, there is a small number of descendants per generation (even a few hundreds years ago, a family had an average of 6 children). Talking about the amount of time between generations, in case of humans, it usually is about 25 years. The genetic pool refers to how diverse is the DNA among the species. In case of humans, differences are not big, compared to animals. For example, humans have only 4 blood groups (and a few very rare ones), while animals have far more [6].

The human population is divided in 3 races and 3 sub-races, but all individuals have nearly the same height and look almost the same, the major difference is skin color. We cannot say the same for dogs, which are found in large numbers of different breeds, with various sizes and colors. The dogs have been domesticated by humans, so the dog is younger then the human. So, why are there so many differences among dogs, while humans look almost the same? The answer is: dogs have much more descendants (a healthy bitch can produce over 100 pups over its lifetime), they have shorter intervals between generations (around two years) and probably they came from wolves that had a larger genetic pool.

So, humans have a far smaller chance to naturally adapt to extreme environments. This will not be the same if we use genetic manipulation.

Genetic engineering Edit

Main article: Future races.

How far can we go with genetic engineering?

Near future Edit

As for today (2016), genetic manipulation has been successful in creating new plants and new animals. however, it is proven that it is far more easy to work with the DNA of bacteria and plants then with the DNA of animals. Also, it is more easy to work with the DNA found in inferior animals then with superior species. Since humans are at the top, the hardest challenge will be to transform humans.

With current technology, it looks possible to adapt humans to live in some extreme conditions:

  • Humans able to survive to extreme UV, X and cosmic radiation
  • Humans able to hibernate for long interstellar journeys
  • Symbiotic organisms, able to live with algae inside their body
  • Amphibious race (able to breath in water)
  • Chemical resistant races (high concentrations of carbon dioxide or heavy metals)
  • Races adapted to extreme hot and extreme cold
  • Desert races (reduced water loss)
  • Void races (adapted to low pressure, will get oxygen from a gel swallowed in lungs)
  • Cyborg-set races (adapted to more easily accept digital implants).

These races are adapted to extreme Earth-like environments and not for a new planet. Maybe it will be possible to make a humanoid to live on Mars, but still not on Titan, Venus, Mercury or Pluto.

Extreme races Edit

If we want to create a human race able to survive on an outer planet, we need to go to extreme changes. On Earth, we know about extremophiles, but still they are able to survive in certain conditions.

  1. Temperature for Earth-like living forms is between 0 and 100 degrees C. Bacteria spores can survive higher temperatures, but cannot grow or reproduce. Also, there are animals that hibernate below zero, but still they are in a dormant state. Some organisms can still grow or reproduce at temperatures below zero, because their body contains a natural anti-freezer or (in case of birds and mammals) because their own body produces heat. This limit is made by water's boiling and freezing point, as water is the solvent of all compounds found in a living cell. In theory, it is possible to develop life using another solvent: methane, ammonia, alcohol (for cooler environments), alkanes and even metals (for hotter environments). Nobody has created a microbe that uses another internal liquid then water, so creating a humanoid with a completely new type of biochemistry is beyond our understanding for the moment.
  2. Respiration is vital for all animals. Aerobic respiration means the transformation of food in water and carbon dioxide. Anaerobic respiration, on the other hand, is the oxidation that uses something else then oxygen. Some organisms use fermentation (partial transformation of organics into new molecules, like alcohol), generating far less energy then what would result in aerobic respiration. Some bacteria use sulfur, salts or metals. Anaerobic respiration might be a solution for a planet that lacks oxygen.
  3. Alternative to carbon will probably the ultimate challenge. Silicon is able to create complex molecules, but silicon atoms are more heavy and more inert. There are also metals that can create complex molecules. Creating a new biochemistry, based on new elements, will probably create new humanoid races able to live in places we never imagined, like Mercury, Venus, the asteroids or Pluto.
  4. Energy source is highly important. We will need to also create new types of plants and animals to provide food for future human races. Or, we might make future humans able to produce their own food. Some might be able to use solar or artificial light, some might be able to use chemicals found in rocks and atmosphere.
  5. Pressure found in the atmosphere of a new planet might vary from void to crushing values. On Earth, we see fish surviving on ocean floors and bacteria deep inside oil fields [7]. Bacteria can survive in void, but cannot grow or reproduce. This proves that future humans can adapt to extreme high pressures. To resist in cosmic void, it will be required a protective impermeable skin, able to keep a minimal internal pressure.

Conclusion Edit

Bioforming is not possible with current technology, nor in the near future. The subject is interesting and challenging. The highly adapted races might not look like humans and will be too different from us to adapt back to Earth-like environment.

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