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The year 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing by humans; a momentous occasion that stirred the imagination of the entire world. Too bad we never really followed up by extending our reach further. I remember thinking, as I watched Neil Armstrong leap about on the lunar surface, that we would have lunar colonies and be living on Mars in no time. Trips to the moon would be commonplace. Maybe we would even have a warp drive to travel to other solar systems, just like in Star Trek!

But maybe it's best that humans stay put on Earth. We aren't very good at taking care of the planet we have. Why take a chance on ruining the rest of the universe? We have tons of space junk orbiting the earth in less than 65 years of space adventure. The 6 times men went to the moon resulted in over 100 bags of poop left behind. Maybe that's the future purpose of the moon: to become Earth's greatest garbage dump.

The Israelis recently did something I consider rather disturbing. They tried to send a spacecraft called Beresheet to the moon. It arrived but crashed on impact, which was not the plan. The disturbing part was that the ship carried a container of dehydrated tardigrades, also known as "water bears." These are very hardy microscopic organisms that can survive extreme environmental conditions. They can survive for years without water or food by assuming a shape similar to the Michelin man, or a dog wearing puffy Lands' End jackets. Tardigrades live in the ocean and soil of every continent and every climate. They are basically indestructible. In 2007, the European Space Agency launched a satellite carrying dehydrated tardigrades and exposed them to the vacuum and ultra-violet radiation of space. The payload returned to Earth and the tardigrades were rehydrated. Turns out many of the organisms survived and reproduced.

So, Beresheet crashes onto the moon's surface and spills out the tardigrades along with human hair and blood samples that were also onboard. Does anyone else see a problem here?

Humans have now "seeded" the moon with invincible organisms, human DNA, and poop. I can think of a dozen science fiction plots blossoming from this elegant mixture, with most not ending well for humans.

Let's summarize. Humans landed on the moon half a century ago, then gave up trying to do anything with it because we were more concerned with Watergate, oil, the Equal Rights Amendment, and disco music. We left plenty of sophisticated equipment on the moon, then send hardy water bears to hibernate on the moon's surface along with a good supply of organic material, including human DNA. Oh, and I almost forgot: there may be water somewhere on the moon! Just what the tardigrades needed!

Best case scenario? The cute little water bears mutate and multiply to become voracious eaters of garbage and plastic, enabling Earth to send all their waste to the moon. The world becomes an environmental paradise!

A worst case, and more likely, scenario? The mutated water bears develop into huge, indestructible beasts. The human DNA from the strewn poop, blood and hair samples becomes incorporated into their genome. A few cycles of quick evolution occur and a species of hybrid "tardi-man" develops. They learn human technology from the junk we left behind, invade Mother Earth, and wipe out all human life.

Oh, well; we had a good run while it lasted.

-- Devin Houston is the president/CEO of Houston Enzymes. Send comments or questions to devin.houston@gmail.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 08/28/2019

Print Headline: Humans spoil everything

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