We could colonize space by 3D printing ourselves on other planets

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Jun 30, 2014, 5:27 PM EDT

We all want it: human space colonization. Unfortunately, that's impossible with current technology. When you factor in the dangers of space travel along with health problems that occur because of space travel, colonizing the cosmos with human beings is, for the time being, impractical. But what if we could somehow send our genetic code to another planet and use that to 3D print a human there? It might sound crazy, but several scientists say it’s not only possible, but also the easiest way to colonize other planets.

Adam Steltzner, the lead engineer on NASA’s Curiosity mission, spoke at a recent conference, about this crazy idea. The concept basically states that we would encode our genetic information into a bacteria (which we’ve already learned could survive space travel) and then set up some system that would use that DNA to 3D print humans once they’ve arrived on another planet. Again, this sounds absolutely insane, but think of the progress we’ve made in not only understanding the human genome, but also in printing out human parts, specifically organs.

Gary Ruvkun, a biologist at Harvard, agreed, pointing out that this idea comes out of the concept of sending bacteria into space to terraform other planets. Why bacteria? Because they can store a lot of information. What we want to do is terraform another planet and then send the human genetic code via a bacteria there. That, or we could send a robot to assemble the information on the other side to print out humans, or we could let the terraforming do its work and wait for evolution to do its thing. (The latter would be a much longer and more involved process.)

Have I mentioned how crazy this sounds yet? But it’s still possible, regardless. We’re making great strides each year in genetic engineering, cloning and bioprinting. Imagine what we will have achieved in 1,000, 2,000, or even 5,000 years. At that point, if we haven’t invented the warp drive or figured out how to travel through wormholes, this could be our only option. At some point, we’re going to have to stop focusing our efforts on Earth and move outwards, so if that’s our only option to further the human species, why not?

Steltzner pointed out that although such ideas are a little out there, they’re still more realistic than space travel, at least based on current technology.

“This is completely speculative," said Steltzner. "But it doesn’t require you moving faster than the speed of light, and it doesn’t require infinite amounts of energy.”

When you put it that way, it kind of makes sense, doesn’t it?

Via Motherboard