Recovering and reconstructing the contents of an ark

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Pablo Edronkin

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Continuing with our analysis of the feasibility of a "Noah's Ark" as a survival tool, we will see now how the recovery and reconstruction of life would work starting with the Ark's contents. Such a survival strategy would be quite a bet, but one in which nothing should be unattended.

Our analysis started with the article "Is Noah's Ark a realistic, valid survival strategy?" that we have published some time ago. Thorough various related articles we have demonstrated that while the method is feasible as a survival technique that might save a blueprint of any given natural environment, it presents many problems. So, it can only be used with a lot of resources at hand because in order to solve many of these difficulties, expertise, financing and technology which are beyond the capabilities of most people would be required.

But the problems of a "Noah's Ark" shelter don't end when everything and everyone have been packed inside safely -be that hundreds of metres under ground in a safe bunker, floating around flooded areas, or even flying in space. Achieving that is only part of the overall goal of such a survival tool because in reality, an ark is meant to keep an environment alive or in stasis until it could be reconstructed. So, after danger passes and the conditions are right again for life, the people, animals, plants and so on contained in the ark would have to be downloaded.

That is not so simple as it might initially appear, because reviving a whole environment and adapting it to the new conditions that it likely will encounter is even a major challenge to natural evolution. Simply opening the doors and letting everyone and everything outside wouldn't work because an environment is not just a collection of beings and things but a system. For example: If carnivores and herbivores are going to be freed, it wouldn't only be reasonable to let out first the plant eaters and let them grow into reasonable numbers before freeing the carnivores that will depend on them. The herbivores should achieve sustainable numbers without becoming a plague for other animals or plants. If you have grazers, yo don't need them to become like locusts.

Thus, this step presents two main problems:

The need for knowledge.

Energy and resources for reconstruction.

The need for knowledge:

We have already seen that it is not advisable to simply liberate in the new environment the beings and matter from the former one, without following a certain order, which has to be calculated and designed carefully in order to avoid the loss of species -both those contained in the ark and those of the newly-discovered environment - because be it a new island, continent, or even planet, when a virgin, untamed territory containing species comes in contact with another one, fossil records show that mass extinctions tend to take place. That is what happened when South America and North America came in contact a few million years ago after a natural bridge was formed by vulcanism and sedimentation - Central America. Species were able to migrate from south to north and vice versa, and began invading the territories of other species which were unable to adapt, thus causing their extinction.

Causing a mass extinction when the goal was originally to save life from one would mean an effective failure, even if the extinction affects only the beings of the environment to which the ark has arrived, figuratively or literally. A new environment commands as much respect as the one that the planners of the ark intended to save. It would be morally contradictory to save something to the full expense of something else. An invasion and readaptation would be - to some extent - inevitable, but its impact should be minimized for reason that span the moral and the practical: A mass extinction among the hosts could fire back at some point in unexpected ways. If things are working, nobody should make attempts at fixing them. This, in turn, means that the contents of an ark will likely not be freed immediately after arrival because time will be needed to obtain information and develop knowledge about the new environment. However, delays could cause the deaths of living beings sheltered within the ark. Thus, some level of controlled breeding would have to be enacted or the living organisms in the ark would have to be kept in some sort of stasis or latency state, by hibernation or in the form of DNA samples to be cloned and reproduced. This, in turn, means that for trips or missions of unpredictable duration, latency would be less problematic than active life.

Energy and resources for reconstruction:

Any process involved in liberating the contents of an ark would require some sort of resources. That is ultimately translated into the consumption of time and energy. We have already seen that time is a problem that can be solved using a latency paradigm to keep the contents of the ark safe and efficiently, as long as necessary. However, regarding energy, it is necessary to consider that the ark will need a sufficient amount of it in order to actually proceed with the reconstruction without problems. Failing to follow on a reconstruction path because of a lack of energy could have disastrous consequences. Thus, the energy system of the ark will have to guarantee that enough will be stored and generated on demand, because processing other resources such as raw materials might become necessary on the way.

Since it is impossible to predict how much resources will be used and thus, how much energy will be required. Energy provision would require a system capable of running for extended periods of time, redundant, autonomous, but also, capable of self-repair and regeneration. In some cases, or considering some scenarios, it might become necessary to keep life in latency for hundreds or thousands of years, or even more. Thus the importance of having virtually infallible energy sources.

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