So I was thinking about an idea of how to organise living machines in an easy, straightforward manner. The basis of my concept was kind of like the periodic table: every organism should have a little box of its own with information about its inputs, outputs, and preferred environment. For example, a brine shrimp might have a box with a number in the top centre representing the total g/cu. m. of biomass in optimal conditions. It would have a list of necessary inputs with optimal ranges on the left hand side, and the list of outputs with corresponding ranges on the right hand side. On the bottom and around the edges would be both numerical and graphical representations of the preferred habitat of the brine shrimp.
Now, I don’t know anything about biology. I skipped out on biology in High School (where I come from, you only needed two of three sciences to graduate and I’m lazy). I didn’t do any biology in University, so I don’t know osmotic pressure from a twinkie. I ran over this idea to a friend of mine who DOES know osmotic pressure from twinkies. He pointed me to this link:
So, OK, it’s been done. Well, at least I wasn’t smoking crack – it’s a valid system of notation. My idea was more along the lines of creating creatures as building blocks as opposed to expressing the relationships in existing systems. Certainly, the concept of expressing the interrelationships in a system is very interesting, but I was going for a system that you could build an ecosystem from, not a system of representing an ecosystem that already exists.
The concept would be simple: choose a feature organism for which you wish to optimise environmental conditions. Build the services you require into your ecosystem to optimise the environment for the feature organism. Add enough layers of interrelationships to buffer your support systems for the environment. Boom! You have a cell that does exactly what you want it to. If you wanted something to raise the pH in a larger bioremediation system, you find an organism that naturally does so, build an ecosystem that supports it optimally, buffer that system, and incorporate it into your larger system.
My basic concept was for top-down design of an aquaponics system that naturally incorporates cells for the optimization of environment for nutrient uptake in both the fish and the plant side of the machine. Plants like lower pH to maximise mineral uptake. Fish prefer a pH close to 7. Why not plan for a cell that takes low pH water from the plant cell and buffers it up to 7 naturally? Once the water cycles through the fish tank at neutral pH, introduce a cell that drops the pH to 6.2 before it gets cycled into the plant segment of the tank. To be even more functional, the pH-balancing cell could include algae that provided two extra services: they could feed tilapia (they have the capacity to filter-feed), and also introduce oxygen into the system. Any plant such as algae that removes CO2 from the water removes carbolic acid, raising the pH and oxygenating the water. See, even guys who never took biology can think this crap up.
So I want to try making a more constructive rather than analytical tool for the constructing of ecosystems. The problem is, I haven’t the first clue on how to start. I guess starting this is the same as with most things: a quick search on Wikipedia…
The Green Gap
In the Cold War, we feared a Missile Gap was a strategic weakness. Nowadays, we must awaken to the fact that the Green Gap is true strategic weakness: the nations whose economies will thrive in the coming years will not be those with the biggest factories, but those with the most sustainable, efficient, and ecological markets. What we require is a Strategic "Green Reserve" of ecological design to weather the coming changes that both climate and resource scarcity will force on the international economy.