Chroococcidiopsis and the City in the Moon

City in the Moon, Adebisi Fabunmi, Nigeria, 1960’s; National Museum of African Art collection
City in the Moon, Adebisi Fabunmi, Nigeria, 1960’s; National Museum of African Art collection

Nigerian artist Adebisi Fabunmi created the piece titled “City in the Moon” based on his dreams of a crowded city in the moon as a symbol for his belief that humans would eventually find a new home in the universe away from the Earth. Significant for its Yoruba influence, this work published the 1960’s depicts the cosmos as our new home. There is no doubt that this notion is a very common thought in the modern day as a result in the decreasing optimism about the Earth’s ability to sustain life for much longer. What is interesting however, is that innovative and creative ideas like this bridge the gap between science and art. While Fabunmi can portray this as fabric on a wooden board, scientists have also made discoveries that make this plan more concrete.

Contemporary science often turns to Mars as the nearest possible planet to inhabit. Currently, the environment is harsh and impossible for humans to live on; however, there is the possibility that we can alter the climate and culture the atmosphere of Mars that will eventually allow for human life. One of these theories is the use of the bacteria Chroococcidiopsis.

A photomicrograph of Chroococcidiopsis, enlarged 100 times. NASA.
A photomicrograph of Chroococcidiopsis, enlarged 100 times. NASA.

This bacteria is not only able to survive in the most extreme of climates, but it has the ability to photosynthesize. For those who are unaware of the implications of photosynthesis, this means that this bacteria is able to essentially sustain life by taking in light and converting it into oxygen. Granted that this procedure is by no means as simple as it sounds, there is scientific hope for Fabunmi’s visions.

With any solution comes more problems, and this also is portrayed by Fabunmi’s artwork. Part of the significance of this piece is seen by the representation of a crowded city in cosmos. This suggests that even if we do find a new home, it will echo the same problems that we had before on Earth. Furthermore, research on chroococcidiopsis have shown that although able to live in the most unforgiving climates, Mars is still much too cold for this bacteria to survive just yet. This means that there must be significant preparation for this plan to follow through. Combined with Fabunmi’s concerns, the result when science and art come together teach a lesson in setting up the right foundation and then learning from our old lessons to ensure we don’t make the same old mistakes.

Sources:

Britt, Robert Roy. “Best Way to Make Mars Habitable: Inject Greenhouse Gas | Space.com.” Space. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Apr. 2015.

“Greening of the Red Planet.” NASA Science. NASA, n.d. Web. 01 Apr. 2015.

Walker, Robert. “Can We Engineer an Oxygen Producing Bacteria Capable of Surviving on Mars?” Quora. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Apr. 15.

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