Monday, July 21, 2014

Woodworking in Space

In the future, when we colonize Mars, will we bring with us every possible thing we could ever need or will we make stuff we need? 

I should probably read up on the force of gravity on Mars, because gravity is why we make most furniture. We need something to hold us and our stuff off the ground. (OK, a short Google search later, and I found that gravity on Mars is only 38 percent of the gravity on Earth. For comparison’s sake, the Moon’s gravity is 83.3 percent LESS than Earth’s.*) So instead of making furniture to hold us up, we might need to make furniture to hold us down. We might store things on the underside of shelves so they won’t wander off.

"Lignin or lignen is a complex polymer of aromatic alcohols known as monolignols." -- Wikipedia

It’s possible that we will be able to mine Mars for materials (we’re good at figuring out how to make that happen). But there are no trees on Mars. NASA (or, more likely, SpaceX), should create some kind of polymer extrusion machine. You’d feed in raw elements like carbon and oxygen and whatever else makes up lignin, and then extrude it into various shapes. We could carry up hand tools to shape and join this wood-like substance into furniture and shelves and other stuff. We could also re-purpose some of the original stuff we brought with us, forming a Mars maker movement. 

All of this leads to one bold but logical conclusion:  woodworkers should be the first people on Mars.

* Update: An alert reader (I'm surprised I have any readers, much less alert ones!) schooled me on the gravity percentages above. Turns out the moon's gravity isn't 83% of Earth's but 83% LESS than Earth's. So I took out my Buzz Aldrin sight gag... Got to get your science right.