Moon skyscraper concept: Man as termite

In eVolo’s 2011 Skyscraper Competition, an entry title Moonscraper, by Luis Quinones of the United States, won honorable mention for a concept that has, so far, been found only in the pages of science fiction.

Quinones proposes turning our eyes toward the moon, notably the Shackleton Crater Rim on the moon’s South Pole, a place where resources have not been exhausted and overpopulation is a subject for a mythical future.

Further, acknowledging the difference in gravity between the earth and the moon, Quinones make a case for reexamining what human beings think of as shelter, how they traditionally construct dwellings, and why they impose artificial constraints on the logic of building—limitations that competitions like the Skyscraper Competition attempt to address.

Instead, Quinones suggests, we should take a page from termites or ants, thousands of which appear to cooperate as a self-organizing system in the building of mounds based solely on the interactions of those termites or ants that are in close contact. 

And it is this sort of emergent behavior, which results from bottom up techniques observable in many natural systems, that leads to a surprisingly comprehensive web of relationships—a fact discussed at length in Michael Crichton’s novel called Prey, and developed in Quinones design, which deals with self-organizing systems like robotics, robots programmed with pertinent algorithms.

Quinones habitation model of choice is a skyscraper, which rises up and penetrates deeply underground (certainly deeper than the New York park we reported on earlier). 

This not only allows inhabitants of the moon to take advantage of sunlight, even at the highly oblique angle of the Shackleton Crater to the sun, but protects human s and their associated systems from radiation, meteor strikes and the enormous temperature differentials on the surface of the moon—ranging from a high of 260 degrees Fahrenheit to a low of 280 degrees. 

Taking advantage of the moon’s untapped resources via programmed robots, Quinones explains, we could also harvest the moon’s known deposits of frozen water and hydroxyl gases to operate Regenerative Fuel Cells via a process of electrolysis which strips out the hydrogen and oxygen molecules from the frozen water. But is it doable? No one can say for sure, although Newt Gingrinch would probably like the idea.

*Jeanne Roberts, EarthTechling