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ERA OF NEW TECHNOLOGIES
Now let us look at how microorganisms can help the other spheres of human being as well as branches of industry.
The concept of creating biochemical energy sources has a fairly long and chequered history. In the past century it arose on many occasions then became forgotten and later again surfaced. In recent years the development of microelectronics and space technology has led scientists of many countries to search for new biochemical energy sources.
Aided by what is known as “electric” microorganisms which generate and accumulate electricity cheap economical small-sized biochemical cells have already been created. It has been discovered that “living electric batteries” could already be used in system of providing spaceships with hydrogen, oxygen, drinking water and air. At this stage biochemical cells generate energy for sea buoys, automatic sonar systems, lighthouses and other types of signalling and safeguarding equipment.
The rapid growth of urban centres and their population has created a problem of waste utilization. Of all domestic wastes the greatest trouble is given by plastics. Should used containers be burned? Now it is known that resisting burning plastics only melt and clog up the incinerator lattices and releases smoke which poisons the atmosphere with noxious combustion by-products and stench.
Scientists are searching for a solution by employing microorganisms and not without some success. Not long ago encouraging news came from Britain: its researchers had grown microbes which convert polychlorvinyl film into carbon. Scientists hope that in the nearest future bacteria will eventually help to solve the problem of urban dump cluttered up by “eternal” plastic packets and other synthetic items. As a step further they will evolve special bacteria which could “infect” plastics in the course of their manufacture. For some time bacteria must remain inactive but when containers are dumped under the action of the environment they will become activized destroying the plastics.
In fact, the scientific search for useful bacteria which should be made to work for man is only beginning.
In the future, when man has achieved complete control of these living communities and has learned to create any required microbial culture, he will possibly be able to consider transforming the atmosphere on the nearby planets. He will be able to send enormous clouds containing earthly microorganisms which will hover in the upper layers of the Venusian atmosphere “feeding” on the vast amounts of carbon dioxide discovered in it. The microorganisms would release oxygen and as they multiply this process of creating an artificial atmosphere would accelerate. Within a comparatively short period — centuries, if not decades — the process which took whole geological ages on earth would convert Venus into a planet hospitable to man.
1. Tell where biochemical sources of energy have already been applied.
2. Explain how microbes can help to solve the problem of plastic wastes.
3. Saywhere microbes are employed to create artificial atmosphere.
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