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Toilets of the Gods
Or: The Colonisation of Space
By Sir Arthur C. Clarke
Space scientists recently completed an examination of orbital debris, recovered after circling the Earth for several years. They discovered that much of it was coated with a thin film of what was delicately described as "fecal matter", attributed to astronaut's sloppy sanitation.
This may solve one of the mysteries of life's origin on Earth: it seems to have arisen almost as soon as conditions were favorable, and not after the billions of years of molecular trial and error required by what Isaac Asimov called the "unblind working of chance."
Obviously, organized life-forms need have occurred only once in this Galaxy, if the very first space-faring civilization was as careless about the environment as we are. Years ago, Hoyle and Wickramasinghe suggested that life had a cosmic, and not terrestrial, origin. They may be right, though not precisely in the way they imagined. It's a humbling thought that we may have arisen from dumped sewage; the first chapter of Genesis would certainly require drastic revision.
On the other hand, if - as some philosophers have suggested- this Earth does indeed harbor the only life in the Universe, that deplorable state of affairs is now being rectified. We may draw some consolation - I hesitate to say inspiration - from the fact that our descendants are already on their way to the stars.
But we certainly would not recognize them, and it might be tactless to ask exactly how they got there.
Fecal matter, meanwhile, often gets packed up and cast off from the space station with other trash in capsules that burn up in the atmosphere, Roberts said.
... In 1986, the Soviet Union built the Mir space station, which had a bathroom with a toilet that vented the waste out into space. By the time space officials were retiring Mir in 2001, the space station's solar panels had lost about 40 percent of their effectiveness, Roberts said.
"They realized that a large part of the damage to these solar panels was frozen urine floating in space at very high speeds," Roberts told his audience...
Then God said, "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and ...
It's a humbling thought that we may have arisen from dumped sewage; the first chapter of Genesis would certainly require drastic revision.