New York Times Compares Astronauts to Dung-Eating Fungus

Are you really "aiming to leave the dung heap" by venturing beyond Earth?
It seems so stupid!

Last week, the first ever space mission with an all-civilian crew was launched. It spent some time in orbit and then successfully returned to Earth.

It is a remarkable accomplishment for the private spaceflight sector and, if you feel optimistic, a significant moment of human history. This has prompted praises and congratulations from prominent politicians and spaceflight leaders.

If you look at The New York Times' hallowed pages, you will find a completely different message about SpaceX's Inspiration4 mission. It is a surprising, poetic essay that explains how the new generation of astronauts is not unlike the Pilobolus, which is a genus fungus that lives on top of piles of dung.

Keep Calm

Dennis Overbye, NYT correspondent, clarified that he was not trying to denigrate the accomplishments of the astronauts. He compared humanity's constant push to discover and settle the cosmos to a strange mechanism the fungus uses to move to browner pastures.



Overbye noted that fungus can form a stalk when it senses that it is running out of nutrients poop. Then, the spores will explode with enough force to find another place to live. They settle on grass blades and wait to be eaten by an herbivore.

The behavior of the Pilobolus, lowly and nimble, is a metaphor for the Space Program. It's a species that responds to impulses it doesn't fully understand and aspires to leave the dung heap, Overbye wrote in an essay. What do we really know about ourselves?

Paving the Way

The essay ends with a bittersweet picture. Elon Musk once stated that he wanted to die on Mars. Overbye isn't certain that the eccentric megabillionaire will ever be the first, but someone will.

Overbyes will think of the person who claims the title as a Pilobolus spore, which is a faraway colony that aims to establish a new colony for future generations.



READ MORE: What a Fungus Tells Us About the Space Program [The New York Times]

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