Water is the common factor tying together the three biggest unknowns of life | Ozwater

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Water is the common factor tying together the three biggest unknowns of life

Posted 8 May 2018

Keynote Speakers

We are living in an unusual era, one that is of evolution and business revolution. To stay ahead of the pack, the water industry needs long-term foresight and planning as the distance between dreams and reality is getting shorter than before.

That was the key message behind Dr Adriana Marais’ keynote presentation on day one of Ozwater’18. Marais is a theoretical physicist, Head of Innovation at SAP Africa and an aspiring Martian with Mars One. 

In her keynote presentation, Marais outlined the three biggest unknowns of life and explained how water is a tying factor between all of them. 

The first of the biggest unknowns, she mentioned, was life itself. According to Marais, that may be a philosophical question but humans are a single data point to understand what life is and there needs to be another data point to validate it. 

And the existence of new life forms lie where there is water.  

“All life is related to liquid water and it facilitates complexity for life to exist in the first place. Much of earth’s water is older than the sun itself; the solar system is awash so where there is liquid, it raises the possibility of other forms of life,” she said. 

That’s where the Mars One project, which Marais is one of the final 100 candidates of, comes in. The aim of this project is to establish the first human settlement on Mars in 2032.

“We have already detected the building blocks of life in space, which are molecules on ice grains.”

The second of the biggest unknowns that Marais identified is space. This relates to space around earth and further afield.

Marais said that rovers on Mars are feeding back data so we can understand what is happening on that planet and if it presents us with opportunities.  

“We are living in a revolutionary period to have the ability to go from earth to Mars. We see this as an extension to our time on earth and to extend our thinking and existence beyond where we are from. We want to make humans a multiplanetary species,” she said. 

“Living on Mars will revolutionise the way we use and think about our natural resources, including water. I’m willing to sacrifice anything to be a part of this. This will result in a perspective shift [in terms of how we use our resources] as the trajectory we are currently on isn’t sustainable.”

Marais mentioned that the project to Mars is required to make the difference as it also forces the team to look into elements such as solar-powering, testing water on the planet, retrieving water from asteroids and other sources, as well as precision farming to sustain their existence. 

The last of the biggest unknowns, as said by Marais, is time. 

“Things have changed so much in the last 100 years and going forward another 100 years from now, we may discover the existence of martians. We need to envision the future,” she said. 

In envisioning the future, the water industry has much to do to ensure that water resources are sufficient for lifetimes ahead.  

“There are resources we all share now, like life and time, but we need to think about what we do with the space between to build our lives and future,” she added. 

Ozwater’18 is currently ongoing in Brisbane, at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, from now until 10 May.

Related article:
Use your data to create a revolution, and evolution will follow: Prof Alan Duffy

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