'Appendix Two'


('In Standard English')

The surface of the moon looks a lot like a desert. It's dry, rocky, and sandy. There are no plants on the moon. Not even a small cactus.

In the year 1969 human beings from planet Earth first stepped on the moon. They walked around a bit and collected some moon rocks to take back with them. By
mistake, they forgot to plant the acorn.

They had brought an acorn with them, along with a watering can and some potting soil. They were supposed to plant the acorn a few hundred yards away from the
spaceship, but they forgot. They plain forgot.

You can't really blame them though. They had so much else to do. Every minute of every day they had something important to do. People from NASA were telling
them what to do over the radio.

But what if they had remembered to plant the acorn? What if they had dug down a couple of inches in the loose soil, dropped some sweet-smelling potting soil into
the hole, and gently placed the acorn in its new home? What if they covered the acorn with some more sweet-smelling potting soil, and gently watered it with their
watering can?

An acorn doesn't need a lot of things to grow. It needs water, it needs soil, it needs sunlight, and it needs carbon dioxide gas. Now, there's plenty of soil and plenty
of sunlight on the moon. But water and carbon dioxide are in short supply. That's why the astronauts brought a watering can with them.

They also brought a small plastic greenhouse with them. The plan was to place the greenhouse right over the planted acorn. Then the greenhouse was supposed to
be filled with carbon dioxide gas.

After the acorn sprouted, it would pop up through the soil right in the middle of the greenhouse. There would be lots of water, soil, sunlight, and carbon dioxide for
the small plant to grow tall and strong.

Plants both produce and consume carbon dioxide. A plant placed in a closed bottle, with good soil, sunlight and water, can survive for years without any care from
human beings. (If you don't believe me, you can try this yourself at home.)

As the little oak tree grew, it would produce more and more carbon dioxide from its leaves. Its branches would reach out and bump into the walls of the greenhouse.
One day, the top of the oak tree would poke its way through the top of the greenhouse.

When that happened, some of the carbon dioxide and oxygen would escape through this hole. But the strong plant would continue to grow and continue to produce
more of these two gases.

So if you think of the moon's atmosphere as a small glass bottle in space, it might be possible for an oak tree to grow in its soil If only the astronauts had not
forgotten to plant the acorn.

Phil Shapiro

Copyright 1995

All Rights Reserved



Last revised on 24 April 2001