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Dreamers, Visionaries, and Revolutionaries in the Life Sciences$
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Oren Harman and Michael R. Dietrich

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226569871

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226570075.001.0001

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From New Alchemy to Living Machines

From New Alchemy to Living Machines

John Todd’s Dreams of Ecological Engineering

Chapter:
(p.163) 10 From New Alchemy to Living Machines
Source:
Dreamers, Visionaries, and Revolutionaries in the Life Sciences
Author(s):

Michael R. Dietrich

Laura L. Lovett

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226570075.003.0011

When John Todd, Nancy Todd, and William McLarney set up the New Alchemy Institute on Cape Cod in the late 1960s, they wanted to scientifically rethink how we live, produce food, build shelters, generate energy, and process waste. It was a bold dream. As ecologists working at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Woods Hole, John Todd and William McLarney harnessed their expertise in ecological systems and aquaculture to make the New Alchemy Institute into a research laboratory for sustainable living. While the Institute closed in 1991, the Todds took the ecological innovations that they discovered on Cape Cod to create Living Machines capable of large-scale remediation of polluted water systems. In doing so they created a radically biologically-based alternative to established systems of industrial water remediation. The chapter will examine the conditions that allowed for this radical departure from the received approach, and ask what it was that prepared Todd to become the visionary of his field.

Keywords:   Living Machines, New Alchemy Institute, ecology, aquaculture, bioremediation, John Todd, sewage

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