About 700 million years ago, plants began to establish themselves on land. Prior to that, only the oceans teemed with life, and Earth's terrain bore none except for simple fungi. The first plant species to make the leap from the sea to land were so simple and delicate they left behind no fossils. In fact, they were only discovered theoretically through examination of those first plants' molecular clock -- the series of mutations found in an organism's genetic make-up.
Earth's atmosphere was created through the sacrifice of countless plants that grew, seeded, evolved and died. To put it more plainly, plants literally shaped the atmosphere into one suitable for their survival. Luckily for us, it's also an atmosphere in which humans and all other earthly organisms thrive.
Israeli researchers would develop a new (and better) method of growing plants in the 1980s. Known as aeroponics, this process grows plants with no soil and extremely little water. The burgeoning popularity of aeroponics is emblematic of mankind's desire to shape the planet to suit our needs, just as those first plants did 700 million years ago. Time will tell if this growing method also becomes the saving grace that erases all of the havoc we've created as a result of that desire. We'll explore the history and evolution of aeroponics, as well as the technology behind it, starting on the next page.