With a steady growth in technology, we are confronted increasingly with adverse environments for both human and human-made systems. Such challenges can be met in two ways: 1) the environment can be changed or controlled so that it becomes or remains conducive to the proper functioning of the system, or 2) the system can be designed and built to withstand the hostile influences. In the case of the human system, design changes within a reasonable time frame are not possible; consequently, its proper functioning is dependent on the creation and maintenance of a suitable environment (e.g. the space suit). But for the human-made system, it is mostly the opposite. To a large extent, it would not be possible to achieve the technological advances (e.g. laser fusion) we now seek without the creation of systems which function properly in the midst of hostile environments. In certain cases, both alternatives are available, but the creation of a fully benign environment would not be cost effective (e.g. spaceborne fiber optic waveguide communication system).