Tuesday, February 2, 2010


What if you were worried about system earth failing? How would humanity survive? Could you build a structure that replicates earth and survive in it? Those questions were on the minds of a number of scientists. And, a billionaire by the name of Ed Bass was interested in answers to those same questions. He put forth a cool 150 million to fund this massive greenhouse called Biosphere 2. It was completed and occupied by scientists, who agreed to be locked into the facility for two years, in 1991. It proved that it could be done for a limited amount of time in the "small" 3 1/2 acre greenhouse. The scientists involved had to plant, grow and harvest their own food. Take care of their chickens, pigs, butcher and skin the meat, like pioneers. All of which left them struggling for enough time to do the experiments they had envisioned. Basically it was so much work, they couldn't get enough calories to sustain their necessarily active lifestyle.
Like many others, I saw the special on television about this amazing place, then I forgot all about it. Visiting it was an eye opener.

Its impressive enough from the outside, just considering a greenhouse of this size, one of the largest in the world. (We visited it while in Tuscon visiting my friend, Sandra Voges, last month.)

Inside, there are five natural biomes, (habitats), with 2000 species of plants. Soil brought in also brought the natural insects from that habitat. They have a desert, ocean, rain forest, oak and maple type woodland and grasslands.

We visited the under structure, an amazing web of cables, warrens, tunnels, and pipes to handle all water generated and recycled. An amazing feat of engineering.

Each biome has its own system underground as well. All of which had to monitored by the scientists living in the greenhouse.

This photo of an Austrailian tree shows the complicated engineering of the walls with 7,200,000 cubic feet of sealed glass behind it.

The most interesting structure in the place was the lung shown above. As air expands, it had to expand so the greenhouse wouldn't explode with the pressure. When the doors were opened to the lung, a veritable wind storm erupted, knocking off hats and blowing papers out of back pockets. The greenhouse is no longer airtight as it was during the human habitation. Two breakable windows were included in the structure, in case the lungs didn't work properly under real conditions. The idea was they would explode and relieve pressure. As it turned out, the lungs worked perfectly. This place is a great study facility managed by The University of Arizona. You can learn more by clicking the link:

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