If you grew up when we grew up, chances are you learned about the Biosphere 2 project in science class. Maybe you even read about it in Ranger Rick magazine. It was a hugely ambitious project — recreate the earth (aka Biosphere 1) so that people could live inside entirely self-sufficient. Some called it a failure because people only lived in there for two entire years, but they were calorie and oxygen deprived. However, many scientists call it a success because of the amount of knowledge gained by the experiment. We vote it as a success.
It was interesting to visit. In the magazines growing up, the entire structure radiated newness and cleanliness. Now, there are rusty spots, the paint is pealing away … it’s dying. Biosphere 1 is kicking Biosphere 2’s ass.
However, it was most interesting to hear the insider stories. Rumor has it that two factions formed during the long mission and there are still members of the groups that refuse to speak to each other! And supposedly there was at least one Biosphere hook-up — two of the original team were married after the mission according to our guide. Also according to our guide, the second experiment ended because the knowledge they were gaining was the same as the knowledge gained during the first experiment. Because of this, it was cut short. Wikipedia, however, tells a different story: federal marshals served the management team with a retraining order, removing them from the site. This pushed the mission into chaos.
The structure is now being used for other experiments, notably the LEO experiment that is going on now that hopes to learn more about soil formation and the interaction between rain and soil. It’s now wholly owned by the University of Arizona, and it’s evidently pretty expensive to keep up — tickets for the tour are $20.
We, of course, took a lot of pictures.