Monday, April 28, 2008

Biosphere 2

We went to the Biosphere 2 in Oracle, Arizona which is outside of Tucson. The tour cost $20 but they also give an AAA discount which helped. The tours are every hour on the half hour and well worth the money. I never knew much about this project so I was amazed to find out that eight people lived in this artificial closed ecological environment for two years. There was no exchange with the outside world other than electric and the sun. All water, waste, and air were recycled. All of the food was produced inside. The reason it ended was that the ratio of carbon dioxide and oxygen got out of balance due to soil microbes.

We were able to tour the inside facility and see the rainforest, ocean, and desert within this secure world. We also saw the water and air exchanges. I was truly fascinated with the “lung” with an expandable bladder. The apartments were two stories with the lower room as the livingroom and the upstairs was the bedroom. All of the inhabitants were single and had to pass psychological testing to see if they could get along with everyone.

The sad part that I found out was that in 2-3 years, they will destroy the Biosphere in order to make room for a major hotel and development of houses. I feel a piece of history will be gone when this happens. It is a shame that something like this will no longer exist to allow for more housing developments. I know we can’t stand in the way of progress but I was sad to hear about this. I feel this would be interesting and educational for students. Right now The University of Arizona is doing projects out there but that will end soon. I guess it is difficult to manage and maintain but surely there is some way that this can be used in an educational setting of some sort.

I couldn’t imagine living in that sort of isolated environment and it made me think of the reality shows on TV today. I guess that was a real live reality show because I’m sure they were observed most of the day. I saw a book in the gift store and forgot to buy it when I left so when I get home, I will have to find it. It is called “The Human Experiment: Two Years and Twenty Minutes Inside Bioshere 2” by Jane Poynter about living in the Biosphere. I’m interested in the point of view from someone who lived there.

I began to wonder what our students could learn from an experiment like this and think they would be interested in this concept. Since reality shows are the big hits on TV, this would have been an ultimate reality show with a purpose. It would be interesting to hear how students feel about a human experiment like this and the connection it has to the International Space Station. It would be great to compare and contrast the two environments. Of course, no one takes into consideration the human factor which no one can predict. I think this would be a successful lesson.

1 comment:

N said...

Pat,
Thanks for your post. I have been contemplating putting the Biosphere 2 on our itinerary. We'll be on a road trip in a couple of weeks.

After reading your post it will definitely make our list.

I had a hard time finding anything recent so I'm glad I found your post.

Thanks again!
Sincerely,
Janet T.