Biosphere 2


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Biosphere 2,

privately funded ecological research project in which eight people lived sealed in a 3.15-acre (1.28-hectare) structure for two years (Sept. 26, 1991–Sept. 26, 1993). Located in Oracle, Ariz., about 35 mi (56 km) north of Tucson, and designed to depend on the outside only for electricity and sunlight, Biosphere 2 was intended to test the feasibility of a self-sustaining space colony. It contained over 3,500 plant and animal species and attempted to reproduce five ecosystems (see ecologyecology,
study of the relationships of organisms to their physical environment and to one another. The study of an individual organism or a single species is termed autecology; the study of groups of organisms is called synecology.
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)—desert, grassland, marsh, ocean, and rain forest. The human inhabitants (four men and four women) were to grow all their food and recycle their wastes, but used some seed stocks as food. The project's validity was questioned by scientists who criticized the plan to use outside electricity, the presence of stores of food and animal feed, and other aspects. A decline in the oxygen level led to the pumping of oxygen into the complex in 1993. A second crew entered Biosphere in Mar., 1994, but various disagreements and allegations of mismanagement made by the chief financial backer, Edward Bass, finally led to the abandonment of attempts at self-sufficient living. From 1995 to 2003 the management of the project was taken over by Columbia Univ., which used the facility for education and scientific research on environmental issues. In 2007, the Univ. of Arizona assumed management of the facility; it acquired Biosphere 2 in 2011.
References in periodicals archive ?
A junior at Notre Dame in Indiana, Glynn was one of 50 college students who gathered at Biosphere 2 in the scenic Arizona desert to participate in Columbia University's "Earth Semester" an innovative four-and-a-half-month, 16-credit undergraduate program.
Originally conceived as a sealed laboratory for would-be explorers of Mars, Biosphere 2 fell into scientific disrepute when its eight original residents suffered from a lack of oxygen in their artificial atmosphere (see sidebar).
Biosphere 2 was supposed to be a self-sustaining world-within-a-world, a potential model for a colony in space (see SW 9/20/91, p.
Biosphere 2 is an experimental ecological research program underway 35 miles north of Tucson, Ariz.
Research projects funded by Columbia University, the Packard Foundation, and the National Science Foundation are currently being conducted in Biosphere 2 by prominent researchers from Columbia University, Carnegie Institute, University of Hawaii, and other institutions.
Columbia University's Biosphere 2 Center was among a small group of elite institutions selected to receive this first-ever grant from the Packard Foundation's Interdisciplinary Science program.
Columbia University has brought credibility and energy to the Biosphere 2 Center and we want to support those efforts," said Winifred Warden, president of the Martin Foundation.
One is to provide a forum for some of the world's best environmental chemists to exchange ideas and the other is to strengthen the ties between the chemistry department at Columbia and the earth systems teaching and research being conducted at Biosphere 2.
The Packard grant provides a strategic investment in developing the Biosphere facility into a premier, world-class, earth-learning laboratory Columbia University's Biosphere 2 Center was among a small group of elite institutions selected to receive this first-ever grant from the Packard Foundation's Interdisciplinary Science program.
This observatory is being built for two reasons," said Chris Bannon, vice president for operations at Biosphere 2 Center.
Tawnya Mann's sixth graders from nearby Immaculate Heart Academy in Oro Valley, AZ, used a new GE Lighting on-line energy auditor, called `GELA', to conduct their own audit of the Biosphere 2 Center.
Two dozen college students and two high schoolers will spend four months studying at Biosphere 2, where a series of changes announced Wednesday may improve the facility's tarnished reputation.