"Biosphere 2" - a paradise on earth

At 8:15 am September 26, 1991, eight men dressed in futuristic uniforms overalls, waved to the huge crowd of journalists and entered a sealed gateway that led into heaven ... 2. At least, that's how many newspapers wrote at the time. Officially, it was a huge research project, called "Biosphere 2". It is located in the Arizona desert and was a system of airtight glass domes. Inside it was installed five units landscape (jungle, savannah, marsh, ocean from a small beach and coral reef, desert), the agricultural unit, equipped with the latest technology, as well as a residential house built in avant-garde style. In addition to the people inside were running about 4 thousand a variety of fauna, including goats, pigs and chickens on the farm. All this ark was independently survive two years, feeding on what grew in the dome, breathing oxygen plant which was isolated, purified and infinitely using the same water. A sort of a planet in miniature, untouched technological revolution, where eight of intelligent, educated people, four men and four women, were planning to engage in simple manual labor, to gather at the same dining table, playing music in his leisure hours, and finally to work for a great purpose for the benefit of science . Is not it a paradise?


The founding father of this project, subsequently introduced by the magazine Times, the list of "100 most high-profile failures in history," called John Allen. He was a happy man. After studying in Metallurgical Institute, and a little work in the profession, John quickly abandoned the case because the parent inheritance was enough for a comfortable life, and plunged into a science, and in the Indiana Jones of its manifestation. Allen funded a small scientific expeditions to remote corners of the world to study, say, agriculture ancient civilizations. Under this deal to recruit young enthusiasts all together we went to some remote place where at the junction of Ethnography and Ecology of doing scientific research, and in fact traveled from place to place, and a great time. At some point around Allen formed a group of enthusiasts and entuziastok, which he combined into a kind of commune - Synergy ranch in the state of New Mexico. However, although the case and took place in the late '60s, all this does not look like a bunch of hippies in the esoteric, though Allen is quite in accordance with the traditions of the then took on the role of spiritual leader. In spite of the inheritance, he was a man with real business acumen. Prior to his scientific research, he managed to stay developer in Asia, the founder of a recruiting agency for the mercenaries and the manager of a large steel company, so he had something to tell us about life. Also on the ranch Synergy we enjoy studying the history of philosophy and practiced amateur theatrical productions, which helped participants to "unlock the creative potential", and generally maintain an atmosphere of student summer expedition.

All of this probably would have continued in the same vein, if Wednesday careless students are not wormed real billionaire Ed Bass. He enthusiastically attended seminars, participated in theater and all kinds of tomfoolery has demonstrated that he is ready to do anything for science. Allen decided to miss the chance just stupid, and planned with the help of Ed crank out one of the biggest private research projects in human history.

It was a "Biosphere 2" - Garden of Eden behind a glass wall, a prototype of future lunar or Martian colony or even a refuge in case of global catastrophe in 2012. In general, the wonderful world of their own pockets, where you can set its own laws.

Just say that serious scientific institutions from the outset were skeptical of the idea of ​​"Biosphere 2", because, first, none of the founders of the project was not an academic scholar, and secondly, the financing of this impressive experiment did not happen under the state program, or at least under the aegis of the institute, and just at the whim of a private person.

But the press was just delighted with the "biosphere". Eight people, surviving in a confined space, similar to a studio pavilion ... This idea was in the air, and if the creators of "Biosphere 2" smart enough to put inside the dome, they would become the founder of modern reality show * and probably recaptured to all the millions spent on the project. But, alas, for all the business acumen Allen was the man of the last century, and perhaps too snob: he wanted to be a scientist, not a showman. So he missed this point.

* "By the way, the creators of the Dutch" Big Brother ", the first reality show, admitted that it was inspired by the" Biosphere 2 ».


In the town of Oracle in the south of Arizona was bought about 16 hectares of land on which Ed and Allen began to design his new world. For the construction of domes invited renowned engineers and architects for the design of bionic modules (Ocean, Jungle, savannah, desert and swamp) workers called best botanical gardens in the world and experts oceanographers. Agricultural unit designed with the most modern technologies of intensive agriculture, as well as using some specific methods of ancient civilizations, who perfectly knew Allen. For example, a system of fish ponds integrated into the swampy part of the "Biosphere", was made by the ancient Chinese pattern. Agriculture is supposed to completely organic, without pesticides or even fertilizers. After irrigation system beds, organic waste, and the process of obtaining drinking water were completely intertwined, so that the entire chemistry very quickly would have been on the table of the inhabitants of "Biosphere».

Particular attention was paid to full containment domes, which are superior tightness spacecraft. This was considered a technical issue, as the expansion of the air during the daytime temperature increase. To "sealed capsule" "biosphere" did not explode, they were designed in the so-called "light" - a huge arch membrane spaced opposite ends of that day becomes convex, and blown away during the night.

The only resource that this huge greenhouse, standing in the middle of the desert, had to take from the outside - it's electricity, primarily used for the cooling water circulation.

As a result, the construction of the entire complex of buildings of a little more than a hectare, including the creation of bionic modules and settlement of animals at a cost of $ 150 million. Another 50 million was spent on maintaining the "Biosphere" in working order at the time of the experiment.


In 1991, an artificial garden of Eden has been fully prepared for the appearance of a person. On the sidelines of the first crop farm ripe, splashing fish in ponds, in the rainforest, and hummingbirds fly buzzed the rock small waterfall, 30-meter Sea washes the tiny white sand beach with palm trees.

On the role of Adam and Eve chose eight people. Tellingly, neither Allen nor Bass were not included in their number: as the true creators, they had to control the process from the outside. However, a lack of willing from among the members of the commune on a ranch Synergy was not. "Captains' colonies became the 36-year-old Sally Silverstone, which had previously engaged in agricultural projects in India, and 30-year-old Mark Van Tillo, a professional mechanic, who previously worked on a research boat Bass. Sally was responsible for the financial and organizational part of the project, Mark - for the technical part. Research Director was appointed 31-year-old Abigail Ayling, a professional oceanographer. 39-year-old botanist Linda Lay was responsible for the flora of "Biosphere". Specialist intensive agriculture 29-year-old Jane Poynter was responsible for the farm and food provision colony. 27-year-old Taber McCallum, the only participant of the experiment without higher education, acted as a technical assistant. Mark Nelson, a 44-year Bachelor of Philosophy, was appointed public relations director: he passed on the information from the "biosphere" out. He was the chief of the irrigation systems and the Cesspool. Finally, the most exotic participant of the experiment - 67-year-old Dr. Roy Walford impressive played the role of a doctor onboard. Roy became interested in "biosphere" in connection with his own research: he had a theory that calorie intake below the poverty line leads to a healthier and longer life. He wanted to see the impact on the health of bionavtov almost entirely vegetarian organic diet.

September 26, 1991, eight of the future bionavtov rose before dawn, had breakfast eggs with bacon, served lengthy press conference, defended the photo session, participated in the ceremony of wires and finally went inside the dome, closing the door sealed. They remember how, already tired, sat in the mess in the morning, looking at the glass roof over the drifting clouds, just like usual, and could not believe that the experiment began. Turning back was not there.

First problemy

At first, everything was exactly as they dreamed. Colonists enthusiastically worked on the farm fields, checked the operation of all systems, followed the turbulent life of the jungle, fished, sat on its little beach, and in the evenings eating dinner superbly prepared with the freshest products on the balcony overlooking the maturing crop. For the beds and green glass wall farm began desert and mountain ridge, behind which the sun was setting. This balcony colonists called "visionary cafes" - hence the future looked particularly bright. After dinner, organized philosophical discussions or impromptu jam sessions. Many brought with them musical instruments, and even professional musicians was not among them, then what happens to the wave of general enthusiasm seemed avant-garde music of the future.

About a week later the main techniques of "Biosphere" Van Tillo came to breakfast very excited. He announced that he has a strange and unpleasant news. Daily measurements of the state of the air showed that the designers of the dome made a mistake in the calculations. In the atmosphere, gradually decreasing the amount of oxygen and increases the percentage of carbon dioxide. While it is completely invisible, however, if the trend continues, in about a year existence of the station will be disabled. From that day bionavtov paradise life was over, began an intense struggle for the air they breathed.

Firstly, it has been decided how to intensively increase biomass. All the free time devoted colonists planting and caring for plants. Second, they ran at full capacity backup absorber of carbon dioxide, from which constantly had to scrape off the residue. Third, an assistant has become the ocean, where settles a number of CO, turning into acetic acid. However, the acidity of the ocean from this constantly growing and had to use additives, lowering it *. Nothing helped. The air under the dome became more and more sparse.

* "By the way, exactly the same thing is happening with the global ocean acidity which in the past hundred years has risen by 30%».

Shortly before bionavtami there is another global problem. It turned out that the farm is 20 acres with all modern technologies of cultivation of the land is able to provide only 80% of the needs of the colonists in the food. Their daily diet (the same for men and women) is 1,700 calories, which is normal for sedentary office life, but too little, on the amount of physical work, which was to serve every citizen of "biosphere". Initially, dinner was served buffet style, but soon because of serious conflicts began to emerge, and food began to impose in each plate, measuring out literally to the program. People got up from the table hungry and constantly dreamed of delicacies big world. Evening philosophical discussions replaced fantasies about what they eat, when will be released. Pantry, where he kept important bionavtov treats - bananas, after the disgusting episode anonymous looting had to be locked with a key. Before you give cleaning pigs, people have carefully selected everything that can be eaten themselves. Banana skins and walnut husks followed the delicacy.

One evening, Jane Poynter, responsible for the farm, admitted that she was aware of the future food crisis. A few months before settling it calculated that bionavtam will miss the food, but under the influence of Dr. Walford with his ideas about a healthy diet, it was decided that this shortage will only benefit. Doctor, by the way, was the only one who did not complain of hunger. He continued to insist on the validity of his theory: after six months 'starvation' diet bionavtov blood condition has improved significantly, decreased cholesterol level, improved metabolism. People have lost 10 to 18 percent of body weight, and looked surprisingly young. They smiled from behind the glass journalists and curious tourists, pretending that nothing is happening. However bionavty felt worse and worse.


Summer 1992 was particularly difficult for the colonists. Rice crops were destroyed by pests, so their diet for several months almost entirely consisted of beans, sweet potatoes and carrots. Due to the excess of beta-carotene their skin was orange.

This trouble was added a particularly strong El Niño, because of which the sky above "Biosphere 2" almost the entire winter was overcast. This weakened photosynthesis jungle (hence, the production of precious oxygen), and also reduced the already meager harvest.

The world around them was losing its beauty and harmony. The "desert" because of condensation on the ceiling of rain fell regularly, so that many plants have rotted. The huge five-meter trees in the jungle suddenly become brittle, some fell, breaking all around. (Subsequently, exploring this phenomenon, scientists have concluded that the cause lay in the absence of wind under the dome, which strengthens the tree trunks in nature.) Runoff in fish ponds are blocked, and the fish became less and less. All the more difficult it was to deal with the acidity of the ocean, because of which the corals died. The fauna of the jungle and savanna also inexorably shrinking. They thrive only cockroaches and ants that filled all the biological niche. The biosphere is gradually dying.

The hosts of heaven feel no better. The amount of oxygen in the atmosphere continuously decreased and reached 16% (at a rate of 20%). This is comparable to the rarefied air of the mountains, and usually the human body quickly adapts to this state. However, due to general exhaustion colonists mountain sickness would not let them. Bionavty began to tire quickly, constantly dizzy, they could no longer do the job in the same volume. But the most radical oxygen deprivation affected their morale. Everyone felt depressed, sad, irritated. Every day under the dome there were scandals.

The main reason for the conflict was the fact that Allen did not allow bionavtam publicize their concerns. He continued to pretend that the experiment goes according to plan. Half of the colonists (both captains, public relations director and boss of Research, ie management) were absolutely agree with this position. They believed that it is necessary to stay under the dome of the planned two years at any cost. Another four bionavtov argued that urgently needs to seek assistance from international scientists to understand why the oxygen disappears. It is also a good idea to order some food from the outside air.

Jane Poynter, the group leader, who wanted to ask for help, described the beginning of the conflict: "I was cleaning in pens for the animals on the farm. His head was spinning badly and had to constantly rest. In the morning, we talked about our situation, and I said that I stay here and choking - this is some sectarianism. I thought about all this, then turned around and saw Abigail, who was standing behind me. She had something in her mouth ... The next moment she spat in my face! I was confused and asked: "For what?" "The very think," - she replied, then turned and left ».

Meanwhile, ordinary viewers who every day come with their buses, to see what is going on in a giant human aquarium, did not know what passion there seething.

via factroom.ru


See also

New and interesting