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Inside the strange—and misunderstood—saga of Biosphere 2

Episode 6 of Nice Try! visits the Arizona research facility that began as an experimental space colony and ended as a lesson on hubris and human nature.

Shutterstock via Curbed
Shutterstock via Curbed


Escape fantasies have long fueled the search for utopia—that irresistible notion of putting everything wrong in the rear view and casting out to a new world of your own making. In the late 1980s, a motley crew of ecologists, engineers, artists, and an eccentric billionaire embarked on an experiment to see if humans were able to colonize space, presuming that the earth would, at some point, become uninhabitable due to environmental collapse, nuclear war, or some other catastrophic event. And thus, Biosphere 2—one of the strangest research experiments of the 20th century—was willed into existence.

Located in Oracle, Arizona, Biosphere 2 is an enormous, geometric steel-and-glass building that contains replicas of the ecosystems on earth, the original biosphere. It cost $200 million to build, and $1 million a year to operate. In 1991, eight researchers sealed themselves inside to study how the environments—a coastal desert, an ocean complete with coral reef, a tropical rainforest, a grassland, and a mangrove wetland—would evolve and if they could sustain human life.

Episode 6 of Nice Try! features interviews with Tony Burgess, ecologist and desert designer for Biosphere 2; Pascale Maslin, an environmental scientist and participant in the second Biosphere 2 mission; Mark Nelson, director of the Institute of Ecotechnics and a Biospherian from the first mission; and Rebecca Reider, author of Dreaming the Biosphere: The Theater of All Possibilities.

Read on HERE >>> Source: Curbed Inside the strange—and misunderstood—saga of Biosphere 2

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