A Day in the Bio-Dome

by Rachel Gertz

Day 75

Bio-Dome was a terrible movie from 1996 starring Pauly Shore and Stephen Baldwin. As far as I can remember, these two dickweeds accidentally get locked in a bubble with a bunch of scientists, act like morons, and emerge a year later somehow smarter or more compassionate about the environment or some other inane crap.

Turns out this steaming pile of detritus was a parody of a real experiment called Biosphere2 located in the heart of Arizona. Who Knew?

The actual experiment was an attempt to see if we could create a completely contained, self-sustaining ecosystem and support human life for an extended period. It was a controversial, privately funded effort with the aspirations that similar biospheres could be used to support life on the moon and planets for years at a time.

The experiment itself turned out to be a bit of a joke in the science community and regarded as “New Age drivel masquerading as science”. After one and a half attempts, the missions fell apart. The story of its demise is actually more interesting than the experiments themselves. I encourage a gander through the Wikipedia page.

Since the 90’s, the facility has been bought and sold by a few different organizations and is now run by the University of Arizona and open for tourists to wander through. Today we went on a tour of this place.

As silly as the people around the original experiment were, this $150 million dollar bubble is a technological marvel. It houses seven different simulated ecosystems including the ocean, rain forrest, savannah, mangrove, desert, agriculture, and modern human habitat. It was originally airtight and nothing could enter or escape, including food, water, air, or humans. These are the things of science fiction, people.

If you find yourself anywhere near Tucson, Arizona in the next while, definitely take the trip. If not, just watch Bio-Dome. Actually, just read the Wikipedia page. I wouldn’t wish that film on my worst enemy.

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