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2019-03-29. The Lost History of One of the World’s Strangest Science Experiments.

posted Apr 5, 2019, 12:26 PM by Alan Gould
By Carl Zimmer, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/29/sunday-review/biosphere-2-climate-change.html] For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 1. Excerpt: ...No one had ever built a sealed ecological world as big as Biosphere 2, and no one had ever survived so long inside one. The project would later be dismissed as a folly and a waste of effort. And yet, 25 years on, it’s an experiment worth rediscovering. Biosphere 2 might have some lessons to offer about managing Biosphere 1 — our planet. ...As Biosphere 2 took shape in the desert, it racked up headlines (“Desert Dreamers Build a Man-Made World” reported this newspaper).  ...The project, as fanciful as it sounded, had deep roots. Scientists coined the word “biosphere” in the 1800s, and in 1926, the Russian scientist Vladimir Vernadsky published a book dedicated to the concept. To Vernadsky, the biosphere was the self-sustaining ecological web of life that formed a skin on the planet. ...It soon became clear that raising food in Biosphere 2 was a major challenge. The weather was cloudy for the first few months of the mission, stunting the growth of crops. The Biospherians had to break into a three-month supply of food that had been secretly stored away before the doors had closed. Then Biosphere 2 began to lose oxygen because the soil had spawned an explosion of oxygen-gulping bacteria. The crew felt as if they were living at 14,000 feet. A truckload of liquid oxygen finally saved them; as soon as the gas began spraying into Biosphere 2, they began racing around in joy....