Growing Wild in the Biosphere

Growing Wild in the Biosphere

Inside Biosphere 2, Arizona is a complete ecosystem meant to keep a group of people alive for months on end. That project ended years ago but the building remains and it’s worth a visit if you’re in the area!

Just in case you didn’t see yesterday’s post, 3 hotel rooms going for free on the 25th of September if you’re going to the photowalk the following day! Just leave a comment if you can definitely go and want to be in with a chance to win.

I thought there might be a rush on this but, boy is it proving hard to give away such a good prize! I’ll just have to claim one of the rooms for myself! :)

Aperture ƒ/6.3
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 10mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/100s

Biosphere 2 Lung

Biosphere 2 Lung

As Biosphere 2 is a self contained and airtight structure the air inside would expand and contract on warm and cold days which could cause the building to explode or implode!

Two lungs were built to cope with this effect. One of them is pictured above. As the air in the building warmed up the black lung would expand and the roof of this room lowered. When we were there they opened an outside door to ventilate the room and the roof slowly fell. It was quite a sight to see and the draught out the door was enough to make it hard to be heard over the whine.

More on the Biosphere 2 lungs here and here.

Biosphere 2 needed something like a bellows, a lung!
Biosphere 2 would heat up like a greenhouse and cool during the night and during cold, cloudy days. The expansion and contraction would subject the rigid steel and glass structure to enormous pressures as the air inside expanded and contracted. On a hot day, pressure would push out. On a really cold day, Biosphere 2 might implode.

Bill Dempster, Director of Engineering Systems, had an inspired solution, and in time Biosphere 2 got a pair of lungs, or “variable expansion chambers”. The two lungs took the form of graceful hemispheric white domes which protected the liner from wear and tear of the Sun. Both domes, 150 feet away from Biosphere 2 had underground air tunnels connecting them to the main structure. Inside each tank and connected to each tunnel, a gargantuan synthetic rubber membrane with a circular metal top moved freely up and down on a cushion of air.
As air inside Biosphere 2 expanded from the Sun’s heat, it flowed through the tunnels and into the lung, raising its top. As air cooled, the lungs deflated.

Aperture ƒ/3.5
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 10mm
ISO 1600
Shutter speed 1/25s

Biosphere 2

Biosphere 2 lies in the dusty hot desert in Arizona. It was originally designed as a self contained “world” where scientists stayed for an extended period of time. After going through the tour, there’s no way I’d volunteer to spend my time inside. It must have been very difficult being cooped up in one building. The Wikipedia page on the project has a lot more detail about what went on there.

Anyway, the building is very striking to look at, especially as the day was fine and interesting clouds added to the scene.

Aperture ƒ/8
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 10mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/200s

No. 2400

No. 2400

At Biosphere 2 in Arizona the land around the main building was sold to developers to fund the experiment and for maintenance. Unfortunately all the houses there looked very empty, but maybe that was because it was in January and in the off season.

Aperture ƒ/9
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 10mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/250s