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BioSphere 2

 

If you are ever in Arizona and in the Tucson area then 1) what the hell are you doing here and 2) you should check out BioSphere 2. Yes, this is the place where BioDome was filmed but beyond that there is much more to this place then what took place in that movie.

 

BioSphere 2 is where a group of BioSpherians (no joke, that's what they called themselves) tried to live inside this "habitat" with no outside help for food or anything. The "Human Missions" took place in the early 90's and they tried to live by themselves for 2 years but failed. Even though they "failed" according to the press, during the tour of this facility the tour guide brought to our attention several things that were not a failure.

 

BioSphere 2 has 4 biomes which represent different climates from around the world. There is the rainforest (with an actual waterfall), the ocean (with an actual ocean), the desert (with actual snakes), and the water and life experiment which was currently under construction during our visit.

 

For me, being an engineering major, this place was freaking awesome! It was amazing to see all the details they thought of to try and isolate humans inside this facility for 2 years without any outside help. We are talking about the humans growing and eating their own food and so forth. It was pretty incredible. If you have no interest in engineering then this place has some awesome exhibits and the people who designed the certain biomes can probably work at Disney or a zoo with the amount of detail they put into the exhibits.

 

Anyway, onto the pictures with both Serious (S) and Not So Serious (NSS) comments...

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S: We have arrived at BioSphere 2. It's called BioSphere 2 because Earth is BioSphere 1

NSS: BioSphere 2. It's way the hell out in the middle of freaking no where!

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S: Here's a brochure for reading pleasure.

NSS: Here's all you need to know about BioSphere without taking the expensive tour.

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S: More stuff on the brochure.

NSS: This report is already boring me and I'm writing it.

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S: This is more of the outside of the Biomes.

NSS: Doesn't it kind of look like Journey into Imagination at Epcot? Now I'm just waiting for Figment to pop out and say hello.

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S: This is where the BioSpherians slept when they were locked inside.

NSS: Snipers hang out up here.

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S: They were trying Solar Power experiments outside.

NSS: What they didn't tell you was that there was a house under this hill and these were its windows.

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S: These guys were extremely interested in Solar Power.

NSS: This guy just ripped a huge fart.

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S: After the Human Experiment failed, Columbia University took over BioSphere 2 and these were their casitas they stayed in.

NSS: Major keggers were had in these houses.

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S: All along the path to BioSphere 2 they had Petrified Wood displayed.

NSS: Haha...wood.

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S: They also had some huge rocks that were really gems stones.

NSS: If I could steal this, it would be worth a lot at a pawn shop!

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S: Still making our way to the tour route we decide to look at the view.

NSS: "What the hell is that over there?"

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S: There was still snow on the mountains.

NSS: The mountain was balding.

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S: Checking out the view.

NSS: "Cassie, can you find the tour route? I think we're lost!"

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S: Tour Route this way.

NSS: Last time to turn back before you are bored out of your mind!

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S: It's mating season.

NSS: Our Tour Guides for the day.

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S: Making our way to the entrance.

NSS: I have nothing witty to say here except I think the BioSphere is happy to see us.

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S: Going inside the airlock

NSS: Notice the wheelchair out front? If you are handicapped they make you walk through the whole place...even if you have broken legs you still have to walk.

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S: Jeff Johnson's relative.

NSS: Jeff Johnson's relative.

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S: That way to the top of the lookout tower...where the BioSpherians slept.

NSS: Call of Duty fans would love this tower for some sniping action.

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S: An exhibit showing stuff.

NSS: It may look like a 6th grader did this but in fact this was a UofA alumni who did this...shows that we are smart here at the UofA

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S: We made it into the rainforest.

NSS: This is where Predator hangs out.

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S: Here's the waterfall in the rainforest.

NSS: Not recommended to cliff dive off this waterfall...you will not survive

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S: The rainforest was very humid inside and they were having some ongoing experiments for the UofA.

NSS: Fern Gully was filmed here.

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S: This is the walkway above "The Ocean" part of BioSphere 2. Columbia University put in the pathways when they took over.

NSS: People used to jump off these cliffs into the ocean so they added the handrail.

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S: There's the beach and the ocean complete with a coral reef.

NSS: Looks like the Skipper's Boat crash landed here.

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S: BioSpherians used this to make tequila.

NSS: BioSpherians used this to make tequila. Then they got drunk and had parties all night long. That is the main reason why the experiment failed.

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S: This is the "Marsh" section of the biome.

NSS: I'd love to get lost in there...wouldn't you?

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S: These windows surround the entire BioSphere. They do not block out UV rays as they needed them for the plants and food to live.

NSS: If you throw a rock at these windows, then the whole thing will collapse

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S: This is what the windows look like from the inside.

NSS: I can see my house from here!

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S: This is looking down at the coral reef from the bridge. The BioSpherians used to have many fish in here and the caught and ate them.

NSS: This is where the BioSpherians went to the bathroom.

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S: This was our tour guide...he was awesome!

NSS: This was our tour guide...he was pretty damn boring. I do not recommend him AT ALL!

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S: This is a tree

NSS: This is a tree named after Frankenstein

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S: They made Tea out of this bush.

NSS: Hahaha...bush.

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S: This lonely flower was in bloom in the desert.

NSS: The only thing that was really alive in the BioSphere

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S: As you guessed it, we made it to the desert.

NSS: Cacti are sharp.

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S: That funky looking rock is the area where the wind comes up from the "dungeon" and keeps this area the temperature they want it to be.

NSS: There's a hole in that rock!

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S: More Cactus. And surprisingly, these cactus are not native in Arizona.

NSS: I love Cactus Candy. If you haven't had Cactus Candy then you need to try it. It will make a diabetic like Dan in an instant.

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S: Here's a bushy Cactus.

NSS: This baby is female.

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S: Right above the desert area there was the "Mountain" area which wasn't really a mountain. But remember those rocks I was telling you about earlier? That is how they make the "Mountain" area cooler than the desert area.

NSS: A tree provides shade if it mature. A tree provides falling objects from its branches if its immature.

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S: Here is a Monkey Tree.

NSS: Monkey's are found climbing these trees at night. How they get in is still a Mystery that hasn't been solved on Unsolved Mysteries.

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S: Time to make our way to the underground part of BioSphere 2.

NSS: Time to walk to our deaths.

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S: This is where the engineering part takes over. The designers thought of every little thing that could go wrong and built machines that could fix themselves. I wont go into detail but some of the stuff was insane to think of!

NSS: The guy in the yellow shirt really wants to push a button and see if something goes terribly wrong.

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S: This tunnel leads us to the "Lungs" of BioSphere 2

NSS: I feel like I'm about to be taken into a shower and be gassed.

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S: Going into the "Lung" of BioSphere 2.

NSS: Now I really feel like I'm going into a gas chamber.

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S: Here is the "Lung". It is basically a pressure control device built so that BioSphere 2 doesn't explode from the inside from too much pressure.

NSS: Haha...I totally blinded our tour guide. Now he doesn't know where to go.

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S: In the afternoon, the glass heats up and the pressure builds up so this "Lung" raises and lowers. The pool in the middle is where all the excess water drains and is then filtered for watering.

NSS: I recommend jumping in the water to cool off, that's where everyone goes to the bathroom when the ocean is too full.

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S: Here is the "Lung" from the outside. It really was a cool room and it's something you have to see with your own eyes to understand how it works.

NSS: It's like a boob without the nipple.

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S: That is the Energy Center where they burn tons of diesel fuel to power the entire BioSphere 2

NSS: If you light a match over there then all of Tucson will explode.

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S: Here's what it looks like from behind the scenes.

NSS: Seriously, where is Figment?

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S: This is where a UofA student was doing an experiment about the effects of having plants and soil on roofs to seal in the cooler temps of a house.

NSS: Cassie's dad is about to make this experiment get some completely wrong data

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S: The Tour has ended inside an aquarium they set up near the "Ocean" part of BioSphere 2.

NSS: This is where Finding Nemo was filmed

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S: The Biospherians did not eat these fish. They were for display only.

NSS: Swim Nemo! SWIM! He's catching you!

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S: This is what the water looked like in the "Ocean".

NSS: Looks like Catalina snorkeling water

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S: The Aquarium setting was very well themed.

NSS: Building this themed area was the main project the Biospherians did when they were locked up inside.

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S: More themed parts.

NSS: Don't forget the emergency fire looking coral to the left.

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NSS: All the MegaShark scripts were written by a BioSpherian. Here's where he got his ideas.

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S: Once outside we could see lots of fruit in the "Rainforest" section.

NSS: I think that tree is happy to see me.

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S: Now it was time to check out where the Biospherians lived.

NSS: Going up the sniper tower with gun in hand to take out some bad guys!

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S: Here's one of the rooms.

NSS: I wonder how many times that desk was used for something other then writing on.

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S: The kitchen, where they cooked every meal they ate for the 2 years they were inside.

NSS: Kitchen complete with beer fridge.

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S: Time for us to say good-bye to BioSphere 2

NSS: I'm still waiting for Figment to pop up.

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S: If you are in Tucson and have a couple hours to kill, I recommend checking out one of the Top 100 Wonders of the World. It was pretty awesome.

NSS: Good-Bye Journey to Imagination and Figment will pop up soon. Maybe a photoshop is in place.......

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NSS: I was in Tucson last October and am not upset about missing this.

 

S: Actually, the former engineering student in me finds it interesting.

Edited by larrygator
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^ Just you? How is that gonna work for the future of civilization?

 

 

Jimmy, I gotta admit, this was pretty fascinating.....even to a non-engineer and person who generally laughed his ass off at the project when it took place.

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Ah! I was in the Tucson area a couple summers ago and I did indeed wonder what I was doing there, before visiting the BioSphere! My friend and I had a good laugh about it at the time, about how interesting a project it was that was just sitting there, largely (apparently) purposeless. Great TR, I found it really interesting (architecturally and engineeringly) and I enjoyed reliving it a bit. But not reliving Tucson. Definitely don't want to do that.

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Very interesting to see! I wouldn't make a special trip for it, but if I was in the area I'd love to see it. I, too, am curious how long they actually lasted in there.

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For those curious how long they lasted, I think it was something like 2 years and 20 minutes...it fell short of their goal but I can't remember what the goal was. One of the Biospherians named Jane Poynter wrote a book about how they epically failed at life and how much weed they grew inside the BioSphere 2.

 

Jimmy "I have a weed BioSphere" Bo

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