Biosphere 2: Isolated Living in Arizona

Biosphere Arizona
Biosphere 2 – Arizona’s experimental domes

With many of us living under ‘lockdown’ and stuck in our homes due to the Coronavirus, I’ve been wondering what it would be like to live in isolation for a long period.

The nearest I’ve come to that experience was a trip to Biosphere 2 near Tucson, Arizona which wins the prize for ‘weirdest place I’ve visited’ on my travels.

Biosphere 2 is most famous for a futuristic eco-experiment which took place 30 years ago when eight scientists were sent to live together, cut off from the outside world for two years. They were joined on their mission by 3,800 animals species.

It sounds like the plot of a sci-fi novel or an experiment on the International Space Station. What could possibly go wrong? And what can we learn from it today during the lockdown?

“Planet in a Bottle”

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Visiting Biosphere 2 is a strange experience. Plonked down in the middle of the Sonora Desert and overlooked by the Santa Catalina Mountains, it’s a strange sight with its white domes and glass pyramids.

Once inside, there’s a definite sense of being on another planet – a bit like our own – but clearly we’re arrived in another parallel world. I found it fascinating, if a little surreal and futuristic.

It’s hard to imagine how the eight ‘guinea pig’ scientists lived this place for two years without going completely stir crazy. Their story has echoes of being stuck in TV’s “The Big Brother House”, but for a much longer period of time.

Biosphere 2 was designed to test whether humans could thrive in a closed environment which replicated ecosystems on Earth. The dream was that it might show us if humans could live on Mars.