Biosphere 2 Lives On As Singular Research Space

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The eight original inhabitants of Biosphere 2 left their glass terrarium a quarter-century ago last month in two groups that no longer talked to each other. Detractors had called the $150 million experiment a failure because oxygen had to be pumped into what was supposed to be a self-sustaining system.

But University of Arizona officials say that 25 years after that New Age-style experiment in the Arizona desert the glass-covered greenhouse thrives as singular site for researchers from around the world studying everything from the effects of the ocean's acidification on coral to ways of ensuring food security.

Biosphere 2 outside Tucson, AZ
Credit Jane Poynter

Biosphere 2's director Joaquin Ruiz says the controlled environment lets researchers conduct experiments they won't try outside for fear of unintended circumstances.