Thursday, September 20, 2007

Time to surf!

Don't you think this is a nice picture. It's Biosphere2 in backlight (photographer is flickr alias ericvh, you find his profile and more of his photos here). Biosphere2 was meant to be a gigantic perpetum mobile, built as a selfsustaining eco system providing both water and oxygen to the inhabitants. Among other things you find in there is an ocean and a savanna. 1991 six persons moved in an the doors were sealed tight behind them. Nothing from the outside world were to be allowed inside, not a single molecule. The aim of the project was to... was to...

And that's what's proved to be the snag of the thing. What I learned via media at that time was that this was a scientific study to learn thing useful for longtime spacetravels (at least this is what I recall). But the bionaut soon disagreed on the aim of the project. Was it a scientific study, a business project (it was a private company that payed the whole thing), or an arts installation. People who had been friends for a long time stopped talking to each other for years, even after they had left the biosphere. That the oxygene level sunk alarmingly and that they weren't able to feed themselves properly probably added to the tension.

Perhaps the conflicts could have been avoided if anyone had taken a look at psycological studies made at persons living isolated in small groups. Because there are actually persons living under similar conditions, eventhough they don't have a bonsai ocean handy. One way is to go sailing, make a long trip and stay at sea for a very long time. Another way - the one most studied - is to go on scientific excursions in the Antarctic, living completely isolated in small groups for as long as six months.

Today Biosphere2 is managed by Arizona University, and you are alowed to visit the place. Guided tours are arranged for a fee. If I ever get a chance to visit the USA again I'll try to get there. I have a soft spot for the project. After all, my own vegetable project is something similar; trying to sustain edible life in a totally weird place. And it's worth pondering that one of the big mistakes was to not look for lessons already learned. I'll spend some more energy trying to understand ordinary indoor gardeners, as well as look for predecessors to my vegetable gardening.

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