Scenic USA - Arizona

Biosphere 2

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Biosphere 2 - Oracle, Arizona

Photos by Marty Straub
Marty Straub Photography

     Big news in the 90s, and almost forgotten today, Biosphere 2 still stands on its elevated ridge at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains. Recently added to the list of Wonders of the World, Interior View - Oracle, Arizona this Arizona desert setting attracts nearly 60,000 visitors a year. Once billed as mini world, the structure remains the largest closed building system ever constructed. Hoping to build an isolated, livable world, Biosphere 2 contained a rainforest, small ocean (complete with coral reef), a mangrove swamp, grasslands and desert biomes.
     Two experiment periods, utilizing a crew of eight people, lasted a total three years. The first two year closed-in mission saw the crew's slow adaptation to a nutrient-dense diet consisting of 83 percent complex carbohydrates. Second year medical tests indicated the crew enjoyed excellent health, with readings showing lower cholesterol and blood pressure, an enhanced immune system, and a more efficient metabolism.
     Here at Bioshere 2 just north of Tucson, CO2 level problems, rumors of food smuggling, data Main Biosphere 2 Building - Oracle, Arizona tampering, management and staff disputes went on to change headlines and public perception of the project. First press releases shouted, the most exciting project since the first moon mission. Later, picking up on staff member dissent, headlines panned the project as a 150 million dollar publicity stunt.
     Today, the University of Arizona manages Biosphere 2, using the massive building for climate studies. Lessons learned range from design and construction methods to confined environmental psychology studies. For tours, movies and exhibits, Biosphere 2 is open every day of the year except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

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