Midterms and a bit on Biosphere – Simone Chen

On a first note, I have to say that this was the most creative/unique midterm I have had so far.  I have had written ones, multiple choice (scan tron) ones, and both written and oral ones that covered past information and concepts, but never one requesting me to jump outside the box asking me to create and present an original project. Not only were the actual projects presented interesting (hopefully mine was considered one of those), the method of presenting the information we gathered and learned over the past 4 weeks or so was definitely unique. And there were quite a few projects that stood out in my mind (although every single one was definitely well thought out and presented in an organized manner, given that each person had 2 min. max!). For instance I remember:

          The dating one

          All-go-rhythm? (or something along the lines of that)

          The one concerning obesity (and having people wear “fat-suits”)

          Boxing and Robotics

There are simply too many to list out.

Alright now, jumping all the way back to Monday’s lecture, the one thing I found most interesting was probably the biosphere. The oncomouse was definitely odd in appearance and the differences between a clone and its original (e.g. Dolly) did spark my interest, however, the video that we saw about Jane Poynter really stood out amongst the rest.

Jane Poynter was a member of the Biosphere 2 project. “The 3.14-acre (1.27-hectare) Biosphere 2 was built in the 1980s to see if people could live in a self-contained enclosure, mimicking conditions space colonists would most likely face.” “In 1991, a crew of four men and four women locked themselves into a three-acre terrarium in the Arizona desert where they would live for the next two years – cut off from the outside world. They swore that nothing would go in or out… no food, no water, not even air. They would recycle everything – even drinking and breathing the same oxygen atoms over and over again. It was to be the ultimate extreme-green lifestyle.” They stayed in there for a grand total of 2 years and 20 min before returning into the “real” world.  First of all, I have to say that I praise their bravery, for living in some artificial environment completely different from their original environments for such a long period of time is definitely not easy. Second of all, the whole concept of biosphere is amazing. If we were able to travel to other ‘inhabitable’ planets, then the biosphere would be the perfect training ground for future colonists. Although Biosphere 2 was shut down in 1994, “the University of Arizona assumed management of research at Biosphere 2on 1 July 2007 and is breathing new life into the place. University scientists have already begun biological research there, and university officials hope to make it a center for scientists, as well as for the public.” It is currently being used to study the effects of global warming on “pinyon pines”.  

Oh, one more interesting thing. I found something called the “Beachworld Biosphere”, which is an “ecosystem” that thrives within a sealed glass sphere. “Light and heat help the micro algae generate oxygen and food for the resident freshwater shrimp (harvested from lava rock pools in Hawaii), which in turn produce carbon dioxide and nutrients for the algae to grow.”

 

Cool isn’t it? 

Sources:

http://www.janepoynter.com/biosphere_book.asp

http://www.b2science.org/news/B2Bioscience.pdf

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