Remnants of the Biosphere. — Ah, yes, the idealism of the biosphere. You’d think they could have least used this structure as a hothouse for tomatoes. This is utopianism’s end-result. Always.

Photographer Noah Sheldon got in touch the other week with a beautiful series of photos documenting the decrepit state of Biosphere 2, a semi-derelict bio-architectural experiment in the Arizona desert.

Found by Aric Mackey.

  1. green says:

    Starring Pauly Shore of course.

  2. dusanmal says:

    If you look through whole article you’ll notice that there are living and thriving plants there. The state is not “decrepit”. Nature took over and what can grow is growing and what can’t is not. Hence the state is Natural. If biologists have any brains they’d congregate there and study what actually works in such setup, even without human attention.

  3. Waltersobchack says:

    I thought this thing was built to study science and what how we might design structures and systems that could exist in outer space.

    I had no idea it was designed to be an idealized utopia.

    Also it’s still open and in use, still gathering useful information and data.

  4. chuck says:

    Stick Al Gore inside it. He can figure out how to fix global warming. We let him out when he’s done.

  5. Greg Allen says:

    Utopianism? Really?

    Was it billed that way?

    I always thought of it as an experiment. Something like this will be needed for long-distance space travel.

  6. Greg Allen says:

    >> # 5 chuck said, on January 10th, 2010 at 8:19 pm
    >> Stick Al Gore inside it. He can figure out how to fix global warming. We let him out when he’s done.

    Oh snap. Another non-funny Al Gore zinger.

    The right wingers desperately need some new material.

  7. sargasso says:

    #6. yes, ostensibly for space travel, but secretly to lock up a team of vegetarians to see which one turns cannibal first.

  8. ArtSpot says:

    what do you mean… the biosphere works!#?! it is simulating the earth and what will eventually happen. my predictions, within a few decades.

  9. ECA says:

    bIO 1 WAS BOUGHT OUT AND they are studying what is going on inside.
    Humans had a couple problems there..
    1. TO HOT
    2. To much Oxygen
    3. to LITTLE oxygen
    They couldnt control it..WHICH is what MAN wants to do.

  10. Greg Allen says:

    >> pedro said, on January 10th, 2010 at 10:14 pm
    >> #6 No, but it’s what it turned out.

    It turned into some utopian effort? I guess I missed that part.

    I do remember they where caught cheating at some point — by venting in some air or something.

    Outside of the utopian angle, I remember thinking it was a pretty cool project to attempt. I’ve seen closed systems with plants and frogs and whatever but to include humans is whole new level.

    This raises another issue — I am a little surprised at how cynical this blog is about science, experiments, studies, etc. I would expect more enthusiasm for pure research from people who are interested in technology.

    I, myself, love experiments and studies and don’t mind using my tax dollars on them. (I don’t think biosphere was governmental, was it?) As I understand science, you’re going to get lots of failures for every success.

    It strikes me as foolish how Americans think nothing of blowing up multi billions of dollars worth of weaponry in dubious wars but then get their panties in a bunch over a teeny small fraction of that being spent on some dubious science experiment.

    I’ll gladly opt for the relatively cheap goofy experiment over the budget-busting goofy war!

  11. Postman says:

    It looks like they ran out of money and stopped taking care of it.

  12. Dallas says:

    The biosphere evolved to hydroponics.

    Nice try to getting the conservative sheep all excited with a picture suggesting failure of chemical free crop farming.

  13. ArianeB says:

    There are still scientists working there and the place is still open to the public. Scientific American Frontiers did a show from there about how they are studying the affects of increased carbon dioxide and heat on various environments.

    Guess what, its not very good!

    In a sense what those pictures really show is the future of Biosphere 1 (the Earth).

  14. DBR says:

    Other utopian failures:

    human hygiene

    The American Revolution and
    its Constitution

    the horseless carriage

    human flight

    racial equality

    personal computers

    The list is endless. Oh, the humanity! Why, why do we even try?

  15. RBG says:

    14 Dallas “Nice try to getting the conservative sheep all excited with a picture suggesting failure of chemical free crop farming.”

    Not to mention the moment they thought of liberalism and JCD’s “This is utopianism’s end-result.”


  16. Kneejerk Optimist says:

    It was originally the dream of an eco- survivalist cult, run by a loose screws guru and funded by one of his wealthy followers (an heir of a Texas oil fortune). It was an interesting idea, though, caught a lot of media attention and after it failed (apparently due to the absorbing of precious oxygen into its concrete foundations) it was for a while the subject of some serious bio research unrelated to its original purpose. Sad to see its currently derelict condition…although one would have to wonder why people would try to live in a greenhouse in Southern Arizona anyway (no matter how kooky they were).

  17. Mr. Fusion says:

    #16, pedro

    So whatever happened to that experiment you did with your pet goat? Is it still on going?


  18. Wretched Gnu says:

    Yeah, John, everybody involved with the Biosphere project thought they were creating a Utopian world.

    You should read what you type before hitting “submit” sometimes…

  19. deowll says:

    If I recall this was a private venture. In other words not my problem.

  20. clancys_daddy says:

    I thought it was stupid the first time I heard it while getting my BS in biology. Oh so many years later I look back, yep it was stupid.

  21. Mr. Fusion says:


    I thought it was stupid the first time I heard it while getting my BS

    If you got a BS then yes, you are stupid.

    How the hell can anyone get a degree and not understand the premise of an experiment.

  22. JimD says:

    Utopianism or “SCIENTIFIC” HUCKSTERISM ?


Bad Behavior has blocked 5516 access attempts in the last 7 days.