Author Topic: Interesting article on Biosphere 2  (Read 374 times)

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Offline Desert Fox

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Interesting article on Biosphere 2
« on: April 03, 2019, 06:29:44 PM »
It is definitely science related but otherwise don't know where to post it.
Still, I wanted to share it

They did learn a lot over the course of the experiment and while a failure in some sense, it cannot really be considered a total failure. I would argue that it is basically impossible to make a fully self sustaining habitat on the first try.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/29/sunday-review/biosphere-2-climate-change.html
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Re: Interesting article on Biosphere 2
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2019, 07:36:42 PM »
That's in my town :)

Online daniel1948

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Re: Interesting article on Biosphere 2
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2019, 08:21:04 PM »
I have not failed 50 times. I have succeeded in finding 50 ways that do not work. Judging by the article, there was a constant flow of supplies into Biosphere 2. That doesn't mean it didn't work. It just means it did not do what it was intended to do: Be self-sufficient and self-contained. A better way to operate it would have been to recognize from the start that it would be impossible to build a self-contained environment in one go, and plan from the start to run it for brief periods, a week or a month at a time, then analyze problems and make modifications. The moment the hummingbirds start to die off or the oxygen starts to drop or the CO2 starts to rise, figure out why, open the environment, make changes, and then close it up and see if the changes helped. A decade of doing that might have produced some useful information.

Or, we could say they did produce useful information: The whole idea of a small self-sustaining environment is a bust. Stuff will go wrong that needs outside intervention.

It probably didn't help that the whole concept was thought up by nut jobs.
Daniel
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Offline DevoutCatalyst

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Re: Interesting article on Biosphere 2
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2019, 08:34:53 AM »
I have not failed 50 times. I have succeeded in finding 50 ways that do not work. Judging by the article, there was a constant flow of supplies into Biosphere 2. That doesn't mean it didn't work. It just means it did not do what it was intended to do: Be self-sufficient and self-contained. A better way to operate it would have been to recognize from the start that it would be impossible to build a self-contained environment in one go, and plan from the start to run it for brief periods, a week or a month at a time, then analyze problems and make modifications. The moment the hummingbirds start to die off or the oxygen starts to drop or the CO2 starts to rise, figure out why, open the environment, make changes, and then close it up and see if the changes helped. A decade of doing that might have produced some useful information.

Or, we could say they did produce useful information: The whole idea of a small self-sustaining environment is a bust. Stuff will go wrong that needs outside intervention.

It probably didn't help that the whole concept was thought up by nut jobs.

Are you onboard for a one way trip to Mars now?

Offline 2397

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Re: Interesting article on Biosphere 2
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2019, 09:07:25 AM »
I have not failed 50 times. I have succeeded in finding 50 ways that do not work.

Yep, that's the scientific process.

Online daniel1948

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Re: Interesting article on Biosphere 2
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2019, 09:26:33 AM »
I have not failed 50 times. I have succeeded in finding 50 ways that do not work. Judging by the article, there was a constant flow of supplies into Biosphere 2. That doesn't mean it didn't work. It just means it did not do what it was intended to do: Be self-sufficient and self-contained. A better way to operate it would have been to recognize from the start that it would be impossible to build a self-contained environment in one go, and plan from the start to run it for brief periods, a week or a month at a time, then analyze problems and make modifications. The moment the hummingbirds start to die off or the oxygen starts to drop or the CO2 starts to rise, figure out why, open the environment, make changes, and then close it up and see if the changes helped. A decade of doing that might have produced some useful information.

Or, we could say they did produce useful information: The whole idea of a small self-sustaining environment is a bust. Stuff will go wrong that needs outside intervention.

It probably didn't help that the whole concept was thought up by nut jobs.

Are you onboard for a one way trip to Mars now?

I get motion sick on rocking chairs. I'd never survive nine months in microgravity. Plus, going from Maui to Mars is like going from triple-Dutch-chocolate cake and pecan pie to cow pies. Never again paddle a canoe on warm, flat, blue water among breaching humpback whales or walk up the side of a mountain or breathe fresh ocean air or see a sunset or walk on a beach while the waves wash over your bare feet! Go from a place with modern medicine to a place without diagnostic machines and only those medicines that someone thought to include in a list a year ago, where the doctor carries all his equipment in a little black bag, and if the one doctor dies, there's no more doctor, and the dentist has nothing but a plaque scraper and a pliers and his little mirror for looking at the back of your teeth. A place where if the crops fail one season you go hungry until the next, assuming you survive at all. The Donner party had it good compared to what the first Mars colonists will have.

Hell, I would not even volunteer for Biosphere 3 here on Earth, not even if it had a secret back door to let in fresh air and to get deliveries of anything I wanted, including sex workers.
Daniel
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Online Ah.hell

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Re: Interesting article on Biosphere 2
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2019, 11:07:02 AM »
It probably didn't help that the whole concept was thought up by nut jobs.

Anything to back that up.  I don't doubt, I'm just pretty sure the stories would be amusing.  I know one of the guys was big on the starvation diet thing.

Online daniel1948

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Re: Interesting article on Biosphere 2
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2019, 01:56:41 PM »
It probably didn't help that the whole concept was thought up by nut jobs.

Anything to back that up.  I don't doubt, I'm just pretty sure the stories would be amusing.  I know one of the guys was big on the starvation diet thing.

Nope. No citations or evidence here. I just remember that the whole idea seemed wacky, and it was clearly not well thought-out. As I mentioned earlier, a proper research team would never have imagined that a first run of the environment should be multiple years. You do short runs first and check conditions, modify and repeat, until you have an environment that seems stable, before you go to multi-year runs.

And you don't sneak in supplies and give out that the thing's sealed. If supplies or air are needed it means the system is not self-sustaining and needs to be modified. This was run like a perpetual-motion-machine scam: Cheating so people would think you have something that runs forever when in fact it needs continual inputs.

The real lesson of Biosphere 2 was that it's really really hard to create a self-sustaining environment. And if you can't do it on the Earth you sure as hell ain't gonna be able to do it on Mars. At least on the moon you could have a ship prepped and ready to return to Earth when something inevitably goes haywire and life support systems fail or somebody has a serious accident or the place becomes so overrun by cockroaches that they clog the air vents. What Biosphere 2 showed is is that we're damn lucky to have the Earth, and we better take care of it because there's no second chances.
Daniel
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Offline Desert Fox

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Re: Interesting article on Biosphere 2
« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2019, 05:30:14 PM »
If theyclaimed to succeed in their first try, I would be concerned actually.
Basically there were simply too many factors to understand them all.
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Online daniel1948

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Re: Interesting article on Biosphere 2
« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2019, 05:36:11 PM »
If theyclaimed to succeed in their first try, I would be concerned actually.
Basically there were simply too many factors to understand them all.

I think what you mean is that they cheated in too many ways, too many times, for any of their data to have any scientific usefulness.
Daniel
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Offline Desert Fox

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Re: Interesting article on Biosphere 2
« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2019, 06:12:26 PM »
This is what a poster on another forum wote:

The problem with B2 was its over ambitious all-at-once mentality, where you have a d-day when it's sealed and then it has to be totally 100% self-sufficient for years and years and also more biodiversity than noah's ark (I mean freakin lemurs?!?)

It also has the hallmarks of a billionaire's vanity project, where cool sciencey stuff is more central objectives than actual science. If it hadn't already been done, I'm sure Elon Musk would think of it as a good idea to "test a Mars space station".

A gradual, practical approach with limited partial objectives would be much more likely to succeed. First you just try to have a balanced natural air conditioning. Then you have hydroponic gardens to provide like 50% of calories of the personnel in the form of simple carbohydrates whilst like proteins or vitamins still come from the outside. And so on. And you maybe still have only 98% or 99% as ultimate objective, not 100%, as "good enough", as it means a settlement that needs very little supply.

100% from day zero is just daft and setting up yourself for guaranteed failure, but I suppose it's more media-friendly than "we've reduced our supply need tonnage by 10%".
"Give me the storm and tempest of thought and action, rather than the dead calm of ignorance and faith. Banish me from Eden when you will; but first let me eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge."
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