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  1. #1
    I like SF. SF is cool. Steven L Jordan's Avatar
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    Reboot the Biosphere Project?

    A recent article in IO9.com advises that the Biosphere projects should be revived.

    I agree: We have no hope to establish sustainable bases in space or on other planets unless we understand how to create a sustainable biosphere... and so far, we do not. The Biosphere experiments here and in the Soviet Union have demonstrated that we don't have the environmental, agricultural or biodiversity specs down. Further, the hardships of living in a struggling or failing biosphere space creates dysfunctional co-workers. We need to figure out the psychological and sociological needs and parameters of the crew in such a system.

    Or maybe, the idea of creating an Earth-like biosphere in a place other than Earth is sheer lunacy, and we need to start thinking of systems that are totally unlike "transplanted Earth" but still sustainable.

    This is an area that could use some fresh investigations and approaches in SF lit (see the "What's missing in SF" thread); I may even write one myself. Any thoughts from the gallery?

  2. #2
    Registered User mylinar's Avatar
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    Thats interesting. I'd fogotten about the Biosphere project. Perhaps it was too grandious to work right and we should start from the bottom up.

    I remember seeing a glass sphere that had water, 1 plant and some kind of minor animal in it (sorry this is vague). It was claimed that as long as the sphere got normal light it would continue in equilibrium. It was sold as a novelty. [can anyone help my fading memory here as to what these are called].

    Assuming I am remembering correctly perhaps we start with something like that, make it a bit bigger and add a new couple of things to it and see if it can be sustainable. Keep at this looking for where things break down. It is a lot easier debugging a small system than a large complex one and you learn things in a incremental fashion.

  3. #3
    I like SF. SF is cool. Steven L Jordan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mylinar View Post
    I remember seeing a glass sphere that had water, 1 plant and some kind of minor animal in it (sorry this is vague). It was claimed that as long as the sphere got normal light it would continue in equilibrium. It was sold as a novelty. [can anyone help my fading memory here as to what these are called].

    Assuming I am remembering correctly perhaps we start with something like that, make it a bit bigger and add a new couple of things to it and see if it can be sustainable. Keep at this looking for where things break down. It is a lot easier debugging a small system than a large complex one and you learn things in a incremental fashion.
    Yup, we had one of those, and gave one to a relative as a gift (I forget what they were called too!). As I recall, even the critters in that biosphere eventually died, though it might have been from an outside source (such as too much heat from direct sunlight) that did them in. They are still sold, I see them in stores now and then.

    I agree that working small and scaling up as you go would be a good way to continue the experiment... possibly even multiple parallel experiments, each investigating a different biological system/aspect, to be combined later to see how they work together. And it could be that some isolation of bio-projects is essential to their success in an artificially-closed system.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Steven L Jordan View Post
    A recent article in IO9.com advises that the Biosphere projects should be revived.

    I agree: We have no hope to establish sustainable bases in space or on other planets unless we understand how to create a sustainable biosphere... and so far, we do not. The Biosphere experiments here and in the Soviet Union have demonstrated that we don't have the environmental, agricultural or biodiversity specs down. Further, the hardships of living in a struggling or failing biosphere space creates dysfunctional co-workers. We need to figure out the psychological and sociological needs and parameters of the crew in such a system.

    Or maybe, the idea of creating an Earth-like biosphere in a place other than Earth is sheer lunacy, and we need to start thinking of systems that are totally unlike "transplanted Earth" but still sustainable.

    This is an area that could use some fresh investigations and approaches in SF lit (see the "What's missing in SF" thread); I may even write one myself. Any thoughts from the gallery?
    I agree. I think the lax nature of the development of the technology is due to the fact the need is not that urgent yet where our backs are to the wall where it is do or die.

    Have you ever read The Biological Time Bomb?

    That book covers everything from biological warfare to sending robots in space to introduce new chemistry to planets to make them more suitable for human life.

    If such a biosphere was to be built for space, it would also need artificial gravity and shielding from radiation.

  5. #5
    I like SF. SF is cool. Steven L Jordan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Modern Day Myth View Post
    If such a biosphere was to be built for space, it would also need artificial gravity and shielding from radiation.
    I think the necessity of gravity for various biological systems (not just our own) needs much further investigation. At least rotation of structures in space should be eminently workable, but there may be some organisms and processes that should thrive in microgravity, and we'd be better off leaving them there.

    In the case of radiation, I think investigation is not necessary, we just need to develop physical or energy-based shielding methods that will work from large structures down to space suits (or else make all EVA activity the domain of robots... not a horrible idea, but clearly less romantic than heroic astronauts on EVAs).

  6. #6
    I am working with biospheres in my series. I watched Aeon Fluxx the live action movie and The Starlost as references and I read The Biological Time Bomb years ago.

    Biospheres became mandatory after World War III on Earth that was a nuclear war that ended all human life. Three military cyborgs survived the human race. They left Earth to go to an Earth-like planet in another solar system where one of the cyborgs was built. From there, they send back spaceships to Earth with cyborgs who built biospheres and cloned humans to live inside the biospheres to give the human race a second chance with one major change; the cyborgs took over world security to prevent the humans from repeating the history that ended them the first time.

    So, biospheres is something I am researching myself.

  7. #7
    Another movie to use the biosphere idea is Silent Running.

  8. #8
    I like SF. SF is cool. Steven L Jordan's Avatar
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    One of my favorites.

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