The Biosphere 2: The lost history of one of the world’s strangest science experiments

Biosphere 2, view from the thornscrub, a transition zone between Savannah and Desert (foreground) and Ocean (background) sections. / Wikipedia

The hummingbirds were dying. Cockroaches were everywhere. And then Steve Bannon showed up.

By Carl Zimmer | The New York Times

Before dawn on April 4, 1994, Abigail Alling and Mark Van Thillo slipped across the foothills of Arizona’s Santa Catalina Mountains. They made their way to a looming monument of geodesic domes and pyramids known as Biosphere 2. The three-acre complex contained a miniature rain forest, a mangrove, a desert and a coral reef — along with seven people who had been sealed inside for a month.

Ms. Alling and Mr. Van Thillo had recently emerged from a two-year stay in Biosphere 2. Later, after they were arrested, they told reporters that they feared for the safety of the people inside. They were determined to bring the mission to an end.

They pulled open five of Biosphere 2’s doors and broke their seals. As outdoor air rushed in, they made their way to the ventilation system, where they smashed some glass panels.

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