Biosphere II in the news 
Author Message
 Biosphere II in the news

This morning on the local news (KING TV, Seattle) I saw a short piece on
Biosphere II, the bubble environment in Arizona run by a cult.  The
short piece showed smiling partcipants filing off in jumpsuits.  The
newscast sounded like a PR piece from the cult that runs Biosphere,
with no mention of any of the controversy that I have read about on
this newsgroup.

I called the station and asked about where they got the piece, and
to see if I could interest them in the April 2 VILLAGE VOICE article
about Biosphere.  The news guy didn't seem too interested, and mentioned
that ABC had done a very favorable piece on 20/20 last year.  He
said that they ran it verbatim from material supplied to them by
the NBC affiliate in Phoenix.

Did anyone else see this footage?  It ran in Seattle on 9/23/91.

Tad Cook
Seattle, WA

Phone: 206/527-4089
MCI Mail: 3288544
Telex: 6503288544 MCI UW  
USENET:...uw-beaver!sumax!amc-gw!ssc!tad





Sat, 12 Mar 1994 14:35:22 GMT
 Biosphere II in the news

Quote:

>This morning on the local news (KING TV, Seattle) I saw a short piece on
>Biosphere II, the bubble environment in Arizona run by a cult.  [...]

Ummm.  Cult?!  Am I missing something here?  I thought it was funded by
some organization that wants to get scientific data on living in an isolated
environment in preparation for eventual space travel.  What does that have
to do with religion or cults?

.//.



Sun, 13 Mar 1994 02:29:50 GMT
 Biosphere II in the news

Quote:


> >This morning on the local news (KING TV, Seattle) I saw a short piece on
> >Biosphere II, the bubble environment in Arizona run by a cult.  [...]

> Ummm.  Cult?!  Am I missing something here?  I thought it was funded by
> some organization that wants to get scientific data on living in an isolated
> environment in preparation for eventual space travel.  What does that have
> to do with religion or cults?

There was an article in the April 2 Village Voice that was posted in
its entirety on here recently.  Appartently this "scientific" project
is not subject to any peer reveiew, and any scientitsts who talk
negatively about the project are subject to harrassment and lawsuits.

Tad Cook
Seattle, WA

Phone: 206/527-4089
MCI Mail: 3288544
Telex: 6503288544 MCI UW  
USENET:...uw-beaver!sumax!amc-gw!ssc!tad





Sun, 13 Mar 1994 15:51:31 GMT
 Biosphere II in the news

Quote:
> >This morning on the local news (KING TV, Seattle) I saw a short piece on
> >Biosphere II, the bubble environment in Arizona run by a cult.  The
> >short piece showed smiling partcipants filing off in jumpsuits.  The
> >newscast sounded like a PR piece from the cult that runs Biosphere,
> >with no mention of any of the controversy that I have read about on
> >this newsgroup.

   Being in Tucson, with Biosphere II only a few miles north, the project
makes the local news quite a bit. Particularly now that it is due to be sealed
up in a couple days. Last night channel 4 ran a half hour on Biosphere II.

   The bioshpere is not run by a cult, but a private company. The startup
money came from investors, mostly some Texas oil billionare, with the idea
to sell the patents on whatever inventions they come up with in the process.
I don't think they really expect to cover the entire 100 mil it took to
build the thing with the profits, but it should help offset the costs. They
plan to do some real science apparently.

Quote:
>Ummm.  Cult?!  Am I missing something here?  I thought it was funded by
>some organization that wants to get scientific data on living in an isolated
>environment in preparation for eventual space travel.  What does that have
>to do with religion or cults?

   Apparently the scientists and others involved have been a bit of a closed
group, and they haven't taken criticsm of the project well, they get very
defensive and tend to be quick with threats of lawsuits against detractors
of the project. Thus they can be likened to a cult, since we seem to be
dealing with a group of {*filter*} idealists here.
   Don't get me wrong, I support some of what they are trying to do, I am a
firm believer in the fact that we are going to have to get off this world
soon if we want to continue to advance. And the research they are doing is
going to be vital. The question remains what this group is going to do with
the data they gather, and how availible the results will be.

Andrew Cooper                           |   "Experience is directly

All ideas herein are products of my     |    ruined."  -unknown
own deranged mind.



Sun, 13 Mar 1994 08:48:30 GMT
 Biosphere II in the news

writes:
Quote:

> >This morning on the local news (KING TV, Seattle) I saw a short piece on
> >Biosphere II, the bubble environment in Arizona run by a cult.  [...]

> Ummm.  Cult?!  Am I missing something here?  I thought it was funded by
> some organization that wants to get scientific data on living in an isolated
> environment in preparation for eventual space travel.  What does that have
> to do with religion or cults?

> .//.

   In the 9/25/91 Des Moines Register there was a rah-rah article from the
Gannet wire service referring to the bioshereians as new age scientists.  Why
the wire service chose to use this oxymoronic near-neologism I have no idea
but I do keep hearing rumors that there is more than science as a motive for
biosphere II.  For example, that BS II is really a training ground for a
post-nuke/biowar/staock crash flight into space.  I remember no creditable
substantiation of any such rumor.

   Given the amount of research funded at one time or another by churches (e.g.
Catholic Colleges) I don't feel threatened by the new age trying to pick up the
bill for useful research, but, with their attitude I wonder if they can pull it
off...
                                                 Dan Ashlock

My own opinions; please add yours.



Sun, 13 Mar 1994 21:52:55 GMT
 Biosphere II in the news

Quote:


> >This morning on the local news (KING TV, Seattle) I saw a short piece on
> >Biosphere II, the bubble environment in Arizona run by a cult.  [...]

> Ummm.  Cult?!  Am I missing something here?  I thought it was funded by
> some organization that wants to get scientific data on living in an isolated
> environment in preparation for eventual space travel.  What does that have
> to do with religion or cults?

> .//.

        Yep, a cult. I posted the full text of the Village Voice article that
illustrated the somewhat kooky history of Biosphere II.

        Come to think of it, I still have to post the follow-up articles...
not to mention my last reply to Roy Stead.

""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""
Brian Siano,                                Delaware Valley Skeptics
Rev. Philosopher-King of The First Church of the Divine Otis Redding

""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""



Mon, 14 Mar 1994 01:12:07 GMT
 Biosphere II in the news
The only real problem I see with Biosphere II is that the technology
is applicable ONLY to the Earth (and maybe the Moon) because of
1-The vast amount of Solar energy available.
2-A fairly even split between hours of light and dark, which
simplifies the energy storage problem.

While this is important work, the methods that these people are using
lend credence to the cult notion.  Work like this should be open to
comments from the scientific community.

--

Field Robotics Center,          | necessary to the security of a free State,
Carnegie Mellon University      | the right of the people to keep and bear
Pittsburgh, PA, 15213           | Arms, shall not be infringed.
(412) 268-6557                  |



Mon, 14 Mar 1994 00:12:06 GMT
 Biosphere II in the news

]>
]>This morning on the local news (KING TV, Seattle) I saw a short piece on
]>Biosphere II, the bubble environment in Arizona run by a cult.  [...]
]
]Ummm.  Cult?!  Am I missing something here?  I thought it was funded by
]some organization that wants to get scientific data on living in an isolated
]environment in preparation for eventual space travel.  What does that have
]to do with religion or cults?

We have quite a bit of coverage of Biosphere here in AZ. In fact, it is now
the #2 or #3 tourist attraction in the state (Grand Canyon is #1). There
are several reasons to believe it is a cult:
  -it is run by one person, a multimillionaire who put up the money and
   is one of the "crew"
  -according to press reports I have read, it is of limited to zero
   scientific value.
  -there are a number of aspects of "gee whiz" about it:
    +They have a number of different "climate zones." Why do they do this
     rather than try for something more optimal?
    +They have an "ocean." Rather a large amount of mass for space travel.
    +They have quite a few animals that would be unnecessary for a space
     colony.
  -some press reports describe that attitudes of the group as more cult-like
   than scientific.

--
John Moore NJ7E, 7525 Clearwater Pkwy, Scottsdale, AZ 85253  (602-951-9326)

"It would be thought a hard government that should tax its people one tenth
part..." B. Franklin   - Standard Disclaimer Applies -
 - - Support ALL of the bill of rights, INCLUDING the 2nd amendment! - -



Sun, 13 Mar 1994 12:49:45 GMT
 Biosphere II in the news

Quote:

>We have quite a bit of coverage of Biosphere here in AZ. In fact, it is now
>the #2 or #3 tourist attraction in the state (Grand Canyon is #1). There
>are several reasons to believe it is a cult:
>  -it is run by one person, a multimillionaire who put up the money and
>   is one of the "crew"

Then I suppose Howard Hughes' development of the Spruce Goose was also a cult?
Or that, if the founder of a group rips off the members instead of using HIS
money to fund the group, it isn't a cult (gee, the Moonies aren't a cult;  how
about that!)?  This point seems to me to be entirely irrelevent.

Quote:
>  -according to press reports I have read, it is of limited to zero
>   scientific value.

This depends on both what you mean by "scientific value" and the outcome of the
experiment.  As to the first, I don't think I've ever heard anybody except
those trying to belittle the project claim that it is supposed to be of
scientific value (just as, until quite some time after Reagan announced SDI, I
never heard anybody but those opposed to it claim that it was supposed to be
able to defend all of our cities against an all-out nuclear missile attack).
The idea behind the Biosphere, as I understand it, is to try to develop a
self-sustaining ecology (just as the idea behind SDI was to ensure that we'd be
capable of launching a counterattack in the event of an all-out nuclear missile
attack, thus, in theory, discouraging a first strike).  Biosphere, as I
understand it, is not supposed to be a science project;  it's supposed to be an
engineering project.  Unfortunately, the American public and press are so
uneducated when it comes to science and engineering, that they can't
distinguish between the two.  If the Biosphere succeeds, it will be a
tremendous engineering accomplishment.  If it fails but the record-keeping
associated with it is good enough that another Biosphere that works better can
be designed, it's still a pretty damned impressive engineering feat.  If the
records are actually good enough to provide insight into the interactions of
the various parts of its ecology detailed enough that this insight can be
applied to other ecosystems, then it has substantial scientific value as well.

Quote:
>  -there are a number of aspects of "gee whiz" about it:                  
>    +They have a number of different "climate zones." Why do they do this
>     rather than try for something more optimal?

What, exactly, would be "more optimal"?  The whole idea of Biosphere is to try
to figure out how to build a self-sustaining ecosystem.  If anybody (you
included) already knew how to do this, the project would be pointless.  Since
we DON'T know how to do this, and since we know that biodiversity seems to be
important to ecological stability, it seems reasonable to incorporate some
diversity in the Biosphere.  It may not be optimal.  But unless you can point
out something that we KNOW is closer to optimal, you're just blowing smoke on
this point.

Quote:
>    +They have an "ocean." Rather a large amount of mass for space travel.

Not for a generation ship.  And why have you assumed that the only application
is space TRAVEL.  What about orbital habitats?  Also, an "ocean" provides
thermal buffering, among other things.  It might be that something like this
enhances the stability of the ecosystem.  Again, unless you can tell us WHY the
"ocean" might not be important to the sustainability of the ecosystem, you're
just blowing smoke.

Quote:
>    +They have quite a few animals that would be unnecessary for a space
>     colony.

Again, how do you know this?  Remember, it's easier to take something that
works and tinker with until you understand what makes it break, than it is to
take something that doesn't work and tinker with it until it works.  Sounds
like the Biosphere folks are trying to use the former approach (i.e., first get
something that works, THEN try to make it elegant), while you're claiming that
they should be using the latter (make sure everything is elegant, even it that
makes having it work less likely).

Quote:
>  -some press reports describe that attitudes of the group as more cult-like
>   than scientific.

This is, at least, marginally relevent to the question of whether or not this
is a cult.

In summary:  Many of your points imply that we already know how to build a
self-sustaining ecosystem.  But we don't, and the whole point of Biosphere is
to try to figure out how to do it.  It's not a scientific project: it's an
engineering project;  if some useful science gets done along the way, that's
fine, but it's not necessary.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Disclaimer:  Hey, I understand VAXes and VMS.  That's what I get paid for.  My
understanding of astronomy is purely at the amateur level (or below).  So
unless what I'm saying is directly related to VAX/VMS, don't hold me or my
organization responsible for it.  If it IS related to VAX/VMS, you can try to
hold me responsible for it, but my organization had nothing to do with it.



Mon, 14 Mar 1994 11:10:15 GMT
 Biosphere II in the news

Quote:

>There was an article in the April 2 Village Voice that was posted in
>its entirety on here recently.  Appartently this "scientific" project
>is not subject to any peer reveiew, and any scientitsts who talk
>negatively about the project are subject to harrassment and lawsuits.

For an experiment like this, what sort of peer review do you need?  If the dome
isn't sealed, it's a fraud.  If it IS sealed, and it goes belly up in a short
time, the setup (though not necessarily the experiment, since we'll now know
one setup that DOESN'T work) is a failure.  If it IS sealed and proves to be
self-sustaining for a fairly long time, then it's a success.  Since the funding
is private, I wouldn't expect to see any peer review until after the experiment
is completed, and then only if they try to publish the results in a
peer-reviewed journal.  Also, since the funding is private, if somebody makes
unsupported negative claims about the project which could endanger its funding,
lawsuits are certainly in order.  Happens all the time in the business world.

So it seems to me that the only two questions that need to be answered are:
Will there be any way to verify claims that the dome is actually sealed? and
Will the group actually provide detailed data about the setup?  If the answers
to both these questions are "Yes", I see nothing either wrong or unscientific
with the project.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Disclaimer:  Hey, I understand VAXes and VMS.  That's what I get paid for.  My
understanding of astronomy is purely at the amateur level (or below).  So
unless what I'm saying is directly related to VAX/VMS, don't hold me or my
organization responsible for it.  If it IS related to VAX/VMS, you can try to
hold me responsible for it, but my organization had nothing to do with it.



Mon, 14 Mar 1994 00:37:51 GMT
 Biosphere II in the news
A self sustaining eco-system has already been built.  A co-worker of
mine, from JPL, developed an enclosed ecosystem containing a shrimp
and some algea.  All that was needed was light.  The system would
continue to function for years.

Now, as to Biosphere II, the question that must be asked is NOT what
is the scientific value, but rather what is the application.  If the
intended use is for future extra-terrestrial application, they have
missed the mark by a country mile because of the enormous mass of
their system.  The cost of lifting one pound into LEO is about $1000.
Admittedly, this cost will drop.  However, the cost to lift a payload
to a designation outside of Erath gravitational field is significantly
higher, by at least an order of maginitude.  Just so you can see where
this is leading, taking a pound of water to the moon would cost
~$10,000.  A small swimming pool, 20'w x 40'l x (3'->6')d, has a
water weight of 224,640 pounds or a cost to the moon of 2.2 Billion
dollars.

Had this project been developed in the proper scientific fashion,
instead of being a cult idea, they would have had their ideas reviewed
by peer groups.  They would have been advised to think in realistic
terms.  Instead, they have simply developed a tourist attraction which
will yield little valuable scientific data.

--

Field Robotics Center,          | of certain rights, shall not be construed
Carnegie Mellon University      | to deny or disparage others retained by the
Pittsburgh, PA, 15213           | people.
(412) 268-6557                  |



Mon, 14 Mar 1994 23:51:44 GMT
 Biosphere II in the news
Quote:

>Now, as to Biosphere II, the question that must be asked is NOT what
>is the scientific value, but rather what is the application.  If the
>intended use is for future extra-terrestrial application, they have
>missed the mark by a country mile because of the enormous mass of
>their system.  The cost of lifting one pound into LEO is about $1000.
>Admittedly, this cost will drop.  However, the cost to lift a payload
>to a designation outside of Erath gravitational field is significantly
>higher, by at least an order of maginitude.  Just so you can see where
>this is leading, taking a pound of water to the moon would cost
>~$10,000.  A small swimming pool, 20'w x 40'l x (3'->6')d, has a
>water weight of 224,640 pounds or a cost to the moon of 2.2 Billion
>dollars.

The hope is that people living in off the planet will eventually be
able to manufacture much of what they need in right in space or on the
moon, rather than transporting materials from the Earth.  Of course
something built for the moon will not likely be as "pretty" nor as
extravagant as Bioshere II.  I just don't think the biosphere experiment
should be ridiculed on the basis of cost and mass.  Governments and
corporations tend to find the money for things they really want.

Quote:
>Had this project been developed in the proper scientific fashion,
>instead of being a cult idea, they would have had their ideas reviewed
>by peer groups.  They would have been advised to think in realistic
>terms.  Instead, they have simply developed a tourist attraction which
>will yield little valuable scientific data.

If the stucture proves to be self-sustaining then it damn well was
constructed according to scientific principles.  Even if nothing of
is gained, there's nothing wrong with a tourist attraction that gets
people to think of the environment and the future of humanity in
space.

Yes, these people seem a little weird.  But if you were going to be
locked into a building with the same 7 people for a two year period, I'd
think you would want to get along with the other people.  Maybe what we
are interpeting as clannishness is nothing more than the psychological
adaptation these people have gone through in preparation for being sealed
into a limited environment.

The project is funded by a single person.  Hurray!  If I were rich enough,
I'd love to do build something like Biosphere II.  Who needs to wait
for ump{*filter*} government and scientific committees to bicker over every
little stone and pencil that goes into a big project.  While I've been
trying to find a place that doesn't want *me* to pay them for recycling
my glass, these people have done something big.  

At worst we'll have a amazing building in Arizona to visit.  A few
more people might start thinking about environmental concerns.  And we
might even learn something. :-)

As for what the press reports ...ugh.  Remember, these are the people
who like to focus their cameras on any human {*filter*}stain they happen to
wander across.  They may talk about the horrible accident, but they're
zooming right in on the coagulating hemoglobin.  Newspeople love to
manipulate.  Given media mentality, they would think it more important
insinuate cultish behavior rather than say that Biosphere II was put
together by a few old hippies who stayed committed to the environment and
to each other.

In the meantime, write your objections down.  When the experiment fails
or when they open the doors two years from now, then hit them with
the questions.

-------...-------...-------...-------...-------...-------...-------...---

  (Chemistry Department)              As long as I don't want very much.
_______..._______..._______..._______..._______..._______...______...___



Tue, 15 Mar 1994 06:45:07 GMT
 Biosphere II in the news

Quote:

>  The news guy didn't seem too interested, and mentioned
>that ABC had done a very favorable piece on 20/20 last year.  He
>said that they ran it verbatim from material supplied to them by
>the NBC affiliate in Phoenix.

>Did anyone else see this footage?  It ran in Seattle on 9/23/91.

>Tad Cook

     Yes ! I saw it too. The sad fact is that local news in Seattle doesn't
really give any in depth coverage to events taking place in other parts of
the country. They're just receiving such news from network feeds and other
national newsfeeds. The problem is twofold, one is money, secondly the
subject is rather technological in nature. Give the press a science related
story no matter how bogus and they'll take it on faith. The Cold Fusion
controversy is a classic example of how the press is almost completely
technically ignorant.

     I think the major reason for this lack in awareness in technology is
due to the fact that journalists are by nature liberal arts majors and
shun anything and everything related to science. It in turn is also a
reason JZ Knight, Helen Caldicott and other kooks can gain a sympathetic
ear.

     Quite simply, the reason the guy wasn't interested was because he was
intimidated.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
-Pierre Stromberg         Microsoft Corporation       Bellevue, Washington.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
      "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions" - Karl Marx
---------------------------------------------------------------------------



Mon, 14 Mar 1994 23:41:16 GMT
 Biosphere II in the news

Quote:

>Had this project been developed in the proper scientific fashion,
>instead of being a cult idea, they would have had their ideas reviewed
>by peer groups.  They would have been advised to think in realistic
>terms.  Instead, they have simply developed a tourist attraction which
>will yield little valuable scientific data.

Umm, not to knock scientific orthodoxy or anything, but it's not the
only way to get good things done.  It's like claiming that if they had
wanted to do it properly, they would have brought in the government....
there are some things that the government may have helped them with,
and lots of other things that the government might really have screwed
up.

I find this apparent resistance to independent research very disturbing.
Lots of good science has been done in ba{*filter*}ts.  Sure, the big labs
have the equipment that ba{*filter*}ts don't, but they certainly have no
monopoly on ideas.  I find it encouraging that one man seems to have
had enough guts to say "What the hell! Let's find out!" when most
businessmen today, as always, seem most interested in lining their
own pockets. (ref. the CEO of Time-Life, who just laid off 600
employees while continuing to draw his own $78 000 000. annual
salary)

The really big question I have, though, is so what if it's not orthodox
science?  Say these people based their choice of included environments
on a coin toss, or the phase of the moon, or last week's winning
lottery numbers.  So what?  Does that imply an absolute certainty that
the project will fail?  And what if it does fail?  Who has been harmed?

As another poster pointed out, at least it's science (and you're
welcome to your opinion whether it's good or bad science) and it's in
the news.  I can't shake this feeling that some of the best ecologists
and environmental engineers of the next generation are, at this moment,
turning away from the TV and saying "Mommy, what's a biosphere?"

                                     -rocker

Quote:
>--

>Field Robotics Center,          | of certain rights, shall not be construed
>Carnegie Mellon University      | to deny or disparage others retained by the
>Pittsburgh, PA, 15213           | people.
>(412) 268-6557                  |



Tue, 15 Mar 1994 07:27:13 GMT
 Biosphere II in the news

Quote:

>A self sustaining eco-system has already been built.  A co-worker of
>mine, from JPL, developed an enclosed ecosystem containing a shrimp
>and some algea.  All that was needed was light.  The system would
>continue to function for years.

True.  I should have made myself clearer and emphasized that they're trying to
develop a closed ecosystem in which human beings can survive.

Quote:
>Now, as to Biosphere II, the question that must be asked is NOT what
>is the scientific value, but rather what is the application.  If the
>intended use is for future extra-terrestrial application, they have
>missed the mark by a country mile because of the enormous mass of
>their system.  The cost of lifting one pound into LEO is about $1000.
>Admittedly, this cost will drop.  However, the cost to lift a payload
>to a designation outside of Erath gravitational field is significantly
>higher, by at least an order of maginitude.  Just so you can see where
>this is leading, taking a pound of water to the moon would cost
>~$10,000.  A small swimming pool, 20'w x 40'l x (3'->6')d, has a
>water weight of 224,640 pounds or a cost to the moon of 2.2 Billion
>dollars.

Why do you assume that the material must be lofted from the Earth, or that the
application must be in the next few years?  We've already demonstrated our
ability to intercept comets.  Is it not possible that we might eventually be
able to break off and capture a chunk of one?

Quote:
>Had this project been developed in the proper scientific fashion,
>instead of being a cult idea, they would have had their ideas reviewed
>by peer groups.  They would have been advised to think in realistic
>terms.  Instead, they have simply developed a tourist attraction which
>will yield little valuable scientific data.

Again, if the Biosphere even comes close to working, and they're keeping any
sort of detailed records, it might turn out to be of substantial scientific
value.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Disclaimer:  Hey, I understand VAXes and VMS.  That's what I get paid for.  My
understanding of astronomy is purely at the amateur level (or below).  So
unless what I'm saying is directly related to VAX/VMS, don't hold me or my
organization responsible for it.  If it IS related to VAX/VMS, you can try to
hold me responsible for it, but my organization had nothing to do with it.



Tue, 15 Mar 1994 13:57:17 GMT
 
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