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How long can humans live in a closed ecosystem?

A question I accidentally read.

By Nguyen DuyPublished 2 months ago 3 min read
How long can humans live in a closed ecosystem?
Photo by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash


The world's oldest enclosed terrarium by David Latimer, the Terrarium is a miniature self-sustaining ecosystem also known as a basin or landscape. It's usually a moisture-resistant plant that's planted inside a large closed glass vessel. In 1960, David Latimer, an electromagnetic engineer in Southeast England, washed a 38-litre glass bottle, which was used to store sulfuric acid, he poured the mixture into a jar, planted a few spider grasses in it, watered it and then closed the jar. Latimer put the jar under the stairs in the house where there was indirect sunlight from time to time, and he turned the jar to make the leaves grow evenly. Since then, this closed ecosystem has beenined and developed strongly without interference, the only time the vessel was opened in 1972. David just needs some water. So exactly how a terrarium works and why it can sustain itself for decades, you could say explosive or exaggerated, but in essence it's a terrarium that can be seen as a tiny Earth but without humans and animals, in fact it has all three important cycles of life: the water cycle, the oxygen cycle and the nutrition cycle. The water is absorbed by the roots of the plant and then released from the leaves, condensed in the wall of the vessel and flowing back into the soil, the plant photosynthesizes and releases oxygen, and then uses it to breathe and to release CO2, while the bacteria in the ground use Oxygen to break down the leaf and release CO2 to the plant for fotosynthesis. The boy is covered, and the Earth is isolated by a space vacuum with limited resources, only the sunlight is almost infinite and it's free, so now you can see how similar these two things are. Because all resources are recycled and preserved, so in theory, a perfectly optimized terrarium can sustain itself for a very long time. However, balancing conditions such as light, humidity, temperature, plant type, microorganism, and pot size is not easy. In fact, Mr. David Latimer's reservoir is one of the best closed ecosystems on the planet. On average, reservoirs only sustain themselves for a few months to a few years before being damaged due to a lack of necessary degradants and cycles that are not completed effectively, and if nothing changes, Mr David Latimers reserver can continue to grow for decades while its owners die of old age and poor health.


When I came here, I suddenly had an unexpected thought: how long can one live in a closed ecosystem, not the Earth. On September 26, 1991, eight volunteers moved to Biosphere 2, a research facility that simulated a closed ecosystem isolated from Earth's ecosystems in southern Arizona. American Biosphere 2 was built between 1987 and 1991 on a plot of 1.27 hectares with a budget ranging from $150,000 to $200,000. Its original purpose was to demonstrate the viability and sustainability of a closed outer space ecosystem to serve the future human space colonization process. Under the steel and glass structure. The experts simulated many organisms including 1900sqm of rainforest. 850 square meters of ocean with coral formation 450 square feet of open ground 1300 square meter of lawn 1400 square metre of desert Along with a 2,500-square-metre farm with human living space as well as laboratories, eight volunteers lived there for two years, not because they missed their home or gave up, but because the conditions inside the super terrarium were no longer suitable for humans. After 16 months, the initial oxygen level at 20.9% has dropped. 14.5% is equivalent to breathing at an altitude of about 4080 meters, so you can imagine, although I'm pretty sure that 99% of people who read this article have never climbed 4000 meters. To save oxygen, the volunteers were forced to make all the movements from work to life slowly. If you look at Biosphere 2 from the outside, it's like watching a boring slow-movie, but not enough oxygen to cause sleep disorders and even a coma. Some volunteers feel like they're climbing all the time. Some people have to talk about stopping to breathe. The scientists deceived a little by injecting more oxygen in August 1993, but the experiment ended on September 26 of that year. The second trial was conducted in March 1994 and had to be completed in early September due to the collapse of the company that owned and managed Space Biosphere Venture. (SBV). In both trials, oxygen levels were decreasing and food sources from farms were insufficient, except for ants and cockroaches.


So the answer to the question. How long can a human live in a closed system? That's two years if you eat oxygen and food or less than two years when you're with someone you don't like.


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Comments (1)

  • Anna 2 months ago

    Haha, the being with someone you don't like thing was so real at the end! Great article, well done! :)

NDWritten by Nguyen Duy

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