Thursday, June 28, 2007

New lease on life

The University of Arizona, the new tenant of Biosphere 2, got a peach of a deal. According to local reports, the University will pay $100 a year to lease the structure and some of the surrounding buildings, and the rest of their bills will be covered by a $30 million grant from the Philecology Foundation.

The Philecology Foundation? I hadn't heard of it, either. But the man behind it is none other than Ed Bass, who hatched the Biosphere 2 project in the first place.

I'll admit, it's a little weird. But the foundation has committed to supporting research at the facility for at least three years. According to a university press release, research areas will include "global climate change, the fate of water and how energy travels through Earth's ecosystems."

Said UA Associate Professor of ecology and evolutionary biology Travis E. Huxman, who will serve as director of "B2 Earthscience":

As a research facility, Biosphere 2 is unique in its spatial scale. The facility provides us a bridge between our small-scale, controlled, laboratory-based understandings of earth processes and experiments in field settings where we cannot control all environmental conditions. Biosphere 2's size allows us to do controlled experimentation at an unprecedented scale.

The Biosphere will continue to be open to public tours.

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