The Wizards of Hokum

Like many grand enterprises dressed up as serious science, Biosphere 2 is part publicity stunt

At dawn outside Oracle, Ariz., this week, amid Indian chants and whirring cameras, four men and four women clad in bright red jumpsuits will wave % farewell to this world and enter a newly minted one. For two years they will live inside a sealed terrarium, about the size of 2 1/2 football fields, that mimics a more primitive earth. Tending their crops and livestock, they will receive nothing from outside. Dubbed Biosphere 2 (the earth is Biosphere 1), the glass-and-steel-enclosed structure has been seeded with 3,800 species of plants and animals in five different wilderness ecosystems: a desert, savannah, rain...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!