Miniature Sealed Self-Sustaining Ecosystem

By Anupum Pant
  1. 53 years ago, David Latimer (80) from Surrey planted an indoor Spiderwort in a huge glass globular bottle. He has watered it just once, in the year 1972. Since then, this self-sustaining ecosystem, has been sealed away from the outside world for around 40 years. In spite of being sealed away like that, the plant has grown very well in its own miniature ecosystem [Picture]. The only regular external energy it has received has been in the form of light. [more about this self-sustaining ecosystem and how it works]
  2. The EcoSphere or the Original EcoSphere takes it to the next level by introducing a shrimp in a similar setting. Like David Latimer’s bottle, this is also a self-sustaining ecosystem consisting of algae, bacteria and shrimp. The company that sells these things says that the shrimps would last for just around 10 years. Although, they also claim of 25-year-old spheres with living shrimps.
    10 years is little as compared to the ecosystem discussed in the first point. But we are talking about a pet living in a completely sealed space for 10 years, without demanding food, change of water or an appointment with the vet. For these little creatures it is probably a safe haven away from the dirty oil slicked oceans and predators; or probably just a prison.

These little biospheres are a far simpler and smaller versions of our big worlds. We are like the shrimp and the trees, our algae. This diagram explains in a simple way, how these artificial, extremely simplified versions of Earth work – [Diagram]

The shrimp and algae biospheres were discovered by two scientists, the late Dr. Joe Hanson and the late Dr. Clair Folsome. Later, NASA became interested in these systems. There got interested because:

  1. This tiny model of the Earth could add information to NASA’s Mission to Planet Earth program for studying Earth’s biosphere.
  2. It could help NASA’s research on human life support systems directed toward the construction of space stations for exploring our solar system.

Make it for yourself: Make magazine published a detailed DIY guide on how to create these living biospheres at home. [Link] Carl Sagan’s Review of these biospheres: The World Arrived in The Mail.

Random Foliage Fact:

The world’s smallest park is located in the median strip of SW Naito Parkway, approaching esplanade along the Willamette River near SW Taylor Street in downtown Portland, Oregon, United States. Mill Ends Park, a 2 ft is a circular park, has held a place in the Guinness book of Records since 1971. It isn’t a park you can send your children to. – [Wikipedia]

Is There a Scientific Explanation for Everything?

By Anupum Pant

Today we have Dr. Eben Alexander III, an American Neurosurgeon and the author of a number one New York Times bestseller, in the house. Well, not really, but let us imagine he is here with us.

Background: Dr. Eben Alexander has been a member of the American Medical Association, a neurosurgeon and has taught at the Harvard school of medical sciences. He has spent a lot of time among scientists believing that there is always a scientific explanation for everything. But, one day, he experienced something that defied all scientific explanation. Turns out, there isn’t a scientific explanation for everything. Later he went on to write a number one New York Times bestselling book – Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife.

Like logical open-minded Possibilians, let us read the book first, to start arguing against it. I haven’t read it yet. So, for now, I’ll stick to writing about just what I’ve learnt about it, rather than formulating theories against it.

The story: In the year 2008, Eben was affected by a severe case of bacterial Meningitis and fell into a coma for 6 days. His Neocortex showed no signs of activity. When he got cured miraculously (with just 2% survival chance) and returned from coma, he had experienced something out of this world. According to him, during the coma, he had experienced a vivid journey into the afterlife – kind of a near death experience.

The experience: When he fell into coma, he found himself in a dark and suffocating place for a very long time. Later a spinning bright light with a beautiful melody came in slowly and “rescued” him out of this agony. It took him to a fertile green land. Some points that he makes about this mysterious land:

  1. There was no need for a spoken word to communicate there. Every communication was telepathic.
  2. The instant you asked questions, you knew the detailed answers for those questions. (Something similar to the experience of Zen)
  3. The experience was more real than real-life. In comparison, real-life seemed like an illusion.

You can watch a 42 minute long interview here for further details. [Video] I’d also suggest reading: Supernatural: Meetings with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind

Possibilianism

Although we’ve progressed a lot in science and technology in the past 400 years, there is a much more science doesn’t explain than there are things it can.

For instance, to make our equations sound right, we assume there is something out there we can’t touch, feel or sense in any way; we choose to call it dark matter. The most incredible thing – 90% of our universe is dark matter (and dark energy). That is too much to sweep under the rug. And we know nothing about it.

In the words of David Eagleman – “Our ignorance of the cosmos is too vast to commit to atheism, and yet we know too much to commit to a particular religion.”

Or in the words of Carl Sagan – “An atheist is someone who is certain that God does not exist, someone who has compelling evidence against the existence of God. I know of no such compelling evidence. Because God can be relegated to remote times and places and to ultimate causes, we would have to know a great deal more about the universe than we do now to be sure that no such God exists. To be certain of the existence of God and to be certain of the nonexistence of God seem to me to be the confident extremes in a subject so riddled with doubt and uncertainty as to inspire very little confidence indeed.”