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mp4 | mov | hd-appletv| 3gp |3g2 | itunes | blip | youtube | pdfThis weekend, watch the video, download the pdf and create a closed system to live on your windowsill! If you have an aquarium, you probably have all the chemicals you need for this. If you have to buy new chemicals, you’ll have enough for hundreds of biospheres! – Subscribe Link Weekend Projects is sponsored by Microchip Technology. Check out their seminars and the Microchip Masters Conference.


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  1. mfryer100@hotmail.com says:

    The statue of liberty gives the pickle jar biosphere a nice post apocalyptic touch.

    You maniacs! You blew it up! Damn you! Damn you all to hell!

  2. Bre says:

    mfryer100, it’s comments like this let me know that weekend projects viewers really get it. (pounding fist on the sand)

  3. shawnconna says:

    The MAKE interns put together a biosphere, complete with snails and a ghost shrimp. We sealed it on March 31, 2007. As of Friday, July 27, 2007, all inhabitants were alive and well. That’s almost 4 months of closed system goodness on my windowsill!

  4. mjb2000 says:

    love the statue of liberty. maybe you could do a whole “global warming” series of national landmarks under water.. from the washington monument to mt. rushmore.

  5. Bre says:

    An Atlantis series would totally rule. Go for it!

    1. Josh Enfield says:

      Hi and im Josh Enfield so Bre i have had a go but my sis put thim in the bin yes i had printed them. (oh and i like the idea lol plus can i ask you if you can do a vid on how to make something thx for looking)

  6. terrie2 says:

    I was wondering if you can skip the de-chlorination step if you use distilled water for this project…anyone know?

    I’ve never heard of anyone suggesting distilled water for aquarium use, so maybe it’s not appropriate for some reason.

  7. phildavi says:

    I’ve been eying this video for quite some time.It’s nothing new to me but then I can speak/boast on it until I do it myself.Also I’d like to check out how long a bottle made biosphere ‘ll last.Also I’d like to experiment with locally available resources.Would like to introduce this in schools in Bangalore.Have roped in my fishery scientist brother into this.Will soon be reporting on this………….

  8. mjb2000 says:

    i’m excited to see (from my own little vanity searches, i admit :) that a number of people are giving this project a shot. i know that there will be a temptation and sometimes a need to substitute ingredients.

    if you do vary the recipe, remember this at least: keep the animal biomass low… you need a plant:animal ratio of 20:1 or 40:1 to have a chance of supporting those animals. It is very unlikely that a fish will survive. Then when it dies, the nutrients released from its body will cause an algal bloom that will probably reduce oxygen levels further, killing other animals.

    so stick with small, invertebrate econauts. they’re the best crew for this journey.

    godspeed! mjb

  9. peamonster says:

    The snails will eat the bond weed, then there’ll be no oxygen, the shrimp will die and all you’ll have left is half mud and half water.

  10. peamonster says:

    Oops, pond*. I think this experiment would work better in a 5 or 3 gallon water bottle you get with water dispencers. Then you could have more plants, more animals etc. But having snails is a very bad idea, snails never stop eating and they lay eggs in batches of hundreds.

  11. mjb2000 says:

    Hey peamonster, thanks so much for the input. I think your critique might make sense for the idea of just putting some pond animals in a jar and seeing what happens, but if you read the recipe in the pdf you’ll see that this design is a little more thought out than that. The shrimp used in the recipe is an algae eater… it will mostly leave the vascular plants alone. The vascular plants will be healthy enough that, given sufficient sunlight, they will photosynthesize and produce sufficient oxygen for the animals to live. Other measures, such as the nitrate poor freshwater, are designed to aid in the control of oxygen. Recipes like these can keep shrimp alive for many months, as comment #4 shows. In any case, if you test out a better recipe I would love to hear about it! cheers! dumbmailATmartinjohnbrownDOTnet

  12. mjb2000 says:

    oops, i meant comment #3.. from the MAKE interns, reporting shrimp viability at 4 months. anyway, these things can work if you do them right. the snails do reproduce, yes, but this might be considered a sign of success rather than failure. the nutrient limitation imposed on the jar will keep them from getting superabundant. cheers, mjb

  13. araf says:

    Does this biosphere survive in an environment where there is no sunlight?

  14. araf says:

    Does this biosphere survive in an environment where there is no sunlight?

  15. Archvillain says:

    I added a biosphere symbol label to the Make flickr pool, to stick on the lid to make it look less like a jam jar :-D
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/archvillain/970796031/

  16. peamonster says:

    “Does this biosphere survive in an environment where there is no sunlight?” A basic lesson in plants: plants need sun and water. You might just get away with no sun but not much oxygen will be made, killing off anything that’s living in there.

  17. peamonster says:

    I didn’t see the pdf so i’ll read it in a minute. I don’t think this is truly self sustaining as when the shrimp dies, everything else will, unless you put a few in for them to breed which is where i think my 5 gallon water bottle idea would come in handy.

    I’ve been keep snails for years and if they’re anything like water snails they will eat everything and breed everywhere. I do know that there are some plants they just won’t eat, so maybe someone could experiment with that. One of these are spagnum moss which i use for the substrate. If it makes enough oxygen you could make a platform above the water for it to grow, but if it’s above the water the snails won’t touch it anyway.

    I have one question, if you only have micro animals like cyclops, would pond weed make too much oxygen? Do these animals even produce CO2? Or would the algae make enough oxygen. Peter

  18. araf says:

    Well, I asked the question for one reasonsI have an office which does not have any sunlight. I was hoping that you may suggest something other than a “lesson,” which is already well-known and which informed my question.

  19. araf says:

    Well, I asked the question for one reason: I have an office which does not have any sunlight. I was hoping that you may suggest something other than a “lesson,” which is already well-known and which informed my question.

  20. araf says:

    Well, I asked the question for one reason: I have an office which does not have any sunlight. I was hoping that you may suggest something other than a “lesson,” which is already well-known and which informed my question.

  21. araf says:

    Well, I asked the question for one reason: I have an office which does not have any sunlight. I was hoping that you may suggest something other than a “lesson,” which is already well-known and which informed my question.

  22. mjb2000 says:

    araf, abundant light is an absolute requirement, because you need light so photosynthesizers can produce oxygen. however, the light can be from a light bulb. see the pdf for recommended levels.

    peamonster, it sounds like you have been keeping snails in a standard aquarium. as you read the pdf you’ll see this is very very different from a standard aquarium. standard aquariums have high nutrient loads, low light levels, and a very low ratio of plant to animal biomass. this system has low nutrient loads, abundant light levels, and a very high ratio of plant to animal biomass.

    the pdf gives an introduction to the principles used in these kind of systems, but if you want to dig deeper, this link has scientific books and technical papers you can read. Beyer and Odum’s book is especially good for its comparison of aquariums vs. sealed microcosms.

    good luck!

  23. mjb2000 says:

    oops… here’s that link to the list of books & papers: http://makezine.com/10/biosphere/

  24. bonniegrrl says:

    And for an even geekier project, that’s less about biosphere and more about terrariums and Yoda, check this out: http://www.starwars.com/kids/activity/crafts/f20051116/index.html

  25. peamonster says:

    Actually i keep GALS (giant african land snails) and i know pretty much everything about them :P i’ve also tried to keep standard water snails in an aquarium of pond water.. or tap water, i can’t remember. It was probably tap water as it failed. But snails are designed to eat and poo almost at the same time constantly. So i would’ve thought you’d need the plants to grow faster than the snails eat, and breed!

    Sorry at araf.

  26. cephalopodcast says:

    Just finished uploading pictures and a video of my BioJar adventures, including links to lesson plans and other resources for making your own microcosm. Thanks for the inspiration!

  27. Sparks Research Group says:

    We did 3 separate biospheres with similar makeup, sealed em up on July 28th, 2007. Yesterday we had our first casualty. Econnaught number 3 went opaque and seems to be dead. That’s 132 days.

    The other 2 econaughts seem to be doing fine, and all 3 biospheres otherwise look about the same.

    Thanks for giving your all to science little econaught!

    Past pix: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11013593@N04/

  28. Dpent says:

    Pointing at the LCD episode – and it’s the default video when I arrive here.

  29. crackedatom says:

    PDF link doesn’t seem to be working

  30. Scott says:

    The PDF link isn’t working for me either, it just links back to the same page.

  31. annie12 says:

    Nice to be visiting your blog again, it has been months for me. Well this article that i’ve been waited for so long.
    http://www.astrabeds.com/adjustable-beds.html

  32. Josh Enfield says:

    oh im only 10 so plz don’t critasise my spelling at least i am better than a baby

  33. aj says:

    Can you just use legit ocean water