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A Sealed Garden That Was Watered Once in 53 Years (2017) (biologicperformance.com)
412 points by hairytrog 37 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 164 comments



After initial transportation failures, sealed terrariums were used by Robert Fortune to send stolen tea seedlings from China to India,[1] thus helping the British to break the nineteenth Century Chinese monopoly on tea production.

[1] https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00H9J1AM2/


That same old war, even today.


Why were sealed terrariums needed?


In the mid-19th Century it was called a Wardian Case[1], named after the inventor.

I recall the issue was with the transported seeds failing to germinate after arrival in India.

This NPR article is a review of the book linked to above and has more details, including an excerpt:

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=125237...

[1]https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/11/how-a...


The seeds transported on their own would begin to germinate during the long voyage to India. The terrariums allowed the seeds to start sprouting and growing in a healthier environment than in the ships holds.


Funny wording to use "break" for IP theft, it looks different when the British do it compared to when the Chinese do it, doesn't it?


The concept of IP didn't exist back then plus he did say the seeds were stolen.


In 1848? It most certainly did. First modern patent is probably the system in Florence in the 1400's, but versions of the concept date back to 500BC. First US patent was 1790.


Even patents/copyright are eventually broken.

IP rights are an exchange of temporary protection for ideas and implementation, in order to encourage both innovation and disclosure.


There's a difference between ressources and IP.


Not for cultured saplings. A plant growing in the forest is a resource, a carefully bred strain cultured over hundreds or thousands of years is nationalized IP.


> a carefully bred strain cultured over hundreds or thousands of years is nationalized IP

Is that just your opinion, or is there an internationally accepted legal framework around that? Could you perhaps post a link where I might learn more?


Just opinion... this kind of theft predates current law, though. Think of the silkworm smugglers [1] as well. Some crops an agri/zoo cultures were considered strategic resources and tightly controlled by the state. No idea what current international law says about stuff like this.

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smuggling_of_silkworm_eggs_i...


It was the prevailing opinion at the time, and many compnies, some state-owned, have and do own patents on plants and their derivitive compounds. While its possible laws and treaties existed then, I am unaware of, I understand it was a literal trade secret, that had been stolen. It would not be hard to interpret that as theft (literal; of seedlings, or monetary; by damages) regardless of precedent. I know contries are still very protective. https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/crime-and-court...


Is there? We patent plants on one hand and on the other use raw ideas as a resource to build virtual and financial empires.


I'm pretty certain Monsanto disagrees with that statement.


The lines get real blurry with GMO.


Is there? If I steal a prototype from a company or tea saplings and ruin the companies business? If there is any it looks very superficial to me.


People don't generally know much about plant breeding, so they have no appreciation for it. They think almost production-ready lineages just grow out there, god-given to the humankind. They don't realize there can be 10s or 100s of years R&D work behind a cultivar.


You can’t steal something that’s not legitimately your property. IP isn’t a justified legal concept, it’s a form of illegitimate regulation used by corporations to cement monopolies and threaten the competition with legistlation


How do tangible property rights differ?


If you take someones intellectual property, they still have it too. If you take someones tangible property they don't have it anymore.


If you take somebody else's opportunity to monitize their ideas, then they don't have it anymore


Property is physically defined, and is justified as an extension of actions (I have a right to think for myself, therefore act on my own thoughts, therefore shouldn't be interfered with. I am taking the action of "storing this object I made" (for example), so to steal it is to infringe on my action is to infringe on my right to think for myself is to infringe on my rights).

"Intellectual property" is a bad analogy to physical property, isn't justified by such a chain of reasoning, and in fact the IP enforcers are infringing on the rights of the second inventor (or in our mess of a legal system, the person who failed to file papers with the government first).


I wonder if part of what makes it work is luck of the draw wrt. the microbial life that was present at the start. You need stuff that will break down the dead plants at a good enough rate but nothing that competes for resources or produces anything toxic to the plant. Or maybe that's a typical microbial makeup for sample of gardener's compost?


I tried this myself and can attest that it worked for at least one year. I basically grabbed some dirt + a ground cover type plant + some water and sealed it in a large glass bottle (1 gallon glass milk jugs work too). So I don’t think you have to be that lucky.


Negative feedback loops?


Yeah I don't know if you noticed the white patch on the lower part of the terrarium, that to me looks like a mix of the plants root system and mycorrhizal fungi, so there should have been microbes present within the soil when it was first planted.


There would have to be microbes in the soil breaking it down and releasing CO2 so the plant could get its carbon.


> In fact, more than a century has passed and David’s sealed bottle garden is still thriving and robust as can be.

I'm not sure the author knows what a century is.


53 Years. Almost certainly meant to include the word "half".


That is a much better theory then mine that AI wrote the article and just messed up a couple details.


Came here to say that as well.


Any one know what sort of jar that is? and/or where to buy one?

Edit: its called a demijohn if anyone else was curious, used for making wine


They're also called, or very similar to, "carboys". Google says they're called "jimmy johns" in USA, but I've no knowledge of that.


demijohn are a bottle in a wicker wrapping. Once you get to large glass bottles like this breakage is real issue so it makes sense to wrap them so they can be moved with less chance of breakage. Note that if you do build one of these, be VERY careful moving them as they can break with a small slip and the large pieces of glass can easily cut tendons, leading to lots of long term issues.


Demijohn is just a large glass bottle in en-gb usage, usually with straight sides and circular handles, holding just under 5 litres. Example: https://www.wilko.com/en-uk/wilko-demijohn-container-glass-4....


They're also called carboys in the US. Nice brewing shops will have a variety of sizes and shapes to choose from.


Thanks! I was curious about that myself. They seem quite pretty and a nice size for an 'experiment' like this.


Are there any canonical guides to building a jar-rarium? Lots of crappy YouTube videos but nothing very thorough and complete.


This guy's youtube channel is a great resource for terrariums https://www.youtube.com/user/SerpaDesign


oh yeah, these are nice videos, just watched a few.


Unfortunately in German but still pretty easy to get some information out of and it has DIY guides: https://ulfsoltau.wordpress.com/


I've heard good things about this company https://botanicalboys.com/


The video in the article is pretty good at explaining all you need to know on how to do it.


what is your climate?


I live in Singapore. high humidity, heat year-round and little change in sunglight:per day.


Did anyone try introduce an animal in such a closed system, insects for instance. Does it self sustain ?


I saw a shop selling these once: https://www.ecospheres.co.uk/ . They contain small marine shrimp, and "The only care the sphere requires is a source of indirect natural or artificial light" and they "have an average life expectancy of 2-3 years however it is not uncommon for them to survive for 7 to 10 years"[0].

[0] https://www.ecospheres.co.uk/what-is-an-ecosphere/


If you read up on this, you'll find a lot of not-very-nice things said about ecospheres.

The shrimp inside are ʻōpaeʻula [0] which evolved to live in volcanic tide pools filled by rainwater. Sort of a feast or famine environment where the salinity and nutrients available are very volatile. Because of that, the shrimp have evolved to handle a wide range of temperatures, salinity, and scarcity of food.

The latter means they can go surprisingly long without sufficient food without realizing it. In other words, there's a good chance (according to some) that the shrimp in your ecosphere are actually slowly starving to death and aren't in anything approaching a stable ecosystem.

(Also, they aren't brine shrimp, which are an entirely different class of animal.)

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halocaridina_rubra


Thanks for this. I wasn't too keen on them to be honest because they reminded me of little fleas jumping around. But it is sad to read "These shrimp are social creatures, but the Ecosphere starts with only four (often less, with one or more dead on arrival), and eventually only a single one is left to swim around alone, perhaps for years"[0]. I had assumed that they would reproduce within the ecosystem, but apparently not.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecosphere_(aquarium)


I have one of these sitting on the table right in front of me. We've had it for a couple months, and the brine shrimp are swimming around happily still. I figure it has a 50-50 chance of being broken by my kids before the shrimp die.


On a larger scale, wouldn't this be Earth?


Complete with the "put it in a spot with enough sun light". Except the atmosphere leaks a little http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Cluster_watc...


On such a significantly larger scale that it would bear only passing resemblance



It's pretty normal to introduce springtails (small arthropods) to sealed terrariums. Their main purpose is to to eat mold, but they presumably also help with the carbon cycle.



Yeah, my brother did this. He made a self sustaining garden with some bugs in it. The bugs eventually stopped reproducing, possibly because of inbreeding? The plants lasted quite a while until my parents moved and couldn't take it with them.



I just don't think there is enough evidence to believe his story.


Based on my layman knowledge of the relevant scientific fields here, it certainly seems plausible. He's not claiming anything that extraordinary. The stakes are also incredibly low, it's not like he's lying about his achievement to get some kind of grant.


People have been building terraria for centuries. You can buy all shapes and sizes in stores, some with fish. Though the fish ones probably don't last after the fish dies.

Gardening is one of the many areas of life where the best information and the bulk of information is offline.


Terminology pedantry since I recently got in "jarrariums" and have been reading a bunch...

Most terraria are not sealed, so while we've been making them forever, that doesn't say much about the viability of sealed ones. As far as I know, research into closed ecosystems didn't start until the 20th century.

If it has fish in it, it's not a terrarium. Terraria are land-based (hence the name). Think garden in a box. The main thing a terrarium gives you over simply potting some plants is that it can increase the local humidity. Also, you can have animals in it (usually invertebrates that eat detritus), which helps it be lower-maintainance.

If it's full of water, it's an aquarium (again hence the name). Most aquaria today don't have living plants and only have animals. That requires mechanical filtration and oxygenation to replicate the side of the ecosystem that plants normally occupy. A "planted tank" is an aquarium with live plants in it. When balanced well, they can be lower maintainance because the plants and animals provide things the other need.

If the box is half-submerged with both aquatic and land-based life, it's a "paludarium".


>Gardening is one of the many areas of life where the best information and the bulk of information is offline.

I've come to realize this is true, but why?


Gardening/farming is pretty much as far removed from the urban, heavily tech-influenced lifestyle most netizens live in as it can be.

But imho this is about to change, lots of people burning out on the rapid cycles and inherent unsustainability of living the "always online city lifestyle" and thus looking for ways to escape to something more natural in the form of gardening or even farming.


I mean, sealed terrariums are and have been a known thing for a long time. If you look more into it, 50 years doesn't seem all that implausible. To me, the most amazing part is keeping something around for that long.


You are correct, but there is very little incentive to lie. Maybe a helpful family member watered it a few times and never mentioned it. The concept does at least work for a few years as many sources can confirm, and the story is firmly in the plausible range imho. But in typical fashion, the data is scant and maybe contradictory.

The point on HN seems to be; the takeaway, arguing grammar/numbers/journalistic standard, and cooler-topics recently, and this has all 3. (Hyperbolic comments too, in case the /s is not autodetected by the content-bot mentality)


Why would anyone need to water it? Am I missing something? This is sealed like other terrariums, the water recycles, it has nowhere to escape (unless the plug is poorly sealed). Probably the first time it was opened in 1972 to be watered was because the water level wasn't high enough from the beginning.


I was wondering if the seal failed in the 70s and allowed it to dry out. So he added water and improved the seal so it wouldn't happen again.


Because someone who doesn't know better might think it needs to be opened and watered.


Because biological growth increases the number of cells, and more cells need more water to survive than less cells.


Interesting thought, but in this case, simplistically put, the water, a limited resource, is the food for the cells. The population will grow until no more food is present and will reach balance in the eco-system. And the cells that die recycle back into the system


And then the sealed garden would have a lot of dry tissue that for some reason can't be seen in the photo, or traces of fungus decay. The other option is that somebody is cleaning it even if does not water it, and in the process is inadvertently watering it

If the garden is opened sometimes or the cork is loose, new water will enter by gass difussion until reaching an equilibrium. So a garden is either fully sealed, or watered.

Many plants are able to drink 'mist'. Some even only drink mist in their entire life.


Yes, and then what happens when they don't get more water?


In this species in particular, first the leaves die, then stems shrink until a fraction of their former diameter, then split in segments and collapse. Each segment emits roots and leaves later.


I'm thinking we each make our own little ecosystem, maybe a half an acre would be enough. Maybe make it double walled, just in case, and then say screw it to everyone else as climate change and various other big things occur on the outside.


You might be interested in Biosphere 2 [1], a 3 acre hermetically sealed dome stucture designed to house about 8 people with an ecosystem to provide them with everything they need to survive.

They didn't quite get oxygen and food production to the required level, but if you add another acre or so it should work. With renewed interest in moon and mars colonies somebody is bound to revive that line of research.

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biosphere_2


The first experiment was hampered by them not realising the cement needed CO2 to cure, to be honest I would have halted the experiment to find out what the issue was then restarted it. Although they might not have realised this at the time, but then they weren't really testing a proper closed system.

It would have been useful if they were able to test a closed system without the cement sucking up the CO2.


On the restarting, I completely agree. You'd need to restart the whole thing multiple times as your knowledge increased. Maybe somebody else is doing large scale closed system human habitats, but I haven't heard of any.

edit: A bit of googling led me to the Russian one and some books on the problem generally. It sounds like a great speciality but probably hard to get a gig in.

If I had a multi-decade old terrarium, I'd be darn tempted to think of sensors you could stick in there and see if there's some sort of cycle going on.


Isn't cement a major CO2 emitter?


The production of cement is, but curing cement fixes CO2. It just doesn't fix enough to offset the production.


If you want similar projects that weren't influenced by Hippy culture to try and emulate a complex system that nobody really understands you should look into the stuff the Soviet Union did. For example https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BIOS-3 is much more interesting imho. Looking into the minimum number of species you need for sustainability and not being afraid of using technology to augment the system is the better way for reaching truly closed systems.


TIL Steve Bannon was a director of that Biosphere, if only briefly.


I've a vague fantasy about returning to the remote Scottish island where I was born, which is pretty windswept with almost no trees, and building a house and garden inside a large Solar Dome, growing trees and plants that otherwise wouldn't survive in such a hostile environment. Apparently it has been done to some extent[0]. Side note - they discovered in the Biosphere 2 that trees need some wind, because the stress helps form reaction wood to strengthen the tree[1].

[0] http://www.solardome.co.uk/case-study/the-nature-house-north...

[1] http://awesci.com/the-role-of-wind-in-a-trees-life/


The gun turrets on the roof that keep away the roaming marauders need to be self sustaining too.


Take a leaf from the book of Plants vs. Zombies and grow your own defense system!


We can make a supply chain that runs through these double walls underground, passing ammunition and other stuff.


Maybe lasers then?


What if the optics get damaged? What lasing medium are you using and what if it leaks?

For long-term defense systems, I'd try to go as low-tech as possible. Every bit of technology of the past 300 years is tied to a rather large manufacturing & supply chain. If your turret has μC in it, where will you get a new one if the marauders happen to score a lucky shot?


You can reshape the question into how small could you make a microcontroller fabricator which can produce all of the electronics within itself? One square mile to one square foot - it seems likely that the best possible is within that range. How well could it be optimized?


It would get too hot in most places, I think. Glass, especially if double walled, stops the heat getting out, but most of the heat from the sun will be able to get in (as infra-red). So you'd need supporting systems (i.e. air conditioning) outside.


Local warming is a myth, the dome is just going through a natural cycle of warming and cooling!


AFAIK, at a certain depth below ground-level, the temperature is constant all-year-round. Something like that in two meters the ground is constantly around 14°C or something like that.

...so basically all you'd need to do is just dig a hole, put a bunch of metal pipes inside, seal it all up and run cooling water through and couple it to a closed-loop temperature control and you're done.

The idea is from an article from overclockers.com from the mid-2000s, about a dude who built his own water-cooling system and wanted a more efficient radiator. Not sure if I can find it again...


That only works for a limited amount of time though. E.g. the London tube has warmed the rock around it by a very considerable amount.

https://www.citymetric.com/transport/londons-tube-has-been-r...


If you're talking about a half acre biodome, your "limited amount of time" is probably longer than the life of the planet.


Or just use a commercially available heat pump.


Have you ever watched Silent Running?


Have you ever watched Biodome?


Movies from 1972 vs 1996? I'll take the ecological classic that is a bit more in line with the OC's post.

Silent Running was very much an ecological and social statement about humanity and the Earth. I cried when Lewie was gone, and felt bad for Dewey.


I was impressed with their movement and long after seeing the film for the first time learned that they were played by double amputee actors


I remember blubbing as a kid when I first watched silent running - for the same reasons.


Was probably in my early twenties when I saw it first, saw it again twenty years later, still had the same impact.

Let's hope it won't be needed.


The movie Biodome comes to mind here.


I wonder what other life forms are inside that jar apart from the plant. Is the tiny sealed world a paradise or a hell for them?


If the soil was taken from the garden there should be hexapods within it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Springtail


Hm, hexapodia as the key insight?


Is that a reference to A Fire Upon the Deep?


They should call it the Sentinelese jar in honour of that equally green, sealed island


It's just dirt to the microbes in there.


I'm sceptical about the sealed part.

Anybody having Tradescantia fluminensis knows that is a very easy plant to grow. It stores water in its stems so is relatively dry resistant, but it grows unlimited unless you clip it. So either there is some kind of autoprune system in the bottle, or somebody is opening the seal and clipping it. In that case there is a external source of water in the air in form of vapor.

> Did anyone try introduce an animal in such a closed system, insects for instance. Does it self sustain?

Unlikely with this species. Most animals are unable to eat it. In any case this is closer to a monoculture than to a real ecosystem between one plant and some fungus (needed to remove the dry parts and stems if we assume that there is not human intervention to clean the surplus).


I have several terrariums and the plants self-limit when they hit the glass. I have never needed to prune or trim them. When they get too dense they start dying back from moisture issues, and it self-regulates into a pretty stable loop.


What species?


Does someone need to clip it if it runs into glass?


It's not a miracle, it's self-sustaining. Mine has been going strong for 1+ year now. I got it here: https://www.ferrarium.nl/


Would be interesting to study the evolution of the organisms contained therein over very long timescales.


Can plants be used to clean pollutants from the atmosphere in a space station?

Maybe not:

https://www.gardenmyths.com/garden-myth-born-plants-dont-pur...

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/03/indoor-p...


It seems like as a rough approximation your plants would need to grow at least as much biomass as you eat every day.


"Space in space" is cramped only because we put up too small living quarters. But an inflatable balloon only for growing things in it need not be especially rigid or robust. It wouldn't even have to be rigidly fixed to the living quarters, it could float a bit to the side connected only by flexible tubing.


That's not really true thanks to micrometeors. They'd have it ripped to shreds, and if it was connected to the main habitation units, would remove the air from there too.



I think I'd take inspiration from the sandstone fortifications I saw in Florida as a kid, that stopped cannonballs by basically eating them whole with a super-thick barrier of soft sandstone.

Cook up aerogel panels 1m thick, and layer them over your inflatable shell. The panels would still be translucent to sunlight, although it would scatter significantly. Micrometeorites would plow into the aerogel, making micro-tunnels in it until the kinetic energy dissipates. The micrometeorites would then remain embedded in the panels. Larger impacts could still plow through the panels completely, to breach the inflatable envelope, but those are more easily tracked and avoided. Panels that get too shredded can be replaced, and the micrometeorites harvested from them for study.


Yeah, so fast-growing lettuce, kale, herbs, radishes, carrots, peas, and green onions would be the order of the day.


Or a fast growing edible fungus.

Space Quorn!



Cody's Lab recently put together a sealed terrarium meant to emulate the conditions of the Carboniferous period, and although it's going to be slow going I am still excited to see how it progresses.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgAbxP9SHQY


There should be more funding and research on self contained, or nearly self contained ecosystems. The cost is modest on the larger scheme of things, but the potential benefits in the next half century could well be tremendous. Also, doing such research here on Earth may well save the lives of many pioneers in the coming decades.


If there was a plant that is not green, would it have last as long? Just wondering if the photosynthesis is only exclusive to green plants.


There is nothing specific about green. Chlorophyll A and Chlorophyll B have different absorption spectrums. Depending on the specific combination of those two, the plants can appear in a different colours.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chlorophyll#/media/File:Chloro...

There are other pigments that cannot photosynthesise on their own, but can pass the energy to chlorophyll to react, as well. So while green usually means photosynthesis, absence of green does not mean absence thereof.

https://ucmp.berkeley.edu/glossary/gloss3/pigments.html


What other plants are there? Photosynthesis is performed in/by chlorophyll which is green, so it's hard to not be green.

There is a puprle earth hypothesis and Haloarchaea, which is based on witamin A related molecule for photosythesis, but those are not classified as plants.

The current theory for inception of plants is that one cell captured another chlorophyllic one and created symbiotic organism, which later evolved into multicelluar plants. So by definition plants should be green for phototrophy ("feeding on light"), until it would somehow evolved chlorophyllic cells, but ot seems they are older than plantae themselves.

Btw. similar theory exists for mitochondria and eukaryota, that's why we speak of my mitochondrial DNA.


A few plants are parasitic on other organisms, and have given up photosynthesis. An example is the Bird's-Nest Orchid (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neottia_nidus-avis) which is parasitic on a woodland fungus.

But these examples are unusual; the vast majority of plants get their energy the normal way, through photosynthesis using cholorophyll.


I've heard it's not easy being green.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRZ-IxZ46ng


We made these at work couple years back, I have a nice red leafed plant in it:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/nw3yxphorc2h9v1/PHOTO-2019-04-26-1...

The only thing that almost killed it was direct sunlight, I think it got too hot and all the moisture was pulled out to the top.


It is not exclusive to green plants. You can see the cercis canadensis for example, not sure how it is done though.


I have to try this. Maybe I'll finally get a plant to survive longer than a year in my burrow.


Everything can be learned, and everybody can culture a plant but only a few can culture any plant. Maybe you need just some orientation.


Definitely adding this to my DIY list. I need to build myself a terrarium now!


Is not so easy and stable as you could think. The trick there is in the species, that is a survivor, clonates itself from tiny fragments and is invasive.


So then I’m the only one who did this in elementary school, then?

Soil from the yard, a couple of plant clippings, water... and seal it. I find it kind of surprising how excited the comments here are when 7 year olds around the world have done this same experiment.


I think the point isn't "look new terrarium tech was just invented". I think it's "this terrarium lasted 47 year sealed".

Given that the terrarium guides I could find with a quick google suggest opening the vessel for gas exchange and fresh water every 4-8 weeks (depending on guide and plant type), the 2444 weeks reported here seems to be a long time.


Admittedly I’ve never done any research into it, but I’ve never heard anything of the sort. Close it up and see how long it lasts. I know that mine lasted for well over a year before my mom finally demanded we toss it because she was tired of it taking up space.

Honestly, it’s just a small Biosphere. I don’t really understand why you would expect one to work and the other not to.


Because as the time is extended, the possibility for things to get critically out of balance increases, possibly exponentially.

This is not merely sitting a coated steel bar on your shelf and expecting it to not rust. It is a highly dynamic cycle of multiple feedback loops and organizims, especially the soil microbiota. Any of it goes off, and the whole thing could collapse, and it could take a long time for that to go critical.

In this very example, he presumably determined tha tit needed water after several years, but added enough to balance to system so it lasted in a sealed condition for 47 more years.


Very cool! However, I found this remark strange:

> some like Bob Flowerdew (organic gardener) thinks that “It’s wonderful but not for me, thanks. I can’t see the point. I can’t smell it, I can’t eat it,”.

What kind of an argument is that?


Not an argument at all, but a discussion of taste?

I think it’s quite clear. As a gardener, who values close contact and interaction with plants, he doesn’t see the point of plants that are permanently behind glass.


It would be cool if that was for an apartment


thats crazy cool!!


>more than a century has passed and David’s sealed bottle garden is still thriving and robust as can be. With thriving plant life, despite not watering it since 1972.

>David planted the terrarium back in 1960

I'm so annoyed by the above. Is this article written in 2060?


Pretty sure they meant "more than half a century".


I also re-read this several times trying to make sense of it. I kept looking for a early 1900's date somewhere I must have missed...


> "The Sealed Garden That Was Only Watered Once in 53 Years"

> "In 1960 David Latimer got curious and decided to plant a glass bottle with seed."

> "Posted on March 22, 2017 by Davin"

1960 + 53 = 2013

They have apparently had 4 years to find and catch the "century" error prior to posting, and another 2 years since.

I can't tell if there was any cheating, because the article does not specify how much compost was placed in the bottle initially, or its composition. So I can't estimate whether there's actually enough carbon or water in the bottle to support the visible amount of living plant mass. He should have measured the mass of the whole thing in 1960, and at least once per year thereafter, so he could show that the total mass remained the same.


He has the right look. Perhaps he's a Time Lord?


> In fact, more than a century has passed and David’s sealed bottle garden is still thriving and robust as can be. With thriving plant life, despite not watering it since 1972.

"more than half a century" ?


The original terrarium was constructed and sealed in 1960, according to the article, and only watered since then once, in 1972.


I'm still confused, a century is 100 years right? 1960 + 100 = 2060. Am I missing something?


What's half of 100?

/EDIT nvm, I got confused. I guess whoever wrote the article did too


50, but...how is that relevant? The article doesn't say half.


right, which is what the parent comment was pointing out. The article says more than a century has passed, the parent comment says more than half a century with half emphasized to show that is what the article should obviously say.


[2017]


Thanks! Added.


I wonder if they're are any plastics in there


Seen this before. Simplest answer: don't believe it. That cork in the top looks new. And very, very removable.

And if you still want to believe it, without evidence, then I have some property in Florida to sell you.


There's several hundred years of evidence in the real world. Millions of similar terraria have been built around the world for centuries.

The real reason this one is newsworthy is because nobody knocked it off the table and shattered it in 50 years.


ooooorrrrr...they've all been opened. None of them lasted as long as they say. Because none of them are secure.


Agree with the cork part. Looks pretty new and loose.

Tradescantia is not growth from seeds, so I assume also that the first seeds had died or survived for some years and Tradescantia was added later, maybe in 1972.




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