An aquatic ecosystem in a sealed glass bubble


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/12/21/an-aquatic-ecosystem-in-a-seal.html


#2

So… Do the shrimp reproduce?

if so, what happens when the population spirals out of control?

Famine? War? Cannibalism?


#3

I’ve raised quite a few tiny opae ula (the shrimp in question), but they were getting food, and consistent lighting, and their tank was open to the air. I’ve never heard of anyone getting shrimplets in an ecosphere, probably due to food being in short supply.

Many argue that the ecospheres aren’t at all self-sufficient and are just slow-motion starvation chambers – I’ve heard advice that if you get one as a gift you immediately break it open to liberate the shrimp. I don’t have any direct experience – and, really, if the shrimp actually live for years in the sphere then things can’t be going /all/ that badly. If I were going to give opae ula as a gift to someone, though, I’d advise just getting a big jar and some rocks and some non-sealed-in shrimp.


#4

but isn’t all of existence really just a slow motion starvation chamber of the soul?

a billions-of-years slog to the heat death of the multiverse

in the long term, we’re all quite dead


#5

That’s why it’s so important to have fun!


#6

or a pet?


#7

I’ve had one of these ecosystem spheres for over 16 years now. Looks just like this one. Somehow there is still a little living shrimp inside!

It either had 2 or 3 shrimp when I first received it as a gift. They never reproduced. Have had a single shrimp alive for more than a decade. He has never appeared to grown any larger.

I think a constant temperature is the reason the little guy has lived so long. I have this sphere weighted down inside my 30 gallon fish tank.

Sphere is absolutely sealed up. Sphere has always contained some algae sticking to the twig (and sides of the sphere). I’m guessing the food cycle is shrimp eats algae, shrimp poops, poop feeds algae, repeat…


#8

I got one of these for my Dad when I was a kid, and within a couple years it was a wasteland filled with dead algae and nothing else. I think that’s probably because he put it on the windowsill of his office, though, where it likely was exposed to extreme heat and cold at various points.


#9

Brine shrimp?


#10

I’ve had an irrational love for these since the first one I saw back in the early 80s.

I also like closed bottles with plants in them (sometimes small creatures like worms or springtails or pillbugs), the idea of mini-ecospheres gives me hope somehow and tickles my sci-fi brain. It is crazy how long they can last and thrive for under the right conditions.


#11


“Day 5,832: Same as yesterday. Exactly.”
“Day 5,833: Same as yesterday. Exactly.”
“Day 5,834: Same as yesterday. Exactly.”
“Day 5,835: Same as yesterday. Exactly.”
“Day 5,836: Same as yesterday. Exactly.”
“Day 5,837: Same as yesterday. Exactly.”
“Day 5,838: Same as yesterday. Exactly.”
“Day 5,839: Same as yesterday. Exactly.”
“Day 5,840: Same as yesterday. Exactly.”


#12

16 years is remarkable.

I’ve had one just like this for four years now. Originally there were six shrimp; now there are two. It sits in a well-lit shelf in my house, where the temperature is very constant.

It’s like a little aquatic Kandor.


#13

Ah but Ilya Prigogine says it’s a mistake to treat the universe as a thermodynamically closed system.


#14

Steve Bannon couldn’t make this work but Amazon can.


#15

HBO’s next big show: microcosm.


#16

Yeah, but. Prigogine is talking about systems that are: a) far from equilibrium, b) energy being added from outwith (such as where??), and c) a mere backing down from maximization of entropy.

You and Ilya may drag out the dissipation as long as you like, but it will be by nanoseconds per millennium at best. Or we can swim out past the breakers and watch the world die.


#17

Yours beat me! I was impressed that one of my shrimp lived 9 years.

It outlasted my marriage…


#18

oh yeah! I heard about this!


#19

I wanna touch that orb.


#20

Perhaps, in some shrimp snow globe, there’s a tiny Matt Damon making plans?