A Tour Of the Microverse

Pepsi bottles. You look at a pile of Pepsi bottles and probably never think about them sustaining life. The only thing they could possibly be good for is holding drinks, and after that they’re not good for anything. According to Ban the Bottle, Americans waste 38 million soda bottles a year. But what happens if we break apart the bottle, but don’t throw it away? One of the big projects our Science Blogging class was presented with was “The Ecocolumn Project”. We separated soda bottles and arranged them into a column with a magical power, the power to support a small scale ecosystem. Today, we will visit the three chambers in the ecocolumn: the aquatic chamber, the terrestrial chamber, and the decomposer chamber.IMG_4862[1]

Our first stop is the aquatic chamber. If you look to your left, you will see two fish swimming towards you. Don’t let their graceful motions fool you, they are actually very sad. Long ago, they were wading in a limitless pond, with all the food and shelter they could ask for. Now they are trapped in a micro-version of their lavish land, where not even a morsel of new food gets dropped by the ignorant human beings for them to consume. All they have is the pre-planted duckweed, molding over them.  One fish was so starved, he died and moved into the decomposition chamber, which we will get to later. But first, take a minute to admire that the water grows ever so slightly thanks to the 100 mL the humans pour in every day. We will also allow you time to feel that “always 25 degree” percolation on your skin. Alright, we better get you to dry land before you drown.

Up here we have the terrestrial chamber. The grassy substance you are walking on right now is called the Très Fine Maraîchère Olesh Endive. The humans planted these plants weeks ago. Now, thanks to the magic of photosynthesis and daily watering, the little seeds have grown into this beautiful green fluffy soil before you. Of course, there are other plants in this chamber, ripped out of the plentiful ground they were born in and transplanted into the microverse. Sadly, there are no animals to roam in the luscious playground. However, the lack of animals gives room for the plants to grow to their full potential. Now, on to our next step, this one might get a little depressing.

Alright guys, here we have the decomposition chamber. Feel those? Those are sowbugs, commonly known as rollie pollies or pill bugs. These cute crustaceans feed on the dead material that is placed in this chambe (https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef439), like the aforementioned fish. The humans put on a great funeral for the fish. They buried him in the dirt right below a pinecone, which will hopefully serve as a great decomposer. Rest assured he will be decomposed safely and properly.

Hey look over there! In the midst of death and decomposition, one plant stands tall, giving hope to its viewers. How can such beauty grow in such a malnourished place? Maybe some of the water stopped to give light to the poor dying souls

As we reach the end of our tour, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I hope you have noticed and experienced wonderful things. I wonder if you have grown attached to the organisms in the different chambers and have taken pride in the way they grew, as I have. Maybe you’ve mourned for the fish as I did, and taken shelter in the shadow of the tall plants as I have. I hope you have questions, questions such as, “How is it possible for an entire ecosystem to fit inside of your hands?”, “How can so much growth happen in a number of weeks?” Well, my friend, it only takes the bare necessities.