The Climatron: A Massive, Air-Conditioned Dome Greenhouse

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The Bucky Fuller-inspired Geodesic dome encoded the hope that weather would no longer inconvenience humans

Enter The Climatron. This Buckminster Fuller-inspired geodesic dome greenhouse was completed in 1960. Rising 70 feet in the air and completely climate controlled by heating and cooling systems controlled by an old Honeywell control system, the Climatron was able to roughly simulate tropical terrain in Missouri, no small feat. Popular Mechanics declared it, "Tropics on the Half Shell."

The Climatron had an aluminum superstructure, which was covered with Plexiglass. At the time it was built, it was the only geodesic dome enclosed in Plexiglass. It seemed to point the way towards a future in which the weather could no longer impinge upon human pleasure or desire. Science writer Victor Cohn imagined just such a climate-controlled dome ending up in everyone's backyard in his mid-50s book, 1999: Our Hopeful Future.

Emily had the ladies out in the garden bubble--the new enclosed part of the yard (with dining terrace and thirty-foot swimming pool) where the climate was kept the same the year round. And the snow was beautiful through the clear plastic bubble.

So, it may seem an oddity now, but part of the excitement of the Climatron is the hope it embodies: the total humanization of the environment. Let it snow, let it snow. You'll be playing pinochle in the garden bubble in short sleeves, anyhow.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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