Explore this machine in our Core building to understand more about ecosystems.

Dominating the Core, this machine demonstrates how important ecosystems are in keeping the planet going, and how all living things are more interconnected than we might think.

Filled with plants, the huge glass ball at the centre of the Plant Engine represents the world’s ecosystems (such as rainforests, oceans, grasslands etc). It breathes life into the bell jars, which contain automata representing the ecosystem services that keep us alive: controlling our climate; cleansing our air; recycling our water and waste; capturing our carbon; and providing inspiration.

Have a look at the cartoons around the bell jars to discover some of the amazing things the planet does for us – all for free – if we look after it.

The Plant Engine was created by Will Jackson and Paul Spooner.

Did you know?

The planet provides all sorts of services for us humans – for free:

  • The plants on our planet (on land and in the sea) produce millions of tonnes of oxygen every day, which humans breathe.
  • Plants absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and help to filter the air. One tree can filter up to 60lb of pollutants from the air each year.
  • Without greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane and water vapour) the temperature of the planet would be about minus 19 degrees centigrade. They act like a duvet, keeping the Earth’s surface warm and protecting it from sunburn.
  • Most of our available fresh water comes in the form of rain. About 119,000 cubic kilometres of rain falls on the Earth every year – enough to cover the land a metre deep all over, but it’s not evenly distributed.