Friday, January 27, 2012 - 09:00

The Eden Project in Cornwall is set to feature in a landmark new BBC Two science programme called How to Grow a Planet.

Eden will be in the first episode of the three-part series, set to air at 9pm on Tuesday February 7. The programme will show an experiment where presenter Professor Iain Stewart is sealed into an airtight plastic chamber in the Rainforest Biome.

Iain shares the box with hundreds of plants to demonstrate how the plants use photosynthesis to take carbon dioxide out of the air and create oxygen. He spent 48 hours in the 6m by 2m by 2.5m container in the hot, humid conditions of the Biome.

The unique experiment was conducted to demonstrate the importance of plants to human survival. Iain was attached to various medical sensors which recorded his vital signs. Specialist doctors from University College London’s Centre for Altitude Space and Extreme Environment Medicine and the Royal Free Hospital were on site at all times and carried out various tests on Iain.

The experiment echoes one first tried by the pioneering scientist Joseph Priestly. In 1772 he showed that a mouse could survive in an airtight chamber full of plants yet would soon perish in a box without them. It was an early demonstration of the importance of plants in creating the oxygen essential for life on earth.

Alistair Griffiths, the Eden Project's Horticultural Science Curator and one of the scientists working with the BBC on the project, said: “We're looking forward to seeing footage of the experiment at Eden as part of what promises to be an excellent new TV series on plants. 

“Hosting Iain and the BBC team was a great experience for us and we're glad to have been involved in something so in tune with what we do at the Eden Project. The experiment brilliantly illustrates our reliance on plants in an engaging, visual way."

In How to Grow a Planet, Iain, who has previously fronted Power of the Planet and How Earth Made Us, shows how plants have shaped the world.

The series sees Iain journeying to some of the most striking and remote locations on the planet to see what remarkable modern-day plants tell us about their pioneering ancient ancestors.

He carries out experiments demonstrating the unstoppable power of plants to transform their surroundings. Using the latest state-of-the-art photographic techniques, Iain gazes into the inner world of plants, never seen before.

The second and third episodes will be shown at 9pm on February 14 and 21.