Unknown orange/red glow over Pacific Ocean
"Then, very far in the distance ahead of us, just over the horizon an intense lightflash shot up from the ground. It looked like a lightning bolt, but way more intense and directed vertically up in the air. I have never seen anything like this, and there were no flashes before or after this single explosion of light." [more inside]
posted by gen
on Aug 25, 2014 -
You invest so much in it, don't you? It's what elevates you above the beasts of the field, it's what makes you special. Homo sapiens, you call yourself. Wise Man. Do you even know what it is, this consciousness you cite in your own exaltation? Do you even know what it's for?
Dr. Peter Watts
is no stranger to MetaFilter. But look past his sardonic nuptials
, heartbreaking eulogies
, and agonizing run-ins with fascists
) and you'll find one of the most brilliant, compelling, and disquieting
science fiction authors at work today. A marine biologist skilled at deep background research, his acclaimed
2006 novel Blindsight [full text]
-- a cerebral "first contact" tale led by a diverse crew of bleeding-edge post-humans -- is diamond-hard and deeply horrifying, wringing profound existential dread from such abstruse concepts as the Chinese Room
, the Philosophical Zombie
, Chernoff faces
, and the myriad quirks and blind spots
that haunt the human mind.
's last, shattering insight is not the end of the story -- along with crew
, a blackly funny in-universe lecture on resurrecting sociopathic vampirism
), and a rigorously-cited (and spoiler-laden) reference section
, tomorrow will see the release of
Dumbspeech State of Grace Echopraxia [website]
, the long-delayed
"sidequel" depicting parallel events on Earth. Want more? Look inside for a guide to the rest of Watts' award-winning (and provocative) body of work. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi
on Aug 25, 2014 -
If I offered evidence that jellyfish are displacing penguins in Antarctica—not someday, but now, today—what would you think? If I suggested that jellyfish could crash the world’s fisheries, outcompete the tuna and swordfish, and starve the whales to extinction, would you believe me?
The New York Review of Books reads
Lisa-ann Gershwin's book about the rise of the jellyfish and the coming "jellification" of our oceans. (Previously but not as terrifyingly
.) [more inside]
posted by RedOrGreen
on Sep 9, 2013 -
"Video footage of the little artist at work recently surfaced
. It was uploaded to YouTube by MarineStation Amami, a hotel and dive center that assisted Yoji Okata and NHK in producing the video segment that aired last year. Of note, watch at around 1:20 when the fish takes a small shell in his mouth and plants it in the sculpture. Scientists believe that the shells are filled with vital nutrients and this is the soon-to-be-father’s way of preparing nourishment for the babies." UPDATE [Aug 26, 2013] [more inside]
posted by jammy
on Aug 26, 2013 -
In the deep sea, low oxygen levels, scarce sunlight, and freezing water limit the rate at which items decompose: Something that might survive a few years on land could exist for decades underwater.
- ROVs photograph trash on the ocean floor.
posted by Artw
on Jun 8, 2013 -
Today it is an economic and even geopolitical necessity for oil companies, in order to maintain pipelines and offshore rigs, to send divers routinely to depths of a thousand feet, and keep them at that level of compression for as long as a month at a time. The divers who do this work are almost entirely male, and tend to be between the ages of twenty-five and forty. Were they any younger, they would not have enough experience or seniority to perform such demanding tasks. Any older, and their bodies could not be trusted to withstand the trauma. The term for these extended-length descents is “saturation diving,” which refers to the fact that the diver’s tissues have absorbed the maximum amount of inert gas possible.
posted by jason's_planet
on Jan 19, 2013 -
How can we get CO2 out of the atmosphere? Get it out of the sea first.
Making jet fuel from seawater
is a pretty cool -- albeit energy intensive -- trick. But applying the same science to scrub CO2 out of seawater, where it is more densely concentrated than in the atmosphere -- and, by doing so, to reduce atmospheric levels of CO2 back to acceptable levels -- that's a game saver.
"what would it take to draw atmospheric carbon down to 350 ppm with just this technology? . . . we would require the power of about 700 AP-1000 nuclear reactors. At the Chinese cost of $1.3b apiece and an 80 year lifetime this would cost a bit over $1 trillion dollars. That sounds like a lot of money. But its only about the cost of America’s 2003 Iraq War spread over the century, so I guess it’s a question of priorities."
posted by markkraft
on Jan 19, 2013 -
When looking for inspiration, most songwriters to go well-used emotional wells – triumph or loss, love or heartbreak. But Peter Larsen, a biologist at Argonne National Laboratory, looked to the microbes of the English Channel. He used seven years’ worth of genetic and environmental data, converting geochemical and microbial abundance measurements into notes, beats, and chords.
posted by Egg Shen
on Oct 8, 2012 -
Have you ever wondered what the water temperature off the Kamchatka Peninsula is? What about the wind speed in the Andaman Sea? Or maybe you’re losing sleep over the chlorophyll levels in the South Pacific. Fortunately, all of that information –- and 450 million other data points collected from oceanographic instruments around the world –- is freely and easily accessible thanks to the Marinexplore project. [more inside]
posted by Egg Shen
on Aug 28, 2012 -
(No NSFW images in this link, but some weeks there will be a random picture or two of a topless mer-person or sailor.)
posted by resurrexit
on Jul 30, 2012 -
WebGL, the 3D technology that's associated with HTML5, continues to make giant strides in diverse areas:
Exploration of human anatomy: Zygote Body, released yesterday, and BioDigital Human, the successors to Google Body (previously)
World Visualisation: WebGL Earth, Nokia's 3D Map of the entire earth (previously). WorldWeather and The WebGL Globe, a Google project that displays all kinds of data. Also: Where Does My Tweet Go?
Games: browser ports of Team Fortess 2, Quake 3 and Rage (a developer’s diary). SkidRacer, an entire game in WebGL. Mini Mass Effect (not yet playable, sadly).
Tools: 3Notes.js, a visual scene editor. Developer documentation. More resources. [more inside]
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul
on Mar 28, 2012 -
The BBC has produced a fabulous infographic showing the ocean zones:
Sunlight, Twilight, Midnight, Lower Midnight, and The Trenches. The page also includes videos showing: what happens to material at 100, 1000, and 10,000 meters down; the animals living in the Abyssal Plains (described in a lovely Scottish accent); and the story of Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh going down to the Mariana Trench in 1960. No one has been back there since, but director James Cameron
and Richard Branson
are among the contenders who are going to make a go of it. (Rumour has it that Cameron intends to be the sole person in the sub, while Branson is just financing a team.) Meanwhile, the Doer team
(backed by Eric Schmidt of Google), says it's all about the science and not just being first in this century's race. And there's even a yellow submarine for the rest of us
, if by "rest of us" one means "has $250,000 to spare for a single trip". Don't forget to click the links at the top of the infographic page to see everything.
posted by maudlin
on Feb 24, 2012 -
"In winter, the air temperature above the sea ice can be below -20C, whereas the sea water is only about -1.9C. Heat flows from the warmer sea up to the very cold air, forming new ice from the bottom. The salt in this newly formed ice is concentrated and pushed into the brine channels. And because it is very cold and salty, it is denser than the water beneath. The result is the brine sinks in a descending plume. But as this extremely cold brine leaves the sea ice, it freezes the relatively fresh seawater it comes in contact with. This forms a fragile tube of ice around the descending plume, which grows into what has been called a brinicle
." A BBC film crew has recorded one of these freezing life on the sea floor
posted by cosmac
on Nov 23, 2011 -
Like a "modern-day pirate," 75-year-old Ray Ives has been diving for sunken treasure for decades. Wearing an ancient, bronze-helmeted diving suit, he searches the ocean floor and keeps a huge collection of marine salvage (including antique cannon balls, 'bottles, bells, swords, portholes and diving gear') in a shipping container "museum" at a British marina.
Ray: A Life Underwater: Vimeo
. (A short film documentary.) [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Sep 23, 2011 -
"No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that a rubbish dump being created would, in the space of a century, become a protected area. Yet that is exactly what happened to what has come to be known as Glass Beach
, just outside Fort Bragg in California." [more inside]
posted by codacorolla
on Sep 1, 2011 -
The official Google Earth plugin
is one free download that makes all sorts of cool stuff possible in your browser. There's a full screen version of the program
(complete with underwater views and 3D buildings) which can be searched by entering queries at the end of the URL. There's a framed version
with support for layers, historical imagery, day/night cycles, and the Google Sky starmap.
Less useful but more fun are Google's collection of "experiments" demonstrating the possibilities of the Earth API, including a "Geo Whiz" geography quiz
, an antipode locater
, a 3D first-person view of San Francisco
, a virtual route-follower
, and MONSTER MILKTRUCK!
, a crazy fun driving simulator that lets you careen a virtual milk truck through the Googleplex campus, ricochet off the Himalayas, or explore any other place you care to name.
Lots more can be found in the Google Earth Gallery
-- highlights include
a look at mountaintop removal mining
a real-time flight tracker
a guide to trails and outdoor recreation
a 360 panorama catalog
geotagged Panoramio photos
and the comprehensive crowdsourced Google Earth Community Layer
And while it's too large to view online, don't miss loading the Metafilter user location map
into a desktop version of Google Earth! [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi
on Jun 9, 2011 -