What is it about the deep ocean that is so alluring? There's no light, no air, creatures straight out of Marilyn Manson's worst nightmares, and hey, let's not forget the volcanic vents. I like hottubs, but 750 degree (Fahrenheit) water is a bit much yet it doesn't prevent life from thriving there. One of my favorite books, Meg, is a scary look at what might live in such places and what could happen if those scary things (like your average 60 foot great white shark ancestor) escaped from the abyss. Isn't "abyss" a great word? The movie is one of my favorites as well. My RSS feed for Seed Magazine yielded an article several days ago on this very topic. It isn't a very long article, but I'm just fascinated with the whole subject so it was good reading for me!
In other news, the Hubble Space Telescope has a predecesor, The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Not real catchy name, but with its 2013 deployment researchers are hoping to see what no one (we suppose) has ever seen before:
"While Hubble was able to peer back to one billion years after the Big Bang, officials said the new telescope, with mirrors that will capture six times more light than its predecessor, will look even further into the origins of the universe—by seeing light emitted from even more distant objects that has taken hundreds of millions of years to travel this far."
I just didn't realize that Hubble had been snapping away up there for 17 years. If you haven't seen some of the great images the old rattletrap has been beaming back, you really should enlighten yourself. The Eagle Nebula is one of my absolute favorites... They will have to go up and make some repairs for Hubble to last until 2013; in its current condition it would break down by 2009.
My friend P was telling me that one of the only things she had misgivings about as far as parenting goes was a detachment with nature. It is pretty tough to develop an appreciation of nature when there is very little of it to go around, when you have no sidewalks to walk along or ride a bike on, etc. We have various stateparks in and around the Birmingham area, but you have to have time to go, time to enjoy yourself while you're there, just plain time which seems so hard to eek out nowadays with work schedules and, for parents, homework, sports, clubs, friends, and the virtual aspects of life that seem to be taking over reality.
Along that vein, if you can't get out to nature, let nature come in to you! The new extravagant Planet Earth series is just the vehicle for places little-known and virtually unexplored. The music, cinematography, and narration (go Sigourney Weaver!) combine for a visual tour-de-force (sp?) that makes you really want to travel around the world. Unfortunately many of these places are virtually inaccessible or the weather varies between deadly extremes so outside the boundaries of human comfort that it boggles the mind. I believe the episodes of this 11-part series are still airing on the Discovery Channel, but the DVD set will be well worth the money when it becomes available for public consumption.
Thanks for exploring the scientific world with me this afternoon! Hope you weren't bored. If you were, as usual, piss off :)