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Eight Million Scary Stories About The Briny Deep, All In This Week's Sci-Blog!

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Well Weirdos, it's time once again for another appalling Wonkette Sci-Blog. Some Friday Science Nice-Time after a very busy, wondrous and infuriating week.


So...How would you like to meet another one of my personal heroes, then?

Dr. Sylvia A. Earle is one of the very few people who have genuinely earned the title "Living legend."  Born in New Jersey in 1935 -- in the middle of the worldwide Depression -- she has a B.S. degree from Florida State University, M.S. and PhD. from Duke University, and 22 honorary degrees. Her research concerns marine ecosystems with special reference to exploration, conservation, and the development and use of new technologies for access and effective operations in the deep sea and other remote environments. Oceanographer, explorer, author of more than 190 scientific, technical, and popular publications, lecturer, a National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence from 1998, Chief Scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from 1990 to 1992.

Earle has led more than a hundred expeditions, logged more than 7,000 hours underwater, set a record for solo diving to 1,000-meters. She is founder of Mission Blue and SEAlliance, and chair of the Advisory Councils of the Harte Research Institute and the Ocean in Google Earth.

Dr. Earle is a committed Conservationist, definitely one of the Good Guys, holds around 20 national and international honors and is very active on the lecture circuit. I think that I'll stop scrobbling now and just let her speak for the ocean. Here's Sylvia Earle's very eloquent plea for ocean Conservation at the 2009 TED award ceremony:

 

 

This is a good time, I think, for a tune from the Oceanographers.

 

Here is a remarkable photo slide show of ocean life collected from an expedition to Tristan da Cunha, one of - if not the- remotest islands in the world. Many rare and beautiful species were collected and photographed but no Mermaids, unfortunately.

On June 20th, divers spotted a mysterious, pink, human-sized blob floating in the waters off Cuba. Nobody had any idea what kind of organism it could be, but photos finally got around to the good folks at the Deep Sea News' site, who could I.D. it. It turns out that it wasn't a single animal at all, but a huge egg mass for the Diamond-Shaped Squid. That's a relief. We have been afraid that it was a larval one of these.

Ever wonder where all that trash on the beaches and in the water ends up? It turns out that a surprising amount ends up on the deep ocean floor. Oceanographers were sure there was some amount of trash in the deep ocean, but nobody was about to fund an expedition just to find out. So, ocean scientists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute did the next best thing. Research technicians evaluated 18,000 hours of archived ROV footage from the VARS (Video Archive, Remote Submersible) and found "over 1,500 observations of deep-sea debris, at dive sites from Vancouver Island to the Gulf of California, and as far west as the Hawaiian Islands. 32% of the debris was plastic, 23% metal. Considering the cold and relatively low oxygen levels at the abyssal depths, this carpet of unwanted consumer goods will be around for an awfully long time.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported this week that a 6 foot wave which struck the Atlantic coast of New Jersey on June 13th was probably a very rare Meteotsunami. NOAA scientists believe the continent spanning Derecho of June 12-13 created such an extreme air pressure differential that it created waves that act just like Tsunamis.

Paleontologists at the Natural History Museum in London have found a bizarre fossilized Cambrian Echinoderm in Morroco that lived on the sea floor around 520 million years ago. It's currently the earliest, most primitive example of echinoderms (starfish, sand dollars) that exhibit five-fold symmetry. Say...you know Who Else exhibited five-fold symmetry?

The American Audubon Society is using state of the art Satellite tracking technology in their American Oystercatcher Tracking Project. Six birds have been fitted out with telemetry backpacks and their movements will tell us a lot about this magnificent and threatened species habitat use, helping conservation efforts. You can see where they all are -- right now -- on the site's Tracking Map.

Here is your Deeply Disturbing Video of the Week: the Tropical Southern Hemisphere's amazing Onychophora "Velvet Worm."

Beetlekakke! We at the UMRK very enamored of these remarkable animals and are currently researching techniques to breed giant examples of them for use with door-to-door salesmen, prosyletizers or members of Congress.

In the latest material Sciences news: Scientists have been producing Graphene, a single molecule wide lattice of graphite atoms with great promise in advanced electronics applications for about a decade. Now, researchers have extended the technique to metals, with the construction of very tiny and very efficent microprocessors one possible result.

A Hat Tip to Ace Commenter Not That Dewey, for a shockingly non-poop-related story!

The European High Energy Research Facility CERN is constructing an Antimatter Factory. They are planning to use the Extra-Low-Energy Antiproton ring (ELENA) decelerator to slow down and accumulate enough antimatter to answer some very thorny theoretical questions, then to be stolen by a dissident Cardinal to blow up the Vatican with. Wait, what?

V'ger!The Voyager 1 space probe is now 11 billion miles from Earth and is probably entering Interstellar Space, the very first human made object (other than radio emissions) to do so. No word on when it will meet the advanced machine civilization and turn itself into a beautiful bald woman, though.

Sadly the outstanding and delicious 17 year Brood II Magicicada Emergence in the Mid-Atlantic area is winding down, from its estimated peak 1 trillion individuals. Yes, trillion. You can still find a few, especially in New York State. So there's just enough time to make Dessert:

Chocolate-Chip Trillers

Ingredients:

2-1/4 cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

2 eggs

1 12-ounce pkg. chocolate chips

1 cup chopped nuts

1/2 cup dry-roasted chopped cicadas

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 deg F.

2. In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

3. In large bowl, combine butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla; beat until creamy. Beat in eggs.

4. Gradually add flour mixture and insects, mix well. Stir in chocolate chips.

5. Drop by rounded measuring teaspoonfuls onto

ungreased cookie sheet.

6. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Yield:

Approximately 3 dozen cookies

Yum!

This was a very busy news week. One item that didn't get the attention that it deserved, but we'll all be talking about in the near future, is Preiscent Obama's new Climate Action Plan, unveiled on Tuesday. With all the catastrophic storms and serious and Historic Heat Waves, it's long past time to see Science put back back into public policy.

And finally, here is your gratuitous Cephalopod Video for the day. Enjoy!

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