The Extreme Life of the Sea

The Extreme Life of the Sea by father-son team Stephen R Palumbi (marine biologist) and Anthony R Palumbi (science writer & novelist) was, to me, like a grown-up version of some of my favorite childhood books – books of interesting animal facts, like how high a mountain lion can jump or how fast a house fly can fly.

The Extreme Life of the Sea is less narrative and more an enthusiastic sharing of cool things in the sea, which are loosely tied together in thematic sections. It is not, however, just a collection of “gee whiz” facts. The compelling vignettes help to convey broader concepts of science and nature with excitement and enthusiasm.

Most of all, the Palumbis remind the reader that science and nature are not just important, they are fun. Continue reading “The Extreme Life of the Sea”

Meet the Sea Pig

The name “sea pig” conjures up many images, but probably not that of a deep-sea holothurian echinoderm. There are three species of sea pigs all in the genus Scotoplanes. They inhabit deep sea floors often high densities and are thus sensitive to deep sea trawling. Continue reading “Meet the Sea Pig”

The Art of Science – Water Flea Circus

Let’s say you’re an artist who wants to explore the effects of global warming on the Arctic environment. The first idea that would spring to mind is to recreate a centuries-old circus sideshow act, right? OK, it might not have been the first idea, but Ars Bioarctica, a group of artists and scientists in Finland, ran with it, using water fleas, or daphnia, to create the Water Flea Circus, a multi-media spectacle starring translucent planktonic crustaceans.

The first Water Flea Circus, in 2009, was a fairly simple show, mainly projected images of live water fleas doing tricks (actually, just being themselves, flipping around and waving their legs) to musical accompaniment.  Water Flea Circus 2010 was much more elaborate, with 10 live performances featuring live projections as well as performers dressed as water fleas and researchers.  Yeah, just watch the video.

Ars Bioarctica, a long term art/science initiative with a focus on the Arctic environment, was started in 2008 in Finland by the Finnish Bioart Society and the Kilpisjärvi Biological Station of the University of Helsinki.  Its aim is to support joint projects between artists and scientists to develop new kinds of scientific and artistic thinking, specifically on the relationship of man and nature. If you think this sounds like the best thing ever, they have a residency program that will allow you to go to sub-Arctic Lapland to hang out with scientists and make art.

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