09 August 2009

Benthos Revealed ~ NatGeo Drains The Ocean!

One of my very favorite classes as an undergrad at MIT was Joe Haldeman's 21W.759 Writing Science Fiction. Wracking my brain over what to write about for our second big story assignment -- i.e. a major chunk of grade -- I somehow got around to flipping through my Atlas of the Ocean. Usually I'd sneak a peak at the Atlas as a way of avoiding my engineering assignments, but now I was really desperate. Lovely illustrations, underwater geography, natural resources, tons of maps and graphs about fish and aquatic life. And then, whoa! You mean there's mid-oceanic ridges with a benthos community whose extremophile life-cycle is independent of sunlight but instead is fueled by volcanic activity?! AHA! My SF idea brainwave was thus...
What if an intelligent, sentient "alien" civilization could have evolved over millions of years along the Earth's mid-oceanic rifts fueled by this geo-tectonic power supply? What would First Contact between a human and a smart benthic creature be like?
Well after that, I banged out my story! Got an "A" grade too! (And if only I could find my bloody paper archives, I'd post the original for you all to read!) But that was a work of science fiction. In the meantime, you too can learn all about the very real underwater glories of our Planet Earth by watching National Geographic's Drain The Ocean show -- or check out their online videos!

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