Tag Archives: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Amusing Monday: Celebrating Alvin’s animals

This year is the 50th anniversary of Alvin, a deep-sea vehicle that has made some incredible scientific discoveries over the past half-century.

The latest issue of Oceanus magazine is a special edition that takes us through the history of Alvin, including its part in locating a lost hydrogen bomb, investigating the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and documenting the remains of the Titanic.

Read “The Once & Future Alvin,” Oceanus Summer 2014.

What really drew my attention to this issue is a photo feature called “Alvin’s Animals.” It was posted as a slide show in the online version of Oceanus. It registered high on my amusing meter, and I encourage you to click through the buttons that take you from one odd-looking creature to the next.

One of Alvin’s most significant discoveries came in 1977, when the submersible traveled to the Galapagos Rift, a deep-water area where volcanic activity had been detected. Scientists had speculated that steaming underwater vents were releasing chemicals into the ocean water. They got to see that, but what they discovered was much more: a collection of unique clams, worms and mussels thriving without sunlight.

These were lifeforms in which bacteria played a central role at the base of a food web that derives its energy from chemicals and not photosynthesis.

Since then, other deep-sea communities have been discovered and documented throughout the world, with hundreds of new species examined and named.

The Oceanus article also describes in some detail the just-completed renovation that has given Alvin new capabilities. The people responsible for various aspects of the make-over are interviewed in this special edition.

The first video on this page is by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution celebrating Alvin’s 50th birthday. The second is a walk-around the newly renovated craft by Jim Motavalli, who usually writes about ecologically friendly automobiles.

Amusing Monday: Blending art and science

Scientists and artists generally see the world in different ways, but a new collaborative project has resulted in some unique creative expressions, along with new ways to connect people to the wonders of science.

The project, called Synergy, was conceived in 2012 and involves an affiliation between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Check out the first introductory page, which includes the following:

“For all of their apparent differences, artists and scientists share a fundamental goal: to explore the edges of human knowledge and experience. Through our artist/scientist collaborations, we aim to reveal how both creative and analytic thought are present across all disciplines, and to demonstrate how crucial they are to a fuller understanding of our world.”

I suggest you check out the page called “Ocean Stories: A Synergy of Art and Science,” where you can click on images to review eight collaborative art projects via videos, still photos and written descriptions. Each one addresses a different aspect of ocean science.

The eight projects presented on that page are now on display through May at the Boston Museum of Science.

If you’d like to dig a little deeper into this project, you can listen to the half-hour radio interview by Heather Goldstone of public radio station WGBH in Boston, or read blogs by Cassandra Willyard of Studio 360 or by Lonny Lippsett of Oceanus magazine.