I am pleased to announce the return of Blue Pints, our Google+ hangout discussion series ! Join us at 6:30 P.M. EST on Monday 4/29! The Southern Fried Scientist will be discussing the Sea Leveler and other DIY projects related to ocean instrumentation, and I’ll be talking about ScienceOnline Oceans!
We’ll share the link to watch shortly before the hangout starts here in this post as well as on twitter and Facebook. While the video will be archived, we encourage you to follow along live and ask questions via twitter. Blue Pints is intended to be a casual conversation about marine science, so we’ll each have a pint or three. I hope you’ll join us!
I have exciting news about ScienceOnline Oceans to share! General registration will start in a little over two weeks. As this is a little different from traditional scientific conferences, I’d like to explain the process in some detail.
Registration will take place in four stages.
1) Session moderators and workshop leaders. If your proposal for a session or workshop at ScienceOnline Oceans has been accepted (more information on that soon), a spot is automatically reserved for you, and registration will be a separate process. Please DO NOT register through the regular process.
2) Open registration. Open registration will take place on Wednesday, May 8th. To accommodate people in different time zones, there will be two registration times: 9:00 a.m. EST and 2:00 P.M. EST. There are 50 available spots during each timeslot, and they are first come, first served. In the past, ScienceOnline open registration spots have filled up in as little as 5 minutes, so please be sure to be prompt!
3) Lottery. The remaining spots will be filled by lottery. If you do not get a spot during open registration, sign up for the lottery and we’ll get back to you soon to let you know if you got a spot! Please note that the lottery is for the opportunity to register, not for a free spot.
4) Waitlist. There is also a waitlist for those who don’t get a spot during open registration or the lottery. As additional spots become available due to cancellations, people will be accepted off the waitlist.
Continue reading ScienceOnline Oceans update: Registration information and costs
There’s some seriously cool geology down at the world’s deepest known hydrothermal vents.
What’s this all about?
Evolution is the most creative force on the planet. Everywhere we look, we find species with novel and phenomenal adaptations that put their comic book brethren to shame. In no ecosystem is this more apparent than in the vast and unfathomable ocean. Marine species, especially those in the deep sea, have evolved to survive in a environment that is completely alien to us. Several months ago, I unveiled “Five organisms with real super powers that rival their comic book counterparts“, but that was just the beginning. Without further adieu, I give you 5 more marine organisms that put their superhero counterparts to shame (and one bonus critter).
The blind shrimp with super senses
Rimicaris exoculata – http://eol.org/data_objects/13231836
In the deep sea, eyes are not among the most useful sense organs. While many deep-sea species have extremely reduced eyes, some have abandoned these organs entirely. Rimicaris exoculata is a shrimp endemic to deep-sea hydrothermal vents in the mid-Atlantic that is completely eyeless. Its carapace is smooth, without even a hint of reduced, vestigial eyes. This, unfortunately, is a problem because Rimicaris exoculata is a farmer. The blind shrimp grows bacteria in its gill chamber, bacteria that can convert the chemical-rich hydrothermal vent fluid into food for the shrimp.
For lack of a more descriptive adjective, hydrothermal vents are hot. Some can exceed 400°C. Rimicaris exoculata needs to get close to this hot vent fluid to feed its crop of bacteria, but not so close as to become a hydrothermal hors d’oeuvre. And so, the blind shrimp evolved a completely new light-sensitive organ mounted on the top of its carapace–the rhodopsin-rich dorsal eyespot.
The dorsal eyespot of Rimicaris exoculata doesn’t “see” in the normal sense, there is still almost no light in the deep sea. Rather, this shrimp is adapted to detect the black body radiation emitted by the hydrothermal vent. For Rimicaris exoculata, the deep sea glows with the light of super-heated hydrothermal fluid, allowing it to both find food for its bacterial crop and avoid getting cooked itself.
It should be no surprise that Rimicaris exoculata is undoubtedly the favorite deep sea organism of another blind champion with super senses–Daredevil.
Isis checking out the Beebe Vent Field. Or Piccard, if you drive on the right side of the road.
Isis, checking out some vents.
Whats this all about?
One week of sea level rise recorded by the Sea Leveler.
Now that most of the bugs are out of the system, here is what a one week readout looks like on the Sea Leveler.
A few observations:
- The Sea Leveler is driven by twitter’s own search API, which is not perfect. The rapid dramatic drops are due to twitter updating its search parameters to exclude tweets more than a week old. Thus, the Sea Leveler records increased activity in real time and decreased activity less frequently, but in larger steps.
- I didn’t line the paper up very well, so the dates and times aren’t perfectly calibrated.
- The massive drop on 9 April is slightly more than a week after Boing Boing picked up the Sea Leveler, thus reflecting the tweets resulting from the coverage being purged from the search.
- The vertical lines that drop and return quickly are errors in the search function. The Sea Leveler is programmed not to move if the search function returns 0 tweets (which would indicate a connectivity problem).
- I don’t know what was going on on 12 April, but @johnvanderhoef and @lindsaycthomas were tweeting up a storm from what sounds like a very interesting series of talks.
I’ve currently set the Sea Leveler to record a full month on one roll, so be sure to check back in May to see how it’s going. Until then, keep talking about #sealevelrise!
The Sea Leveler.
Two weeks ago, I announced my latest Hacking the Ocean project, an open-source, Arduino-powered water level meter that monitors the frequency of tweets containing the hashtag #sealevelrise. Since launch, the Sea Leveler has had some bugs and received some good press. Now that I’ve had some time to monitor its performance and work the bugs out of its code, it is finally time for the promised “how to build the Sea Leveler” post.
This project was much more involved than my Arduino build and significantly more rewarding. The Sea Leveler was a challenge on multiple fronts, from learning to make the Arduino talk to twitter to physically modifying the water level meter. As I noted in my first project log, I have very little programming experience, and the major goal of this build was to level up my C++ skills. I’m very happy with the results, both technical and aesthetic.
For simplicity, I’m going to break this into two posts, one for hardware and one for software.
Continue reading Arduino Project Log: Building the Sea Leveler Part 1 — Hardware