I spent 50 days working out in Virtual Reality and everything went better than expected.

For the last several years, I’ve been working off the weight gained and fitness lost from a decade of grad school, post-doctoral research, job hunting, and, ultimately, launching my own company. The gym, to put it mildly, had not been a priority. Running and weight training went a long way towards getting me back to where I wanted to be, but I had hit a plateau. Every spring and summer I’d make incremental improvements, every winter, I’d fall back into old habits. It was a sustainable situation, but not fantastic.

Last summer, I set a goal for myself. While the weather was just on the wrong side of that threshold that makes running something I’m willing to do first thing in the morning, I would instead swap out my sneakers for an Oculus Rift, and spend an hour, four or five days a week, playing fitness-oriented virtual reality games, for fifty sessions. That schedule would get me through the winter and hopefully keep me more active than I otherwise would.

To better illustrate this plan, I made a GIF, just for you:

Yes, it’s me. Yes, we put googly eyes on the Oculus.

Unsurprisingly, the science behind Virtual Reality and exercise is still in its infancy.

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The ongoing wonder of hagfish, deep-sea mining’s race to the bottom, saving whales with lineless lobster traps, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: January 21, 2019

Logo for Monday Morning Salvage.

Foghorn (A Call to Action!)

It’s month two of the longest shutdown in US history and there’s only one party who won’t allow a vote to reopen the government proceed. Have you called you senator today?

And while I have your attention, FYI:

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)3-D Printing the Ulitmate Deep-Sea Christmas Tree

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SeaWorld versus OSHA versus Brett Kavanaugh, sea lions and sucker punches, this dumpster whale is all of us, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: October 1, 2018.

Foghorn (A Call to Action!)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

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High octopuses don’t love you back, sextants in space, protect our ocean monuments, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: September 24, 2018

Logo for Monday Morning Salvage.

Foghorn (a call to action)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

  • Gulper Eels are amazing. Amazing.

There are approximately 30 vaquitas left in the world Illustration: Mona Chalabi

There are approximately 30 vaquitas left in the world
Illustration: Mona Chalabi

  • There are sextants on the International Space Station and I can’t stop thinking about it.

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The rise of low-cost ROVs and community submersibles

The following appeared this Monday on the DSM Observer, the only trade journal committed to covering all aspects of the emerging deep-sea mining industry. Though written for the deep-sea mining community, the subject is broadly relevant to a host of ocean industries, so we reprint it below. 


The submarine Noctiluca cruises across the surface. Photo Courtesy Shanee Stopnitzky.

The submarine Noctiluca cruises across the surface. Photo Courtesy Shanee Stopnitzky.

As a community, we discuss mining, management, and monitoring, as well as the regulations that shape them, in terms of governments, major corporations, and research institutions. The deep-sea mining community is small and the complexities of working at abyssal depths engenders collaboration, cooperation, and, in the case of exploitation, compromise. While there are many stakeholders potentially affected by deep-sea mining, only a small proportion of them will ever directly engage with the deep seafloor.

A few extremely wealthy individuals have access to private submersibles and ROVs and have on occasion made them available for research and exploration, but they are the exception. The tools necessary to reach the depths of a hydrothermal vent or polymetallic nodule field are simply too expensive.

That may soon change.

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Everything you need to know about conservation you can learn from Alien(s)

As a provider of advice on how to do effective conservation, Southern Fried Science has previously looked to such as The Game of Thrones for inspiration. Today we look at another famous source of conservation tips: Alien (and Aliens)…

A single charismatic animal can be a great motivator for action.

Jones the cat

Scientists sometimes have self interests that can derail a project.

Science officer Ash

Just when you think everything is going ok a crisis hits…

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Conservation has a Trolley Problem

A train screams down the tracks. Dead ahead, a pile of of giant pandas frolic, inexplicably, through a bamboo stand growing through the rails. But wait! There’s a switch. Pulling it will divert the train onto another track, where a tank containing one of the last 30 vaquita will surely be crushed. Do you pull the lever, dooming the vaquita, or hold the line, flattening the frolicking pandas? Do you stammer indecisively, wondering how you ended up in this situation as you careen, inexorably, into into an increasingly unavoidable outcome?

What if, rather than the conductor’s seat, you’re at the helm of a conservation organization? What if the train wasn’t a hundred tons of steel and steam, but the relentless press of public will, funding, and focus upon which it is your duty to shape and direct into action?

What if conservation has a Trolley Problem?

Ah the Trolley Problem, the thought experiment turned pop-philosophy darling whose use and misuse is, at best, an annoyance to every ethicist I know. Regrettably, I do them no favors here.

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A new Gulf oil spill, opposition to deep-sea mining, DIY drop cameras, and more! Massive Monday Morning Salvage: October 30, 2017

I’ve been away for 2 weeks, so it’s a super-massive edition of the Monday Morning Salvage!

Fog Horn (A Call to Action)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

Sampling SMS under the sea Photo: Nautilus Minerals

Jetsam (what we’re enjoying from around the web)

Hey, Andrew, how about you give us at least *some* good news today? Ok, fine.

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Chasing Genius, aquatic brain blobs, hurricanes, bats, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: September 4, 2017

Fog Horn (A Call to Action)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

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The sorting hat of conservation

The Hogwarts Sorting Hat divides students into their respective houses in their first year at the school of witchcraft and wizardry. Each house is known for having its own “personality.” In addition to potential wizards/witches, one can also sort those involved in conservation into the four Hogwarts houses.

  • Hufflepuff – This house stands for dedication and hard work, but also patience, tolerance, fair play and kindness. Most conservationists working in NGOs, especially those related to protection of megafauna species, are Hufflepuffs. One famous Hufflepuff was Newton Scamander, a socially awkward wizard who took it upon himself to try to save endangered magical creatures, when others just saw them as pests. Most of the herbology teachers at Hogwarts were Hufflepuffs (Neville Longbottom being a notable exception).

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