NOAA Exploration Offers Front-Row Seats To Hawaii’s Bizarre Deep-Sea Ecosystems

The deep, dark ocean waters surrounding Hawaii are, in fact, a colorful and vibrant world of coral, fish and other bizarre creatures.

Last month, a team of scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration set out on a 69-day expedition called “Hohonu Moana” (“Deep Ocean,” in the Hawaiian language). Their goal? To investigate some of the Hawaiian archipelago’s most remote and unexplored waters.

The photos and videos they’ve captured thus far are nothing short of magnificent.

Using remotely operated vehicles launched from NOAA’s 224-foot Okeanos Explorer ship, the operation crew is exploring the waters in and around the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. They’re also investigating Johnston Atoll in the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, as well as the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.

“These areas represent some of the last relatively pristine marine ecosystems on the planet,” said Holly Bamford, assistant NOAA administrator for the National Ocean Service, in a July statement.

Best of all, NOAA is live-streaming its exploration through the end of September, allowing the public to join in on the fun miles below the surface.

On Thursday, the research team wrapped up the third of four mission legs with a dive around the USS S-19, a decommissioned Navy submarine that was sunk off the coast of Hawaii in 1938. As the remotely operated vehicle cruised around the coral-covered sub, one scientist asked the cameraman to zoom in on a bright red-and-orange fish in the sea toad family that was resting on the hull.

“Fish love their history,” someone joked. “They really appreciate it.”

After some discussion of the animal’s awkward features — including its fuzzy nose and apparently “poor hygiene” — someone else said, “He’s got an —> Read More

The Most Romantic Mathematician and His Language of Symmetry

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On the morning of May 30, 1832, a single shot fired in a duel fatally wounded one of the most brilliant, and certainly the most romantic mathematician — Évariste Galois. The following day, his last words to his weeping brother were: “Don’t cry, I need all my courage to die at twenty.” Figure 1 shows Galois at about age 15, as drawn by a classmate.

Figure 1. Galois in about 1826, drawn by a classmate. This image is in the public domain. It was possessed by Nathalie-Théodore Chantelot, his older sister, and her daughter Mrs. Guinard. The image was released by Paul Dupuy, École Normale Supérieure professor of history, with his article “La vie d’Évariste Galois,” in 1896.

This young genius achieved nothing less than inventing the mathematical language that describes all the symmetries of the world. Whether one analyzes symmetries of shapes, in music, or in particle physics, the same formalism — Group Theory — applies.

What is a mathematical “group”? Take as an example the whole numbers, positive, negative and zero, and the simple operation of arithmetic addition. You’ll notice the following properties:

  1. When you add two whole numbers, you get another whole number. For example, 3 + 6 = 9; -7 + 15 = 8.
  2. If you add three whole numbers, it doesn’t matter how you group them. For example, (9 + 3) + 5 = 9 + (3 + 5).
  3. There exists one whole number that when you add it to any other whole number, it leaves the latter unchanged. This is, of course, the number zero. For instance, 13 + 0 = 13.
  4. For every whole number, there exists another whole number such, that if you add then together you get zero. For example: 8 + (-8) = 0; (-17) + 17 = 0.

Any collection of objects —> Read More

Cattle raising, deforestation and ongoing tensions between conservation and development in the Amazon

Anthropologist Jeffrey Hoelle is as great an advocate of the Amazonian rainforest as the most ardent environmentalist. However, he argues, understanding the issues related to deforestation—or development, depending on how you look at it—requires a broad view that takes into account not only political and economic factors, but also the culture of the area. —> Read More

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