Vast Ocean Glow Confirms Jules Verne Novel

A luminescent area the size of the state of Connecticut was shown to have occurred in the Indian Ocean. "The circumstances under which milky seas form is almost entirely unknown," says Steven Miller, a Naval Research Laboratory scientist who led the space-based discovery. "Even the source for the light emission is under debate."


(From Satellite images confirm)

"So, our best working hypothesis is that we are witnessing bioluminescence produced by bacteria that are colonizing some kind of organic material present in the water," he said. "Satellite detection will hopefully allow us to target milky seas with properly equipped research vessels that will then be able to answer all these questions definitively."
(From Satellite sensors confirm myster glow in ocean)

I first read about this phenomenon when I was ten years old in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the classic 1875 novel by Jules Verne. Sailors had reported this phenomenon; Verne even included some speculation regarding its source:

My companions and I then witnessed a curious spectacle. The hatches of the saloon were open, and, as the beacon-light of the Nautilus was not in action, a dim obscurity reigned in the midst of the waters. I observed the state of the sea, under these conditions, and the largest fish appeared to me no more than scarcely defined shadows, when the Nautilus found herself suddenly transported into full light. I thought at first that the beacon had been lighted, and was casting its electric radiance into the liquid mass. I was mistaken, and after a rapid survey perceived my error.

The Nautilus floated in the midst of a phosphorescent bed which, in this obscurity, became quite dazzling. It was produced by myriads of luminous animalculae, whose brilliancy was increased as they glided over the metallic hull of the vessel. I was surprised by lightning in the midst of these luminous sheets, as though they bad been rivulets of lead melted in an ardent furnace or metallic masses brought to a white heat, so that, by force of contrast, certain portions of light appeared to cast a shade in the midst of the general ignition, from which all shade seemed banished. No, this was not the calm irradiation of our ordinary lightning. There was unusual life and vigour: this was truly living light!

Bioluminescence in sea water has been remarked upon since ancient times; seas that seemed to be on fire were reported as early as 250 BC. The specific speculation that some tiny sea creature too small to see caused the light was made about a century before Verne wrote his novel. Benjamin Franklin wrote in 1753 "It is indeed possible, that an extremely small animalcule, too small to be visible even by the best glasses, may yet give a visible light".

The data was gathered in 1995; it was reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this past week. Read more in Satellite images confirm mystery glow in ocean.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/8/2005)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Biology ")

Mechanical Milking Of Microalgae For Fuel Production
'They call 'em culture tanks. They have bugs -- germs -- growing in them.' - Hal Clement, 1950.

Fetal Lamb Rests In Artificial Womb
'... stewing warm on their cushion of peritoneum and gorged with blood-surrogate and hormones, the foetuses grew and grew...' - Aldous Huxley, 1932.

Bring Back Extinct Animals! Sort of.
'The worldwide network of genetic arks had a surfeit of pachyderms...' - David Brin, 1990

Another Soil Bacterium Eats Plastic
'...the plastic was dissolved before his eyes.' - Michael Crichton, 1969.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Mi TV LUX Transparent Edition OLED TV
The Look of Things To Come.

Metalenses Now Reconfigurable With Liquid Crystal
'Hufhuf oil held in static tension...'

'Alexa For Residential' A Landlord's Dream (Tenant's Nightmare?)
'...unseen mechanical entities... that are in our very midst. One of them following each of us.'

Gather Ye Moonrocks While Ye May
'The law of filing on newly discovered asteroids was definite.'

InMotion V11 Electric Unicycle Gets Air (Video)
'A tumblebug does not give a man dignity...'

Rid Thyself Of Ads On The Newsbox
'Can't we scramble that commercial?'

A.I. Jesus Proclaims Machine Gospel
'... he crossed the waiting room to the Padre booth; inside he put a dime into the slot and dialed at random.'

Google's Remixed 'Your News Update' ala Heinlein, Clarke, Pohl
'Perhaps we had better use the soundtrack and let it hunt.'

iSphere Plastique Fantastique Face Mask Alternative
'Among these were some clad in the insulated space-suits, with their transparent glassite helmets.'

Inkjet-Printed Wearable Solar Cells
Ultra-thin wearable organic photovoltaic material.

NDB Nuclear Waste Battery Lasts A Lifetime
'Trillions of units of power could be compressed thus into an inch-square cube of what looked like blue-white ice.'

Neuralink Will Land A Chip In Your Brain
'What are you talking about? Do you mean a neural lace?'

EPR Is Quick, Temporary Biostasis
'The cold-pack was being sucked out greedily by plastic suction tendrils...'

It's Time For Robots With Soft, Sensitive Skin
Sure, solid metal skin robots looked great once - like in science fiction movies of the 1920's.

An Ocean On Ceres
'We sailed gently forward, hull down to the asteroid's surface... A little sea was now beneath us.'

Microscopic Robots On The March!
'Microscopic machinery, smaller than ants, smaller than pins, working energetically, purposefully...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.