Giant Dolphin Spotted On Jupiter!
Ok, the title was clickbait, since I hope that readers of this site are sure (pretty sure, anyway) that there are no giant dolphins on Jupiter. Of course, even though pareidolia is a typical psychological phenomenon, take a look at this:
(Pareidolia-created dolphin swims in jupiter's atmosphere)
I thought this would be a good opportunity to talk about vast creatures living in unusual atmospheres. Arthur C. Clarke wrote a wonderful story about a solar observatory on the planet Mercury that made an incredible, unexpected observation during a massive flare:
We were looking at what seemed to be a translucent oval, its interior laced with a network of almost invisible lines. Where the lines crossed there appeared to be tiny, pulsing nodes of light...
What we were seeing was impossible, yet the evidence was there before our eyes. We were looking at life, where no life could exist.
The eruption had hurled the thing out of its normal environment, deep down in the flaming atmosphere of the sun...
(From Out of the Sun ~1959)
More recently, Stephen Baxter wrote in his 1994 novel Ring about photino birds, creatures that lived within suns, and could even fly between them:
She descended into the Sun, through the ... flock of photino birds. The birds soared past and around her, tiny planets of dark matter racing through their tight solar orbits.
The birds continually nudged toward or away from each other, like a horde of satellites maneuvering for docking. Many of the transient clusters they formed ... seemed immensely complex. There had to be a reason for all this activity...
(From Ring, published 1994)
It turns out that there was a reason - but you'll have to read the book to find out! Other works in the "creatures on the sun" genre include Proof by Hal Clement and Sundiver by David Brin.
Of course, I need to mention Arthur C. Clarke's 1971 novella A Meeting With Medusa, which describes vast creatures resembling jellyfish in Jupiter's atmosphere.
The first time it had been crawling across the drifting mountains of foam, and he had mistaken it for a giant, many-trunked tree. Now at last he could appreciate its real size and complexity and could give it a better name to fix its image in his mind. It did not resemble a tree at all, but a jellyfish - a medusa, such as might be met trailing its tentacles as it drifted along the warm eddies of the Gulf Stream.
This medusa was more than a mile across and its scores of dangling tentacles were hundreds of feet long. They swayed slowly back and forth...
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