Breathing Metal

Those of you familiar with Blindsight‘s Scramblers may remember this quirk about their physiology: they didn’t keep all their metabolism on the inside. “I don’t think Rorschach’s magnetic fields are counterintrusion mechanisms at all. I think they’re part of the life-support system. I think they mediate and regulate a good chunk of scrambler metabolism… If […]

Geoengineering and the Evils of Conservation

Well, traditional conservation, anyway. The kind where you presume to “manage” a wildlife population by ensuring, year after year, that its population remains stable. The problem is that as any population varies, so too does its behavior. Mortality curves, reproductive rates, vulnerability to pathogens and predators — a hundred other variables — all change with […]

Posted in: climate, marine, rant, scilitics by Peter Watts 22 Comments

Sealing Fate

I’ve got a soft spot for seals. Back in the day I built a fair bit of my truncated biology career on the little beach maggots; Pacific harbor seals formed the very heart of my doctoral thesis, in fact (Attila, Thalidomide, and Strangway: I salute you, wherever you ended up). They even netted me a […]

Posted in: biology, marine, scilitics by Peter Watts 21 Comments

Last Rites, Lost Rights

Take Roger Bradbury very seriously.  He’s no crank: coral reef specialist, heavy background in mathematical ecology, published repeatedly in Science. Chief and director of more scientific panels than you could roll a raccoon over.  So when he says the coral reef ecosystem is already effectively extinct — not the Florida Keys, not the Great Barrier […]

Coincidence? I Think Not.

So, I see that some of you have noticed the endearing footage of the kleptopus making off with some hapless diver’s video camera. (For those who don’t follow the endlessly proliferating comment threads from previous posts, the smoking-gun is here.1) Oh yes, how cute. But how many of you have noticed how closely this act […]

Posted in: biology, marine, misc, writing news by Peter Watts 42 Comments

Deep Sea = Deep Space

A few bits of personally-relevant science have slid down the pike the past few days:  yet another step along the road to functioning head cheeses, and a development in graphene tech that might — if you squint really hard and give me way more credit than I deserve — seem a bit reminiscent of Rorschach‘s computational […]

Posted in: biology, extraterrestrial life, marine by Peter Watts 6 Comments

Remedial Gigerology, Part 2

I’m guessing this portrait is already familiar to a lot of you, since I got the link both from a fellow skiffhead and a boardroom mundane, but — speaking as a biologist — this is one of the creepiest, most unsettling creature pics I’ve ever seen. This thing has teeth where a beak should be […]

Posted in: biology, marine by Peter Watts 19 Comments

The Skiffies…

Being the selection of a recent science item, hitherto unreported on this ‘crawl, most near and dear to my heart. Oddly, most of the items I’ve noticed recently seem reminiscent of my second book Maelstrom — from this tell-us-something-we-don’t-know piece in the NY Times about the increasing fragility of complex technological systems to Naomi Klein’s […]

Posted in: biology, marine, neuro by Peter Watts 11 Comments

Remedial Gigerology

Okay, I need to tell no one here how very cool it is that moray eels have a second set of accessory jaws that leap out of their throat to handle difficult prey. You all know the obvious movie reference. What I don’t know is, there are a couple of hundred species of moray eels […]

Posted in: biology, marine by Peter Watts 7 Comments