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 […]

Did I Call It? Did I Call It?

So Lever et al have found something in the rocks, deep below the Pacific seabed (Source paper; supplementary materials; Wired popsci commentary). It eats inorganics, notably sulfur— (βehemoth assimilates several inorganic nutrients 26-84% more efficiently than its closest terrestrial competitors. This is especially problematic when dealing with sulfur.) —it’s an anaerobe— (“βehemoth doesn’t just predate […]

Posted in: biology, deep sea, rifters by Peter Watts 30 Comments

A Picture Worth 178 Words

Some of you may remember this scene at the very end of Starfish — the moment when the chrysalis splits open and Lenie Clarke Mk 2 emerges to wreak vengeance on the world: A slender, translucent tentacle wraps softly around her wrist. It fades away into a distance utterly black to most, slate gray to […]

Posted in: deep sea, rifters by Peter Watts 2 Comments

Perdido Shell Station

From the outline for Intelligent Design, a near-future Crichtonesque (except, you know, well-written) novel currently languishing on my back burner: Nate Hochachka arrives on Baffin Island under complete news blackout. He has no idea why CSIS wants him here: he’s freshly-minted faculty at the University of British Columbia, still paying off his student loans and […]

Posted in: deep sea by Peter Watts 14 Comments

The Living Dead

Meet Candidatus Desulforudis audaxviator, the bacterium that does it all: fix carbon, fix nitrogen, synthesize all essential amino acids, locomote — an organism that can exist totally independent of other life. It doesn’t even need the sun. This fucker basically lives on sulfur, rock, and electrons*. It’s an obligate anaerobe, without even the most rudimentary […]

Scramblers in the Shallows, Light in the Deeps

This is a short, stunning clip that starts with deep-sea glowsticks and segues to shallow-water cephalopods. The first part gives you a taste of Beebe Station; the second (including the Two-Faced Squid!) demonstrates some camo tricks that make scramblers look like amateurs. No new information here, but beautiful. Try to ignore the creationist idiot in […]

Posted in: biology, deep sea by Peter Watts 16 Comments

Benthic Baptisms

So it begins (actually continues, but let’s not let accuracy get in the way of a good cliché): the race to exploit the deep sea. A couple of choice quotes: “deep sea mining … has the potential to explode … The hotspots are ocean floor geysers known as hydrothermal vents … “…we know almost nothing […]

Posted in: deep sea, writing news by Peter Watts 9 Comments