Alien Ocean: Anthropological Voyages in Microbial Seas by Stefan Helmreich

By Stefan Helmreich

Alien Ocean immerses readers in worlds being newly explored through marine biologists, worlds frequently out of sight and succeed in: the deep sea, the microscopic realm, and oceans past nationwide barriers. operating along scientists at sea and in labs in Monterey Bay, Hawai'i, the Woods gap Oceanographic establishment, and the Sargasso Sea and at undersea volcanoes within the japanese Pacific, Stefan Helmreich charts how revolutions in genomics, bioinformatics, and distant sensing have pressed marine biologists to work out the ocean as lively by means of its smallest population: marine microbes. Thriving in astonishingly severe stipulations, such microbes became key figures in clinical and public debates concerning the beginning of existence, weather switch, biotechnology, or even the potential for existence on different worlds.

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The Message from the Mud / 43 FIGURE 6. Oceanic sublime meets mathematical, media sublime. ROV control room on the Point Lobos. ©MBARI. Reproduced with permission. "19 Just so, Pete and the ROV pilots behave as different parts of a distributed body, adjusting to each other's perceptions and prosthetics. One pilot is hands, another, wings. Pete serves as the guiding gray matter. "zo Classical sociologies of relations between scientists and ship's crew comment upon the different expertise these parties have, on how class hierarchies are often reinforced through divisions between "mental" and "manual" labor.

Pete asks the captain about the ship's future. There is talk of decommissioning Lobos, transforming it into a craft that can maintain elements of MBARI's next big technological undertaking-a distributed ocean observatory, a network of remote sensing buoys providing continual Internet access to data from the sea. I later hear a talk at MBARI about how such networks would allow scientists to sit at home gathering oceanographic data. No need for seasickness pills, yak sites, or, indeed, fieldwork; what counts as presence in the field---'-presence upon which representations will be based-is transforming.

Knute says yes. " Knute explains about clams and tubeworms and cold seeps. The docent thanks him and proceeds, on the fly, with the help of a vast video menu, to explain what these are. She tells her audience that hydrogen sulfide smells like rotten eggs, that methane smells like what comes out of a cow when it farts. Ventana is up. It does smell. Adam labels the mud-filled pushcores and transfers them into a holding box. Still scouting for whales on the horizon, I make out the shore and recall a whale-monitoring program run by the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML), the other research center in Moss Landing.

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