It can be hard to look for the bright side in a tragedy. But resolving tragedies often requires an immense amount of human effort, and that effort results in new knowledge. New genetic forensics techniques emerged from the identification of 9/11 victims, for example. Another tragedy, the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 three years ago, is starting to yield its own benefits to the scientific community.
DIVE DEEP ENOUGH under the surface of the ocean, and light reigns. Some 90 percent of the fish and crustaceans that dwell at depths of 100 to 1,000 meters are capable of making their own light. Flashlight fish hunt and communicate with a flashing Morse code sent by light pockets that pulse under their eyes. Tubeshoulder fish shoot luminous ink at their attackers. Hatchetfish make themselves appear invisible by generating light on their underbellies to mimic downwelling sunlight; predators prowling below look up to see only a continuous glow.
File this under definitely not good: global warming is depleting the oceans of oxygen. You know, that little molecule that we, along with all other complex life forms, require in order to breathe and therefore live.
We know surprisingly little about our oceans. To help with this glaring blind spot, the XPrize has announced a new $7 million contest to foster innovations in ocean exploration technology.
In the Internet age, it’s easy to tell yourself you’ve seen it all. But while you’ve probably consumed a lifetime’s worth of cat videos, explosion gifs, and Hitler-vs-dinosaur action sequences at this point, the natural world’s still got plenty of surprises in store.