Inn at Penn Hotel
36th & Walnut Street
Department of Physics, University of Pennsylvania
“Deep Sea or Deep Space? Observations of structure and diversity in the near-universe and earth's own deep sea.”
Most of the habitable volume of planet earth is in the deep ocean, far away from the surface and earth’s atmosphere, or from the mostly muddy ocean floor. Creatures this habitat live in a three-dimensional void something like a cartoon version of living in outer space. A surprising diversity of colors, reflective surfaces and light-emitting organs can also be found in the animals found here. These observations suggest that the habitat is ecologically rich and structured as a coral reef or tropical rainforest, but since humans can’t directly observe behavior in this environment, our studies must be forensic in nature. The animals in the deep sea are arguably more challenging to observe in any systematic way than planets in our solar system or nearby galaxies. This talk will discuss some of the common challenges to astronomical observations and deep-sea biology, and the ways in which humans can observe the near-universe are at a more scientifically mature than our understanding of the deep ocean on our own planet.