Phytoplankton are essential for almost all life on Earth; the minuscule photosynthetic marine organisms anchor the oceans' food chain while also producing about half the oxygen on the planet. We know very little about them, though, in part because studying phytoplankton blooms as they drift across the sea is difficult.
Greenpeace is known for its controversial "actions." Take, for example, their action late last month against oil giant Chevron, in which two activists dangled from the anchor chain of a drill ship to keep it from reaching its destination off the Shetland Islands. Perhaps lesser known is the organization's support of independent scientific research, like its current campaign to investigate the marine impact of the BP oil spill—which occurred six months ago today—and the use of toxic dispersant to clean it up.
To perform the first scientific survey of the entire Titanic site this summer, the crew of 30 researchers needed several miles of fiber-optic cable and a phalanx of robots. Now that they’ve imaged every surface of the historic ruins, all you’ll need to view their 3-D photo-real model of the wreck is a computer.
Typhoons threaten the western Pacific relentlessly year-round, dogging coastal cities along the eastern coast of Asia and sometimes unleashing devastating power that can cost human lives. But even as Taiwan and China clean up after Typhoon Fanapi flooded streets and claimed a handful of lives earlier this month, a Japanese company has patented a scheme that uses submarines to downgrade the force of typhoons as they threaten to make landfall.
Director James Cameron has commissioned Australian designers to build a sub that can plunge 36,000 feet beneath the surface of the ocean, hoping to combine his love for deep waters with his apparent craving for cash. If he can pull it off, he could win a $10 million X Prize and shoot footage for an “Avatar” sequel simultaneously.
In 1894, American inventor Simon Lake designed the Argonaut Jr., a wheeled vehicle that would drive along the seafloor, the only way to reliably navigate underwater at the time. The unusual concept has inspired sub aficionados ever since. Among its fans are Doug and Kay Jackson, married DIYers from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who in June built a watertight replica from lumber, lead and enough marine epoxy to overflow a bathtub.
Based at a new multi-million-dollar energy research station, a Chinese deep-sea sub will search for new energy sources and rare-earth metals on the ocean floor, according to Chinese state-run media.
Chinese officials announced Thursday that the new Jiaolong sub made 17 dives in the South China Sea this summer, the deepest to 12,332 feet (3,759 meters). The feat makes China the fifth country to dive past the 3,500 meter mark.
Carbon nanotubes could provide better stealth technology for submarines, helping them to "see" other undersea objects while remaining invisible to enemy subs. A report in ACS Nano Letters details a new application of a previously-known property of sheets of carbon nanotubes just a fraction of the width of a human hair that nonetheless can generate sound and cancel out noise far better than current sound-generating tech.
We can now tweet from the International Space Station and make phone calls from the summit of Mount Everest, so why can't we get any check our email from the ocean floor? A new Lockheed Martin program, plainly named Communications at Speed and Depth, will plug deep-diving stealth submarines into the DoD's Global Information Grid, just like any other surface vessel.
A team of unmanned subs developed by European researchers could use new software to work together as a team, exploring the ocean's deepest secrets, conducting search-and-rescue operations or, conceivably, sealing off a blown-out oil well.
The European Union-funded Grex project, named for the Latin word for "flock," involves networking software to coordinate multiple autonomous underwater vehicles, or AUVs. Multiple AUVs can benefit from the sum of their parts, as the project's Web site notes -- each could perform separate functions that contribute to a larger mission.