The secret under the bule water
Since the ancient era of Greek myth, human being has kept imaging the world under the sea, for instance, the French great novelist; Jules Verne revealed the mysterious world in his classic. In that novel, readers share the undersea adventure with Professor Aronnax, witness the wonderful creatures such as a giant squid, and gained vivid knowledge.
And now, in his article “20,000 Microbes under the sea”, Rovert Kunzig takes us to another journey fulfilled with intellectual excitement.
What’s under the water?
The author has visualized a totally unique ecosystem in the bottom of the sea. At there, Achaea, an ancient group of microbes is having a quite unique life-cycle. One group of them transfers hydrogen and carbon, extracted from organic sediments, into methane. The other group of Achaea consumes the methane, and provides energy for their partner in return. In this system, methane works as a currency of their metabolism. It has the amount of layered phases, and have built massive physical structure at the seafloor.
The author has also introduced us the astounding facts, such as the total mass of these microbes consists of 30% of the whole biomass on the earth, the total amount of methane, that have stored under the seafloor in state of hydrate, may larger than the every existing fossil fuels. More surprisingly, this amount of methane could trigger a massive climate change as it is strong greenhouse gas.
The vivid writing.
These facts are truly impressive; however, the author’s true talent has been shown in describing those ideas in vivid expression. For instance, in order to describe the unique ecology, the author has written like this,
“Seifert saw chimneys—black, knobby spires, the tallest rising more than 13 feet off the seafloor. (partially omitted) The pilot prodded one with Jago’s hydraulic arm. It was soft, like flesh. He knocked one over, felling it as if it were a tree to reveal its cross-section. Under a black outer layer there was a thick layer of pink and a core that was harder and greenish gray”.
These sentences are simple but strong, direct and evokes our imagination.
Apart from dramatic writing, the author is also talented at accurate description. He has used good metaphor, like this,
“ The mats on the seafloor there, and the walls of the chimneys, are a thick patchwork of methane-eating archaea and sulfate-reducing bacteria. “
Appropriate use of metaphor, simplification and different wording have helped our understandings, and expand the visual images.
This article tells us astounding facts, dramatic scenery and thrilling story, and It has also proven the fact that the best science writing also could be a first class entertainment, and in this case, the author’s talented writing skills are definitely hitting the crucial points.
Kunzig, R. (2005). 20,000 microbes under the sea. In T. Folger (Ed) The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2005 (pp 125-140). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Tittle page of 20000 league under the sea： Public domain image, taken from
Bubble image : photo © <A HREF=http://zotz.openphoto.net>drew Roberts</A>
for openphoto.net CC:Attribution-ShareAlike