Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 19 Issue 03

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Volume 19, No. 3
Pages 10 - 13


RIPPLE MARKS • Music of the Spheres | Red Rain | Kelp Highway | Killifish Adapt to Toxins | Fueling Fishing

Cheryl Lyn Dybas
First Paragraph

Music of the Spheres: John Luther Adams Blends Science, Art, and Music

In the "Music of the Spheres" episode of The Outer Limits, aliens transmit an audiotape to Earth to save humans from lethal solar radiation. The tape, carrying sounds of the universe, is so entrancing that anyone who hears it falls under its spell. The music of Alaska artist and scientist John Luther Adams is no less enchanting. Adams expresses the sounds of Earth, sea, and sky, as well as the moon and Sun: the music of the spheres. His innovative exhibition, The Place Where You Go to Listen, at the University of Alaska's Museum of the North in Fairbanks, echoes the ancient concept of the movements of celestial bodies—the Sun, moon, and planets—as a form of music. Pythagoras, the Greek "father of numbers" who lived from about 582­–507 B.C.E., first used the term "music of the spheres." He thought of the cosmos as a lyre, with crystal spheres instead of strings.

Red Rain: Red Rain over India—Are Aliens in Our Midst?

Red rain fell over Kerala, India, from July 25 to September 23, 2001, staining everything it touched blood-red. Scientists Godfrey Louis and Santhosh Kumar of India's Mahatma Gandhi University initially suspected the rain was tinged with fallout from a meteor, then further study indicated that the rains had been colored by spores from a red alga. Recently, Kerala's red rains have garnered worldwide attention, with a theory that the colored particles are in fact extraterrestrial cells that hitched a ride to Earth on a comet.

Kelp Highway: "Kelp Highway" May Have Led to Peopling of the Americas

Did humans migrate from Asia to the Americas along Pacific coastlines near the end of the Pleistocene era? If so, undersea forests of kelp may have aided their journey, according to maritime archaeologist Jon Erlandson of the University of Oregon. Kelp forests are among the world's most productive ecosystems. They're found from Japan to Alaska to Oregon, from California to South America's west coast. "Kelp ecosystems would have provided an assortment of food resources, from shellfish to fish to sea mammals and seabirds, along thousands of miles of the Pacific coast," said Erlandson. "They also would have reduced wave energy, making it easier for early peoples to travel along this 'highway' in boats."

Killifish Adapt to Toxins: For Better or Worse, Killifish Thrive in Toxic Superfund Site Waters

The waters of New Bedford Harbor, Massachusetts, sparkle on sunny days. But beneath the bay's gleaming surface lies one of the most toxic environments in the nation. "You'd think nothing, absolutely nothing, would be able to live in New Bedford Harbor," said Jim Kendall, fisherman and president of New Bedford Seafood Consulting. "But you'd be dead wrong. Something does live there, and in huge numbers: tiny fish called killifish."

Fueling Fishing: Global Fishing Fleet Consumes More Oil Annually Than Most Nations

Global fishing fleets account for annual oil consumption equivalent to that of the Netherlands, the world's 18th-ranked oil consuming country. They also directly emit more than 130 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year, according to resource economist Peter Tyedmers of Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada. Tyedmers and scientists Reg Watson and Daniel Pauly of the University of British Columbia published results of their study of global fishing fleets' fuel consumption in the December 2005 issue of the online journal Ambio.


Dybas, C.L. 2006. Ripple marks—The story behind the story. Oceanography 19(3):10–13, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2006.53.

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