I’m in the mood for something a bit lighter and fun this week, so I’ve invented a new feature (which may or may not exist beyond this week!): “How could you use it?” Okay, so the title of this new feature needs a bit of work, but the idea is that I pick one of the #swipefile* articles I include in my newsletter (not subscribed? Sign up here!) and do a quick brainstorm on how you could use it in your messaging and storytelling.
The story: (Unexpected!) creatures under the ice
After three months of floating on an ice shelf in the Antarctic and 20 hours of drilling through 3,000 feet of the ice they were standing on, researchers discover they drilled… in the wrong spot. That’s the bad news. The good (or rather, weird news): they discovered animal life that no one thought could or would exist down there. The lifeforms they found somehow survive without any daylight (not so unusual) or without any of the usual forms of sustenance they’d need (super duper unusual). The unexpected discovery has produced many more new questions than answers, but given the unlikelihood of the find, the news is a pretty major discovery in understanding what happens under the ice of Antarctica.
Other fun tidbits:
- Scientists weren’t actually looking for life, they were looking for sediment to study the history of the ice floe and its movement (but they set the camera down on a boulder, instead)
- Scientists have to melt 20 tons of snow to produce the 20,000 liters of hot water needed to bore only a few inches down into the ice
- Each round trip of the GoPro (!) camera lowered into the hole took an hour
- A “sessile existence” is one where lifeforms are stuck in place (helloooooo #pandemic)
- The detritus that falls slowly to the ocean floor from decomposing plants and animals is known as “marine snow”
- When a whale dies and decomposes, that’s known as a “whale fall” (I had a flashback to the old Twitter #whalefail screen that would come up when the service went down)
- Marine snow was generally thought to be an up-down/vertical phenomenon, but this discovery may mean that it also works side-to-side, thanks to currents
- If that’s so, the newly discovered lifeforms’ nearest source of marine snow is coming from between 390 and 930 miles away
- And if that’s so, that snow would need to travel 133 times the furthest up-down distance currently known (from the surface to the deepest part of the ocean, known as “Challenger Deep”)
- The currents caused by cooling seawater in the Antarctic are likely responsible for most, if not all, other currents on earth
- Because the life forms were not the original point of the experiment, they weren’t able to take the samples they would have needed to figure out what they eat
- The rock the life forms sit on seems to be pretty perfect for them: it gives them the food they need but isn’t likely to get buried
- Scientists don’t know how old the life forms are, but other forms similar to the ones they found have been known to survive for thousands (!) of years
- Even though the ice shelf covers 560,000 miles, the area of the ocean floor explored through these kinds of boreholes is only the size of a tennis court
How you could use it
As I mentioned when I originally posted it, this is clearly a great story of tenacity—of both the researchers’ and the life forms. Given what details you choose to focus on though, you could also use it as an illustration for concepts like:
- Persistence and determination
- Finding a silver lining
- “Life finds a way”
- There are always new things to discover
- Things don’t always work the way you think they do
- You can’t always get what you want, but sometimes you get something new to want instead (or, sure, you could quote the Rolling Stones)
- Find where you can thrive
When I mentioned the story to my friend and morning writing partner Denise Jacobs, her take was that it was a great illustration of how we humans always think we know the way the world “really” works. I love it as a great example of how scientists are always willing to question what they think they know when presented with new information.
Those are all the ideas Denise and I could come up with from that one story. What concepts or lessons do you see in it? Email me and let me know!
*The #swipefile is a collection of links to stories, studies, and other interesting stuff you can use in your messaging that I include in my weekly newsletterThe title of this new feature needs a bit of work, but the idea is that I pick one of my #swipefiles and do a quick brainstorm on how you could use it in your messaging and storytelling. Click To Tweet
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