The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny...' --Isaac Asimov
That's Funny… random header image

Barrow, Alaska

January 12th, 2014 by eric


Solar noon in Barrow, Alaska. The sun hasn’t risen for weeks, remaining just below the horizon, and won’t rise again until the end of the month.

I’m here for the next week with two graduate students from UAF. We’re studying the evolution and diversity of bacteria, fungi, and small animals that live in the sea ice, seawater, and ocean mud.

Looking out on the frozen sea, it’s hard to imagine that anything survives there, but under the microscope we can see that these environments, which we consider extreme, are actually quite hospitable for the organisms that are adapted to live there.

As my friend Kevin used to say, “Greek is easy once you learn it!” The same is true for these organisms — once they’ve evolved antifreeze-laden blood, mucus coatings, and proteins for reengineering the structure of the ice around them, living is easy, and in fact they wouldn’t have it any other way.

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