Scientists, according to this article at EurekAlert!, have very recently announced the discovery of a new type of squid. Yes. Squid. Here’s a picture of the new squid:
For some reason, I like this very much. The moment that I heard about it last Friday, I went straight to the web to find out more information about this creature. I downloaded the videos that were available so that I could watch it swim, and I listened to radio shows about it that were archived at NPR’s Science Friday. There have been eight sightings of this deep-sea squid over the past ten years, in oceans all around the world. It’s an odd squid, the articles report, because it has ten arms all the same length; most squid have eight arms all the same length, and then two other arms, called tentacles, which are longer than the others and are used for feeding. This new squid, which doesn’t yet even have a name, is not the fabled giant squid that reportedly lives in the deepest depths of the oceans and which rises closer to the surface only rarely in order to fight sperm whales, terrorize sailors and nineteenth-century adventure novelists like Jules Verne, and get washed ashore on beaches to puzzle onlookers. This new squid only gets to be about seven meters, or twenty-three feet, long. Just peanuts compared to the giant squid.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by stories of alien worlds and strange life forms. Of course, our own planet has some of the strangest life forms conceivable: tube worms that live in the hottest, deepest, most inhospitable spots on the earth, the geothermal vents, and which are part of some of the most bizarre ecologies on the planet. Angler fish, octopii, elephants, and so on. This, too, I like very much. I like knowing that there are things going on in the world which are beyond my own imagination and which puzzle even the brightest and most intelligent people. There’s a certain comfort in that. News of the discovery of a bizarre new form of life, even if I’ll probably never encounter it up close and in person, is almost like an early Christmas present from the world to me.
Much more prosaically, and much closer to home, life continues pretty much as it has before. I’ve been earning an A in the Java course that I’ve been enrolled in at UC Davis, which is good news. And while I’ve been working part time for the Land, Air, and Water Resources department at UC Davis, I’ve been having absolutely no luck finding work as a web developer. This is bad news. I’ve also been having a hard time finding a math class which will fit in which any work schedule that I might conceivably have, should I ever find work.
I’ve also been fighting a cold for the past week or so. The two of you who read this journal on an ongoing basis know that any time I have any sort of sickness — a cold, a flu, a bad case of acne — it ends up as an infection in my lungs, triggering asthma. So lately, I’ve been short of breath, and coughing a lot. But while I’ve been fighting a cold, our cat Tangerine has gotten over her mysterious ailment, which has cheered both Jennifer and I up very much.
I’ve also been perfecting a little piece of software that I’ve written for my family, an on-line wish list website that will allow people in our family to list things that we want for Christmas or our birthdays and let other people claim them if they want to. I started this program a few months ago when I was still working at my old company; and like most great works of art, this project will never be completed, only abandoned. Every now and then I’ll think it’s finished, and then my brother-in-law or my father will send me an e-mail saying, "Here’s a great feature that you should add to the wish list program." It’s fun to work on, and keeps me off the streets.
The quest for the perfect career goes on. The other day I sent an e-mail to a bioinformatics mailing list that I belong to, with a question about the role of GIS and bioinformatics in systems ecology. While most of the members of the list fell into a tangential discussion about the definition of GIS, at least one person wrote back to me privately to tell me that the question I had asked sounded like a long-term graduate school research project. and it does sound to me like something I’d be interested in pursuing. But when I did a quick search for bioinformatics jobs on Dice.com, I found that almost every job in bioinformatics requires a PhD in molecular chemistry. This is not an exaggeration.
Perhaps I’ll figure it out one day. Right now, though, it’s Christmas Eve², and my wife has given me a book called Bill the Galactic Hero by Harry Harrison. And so right now, I think that is what really needs my attention.
That, and the cool squid.
And just for the heck of it, here is a picture of some of those deep sea tubeworms that I mentioned above.