Alien Ocean: Anthropological Voyages in Microbial Seas

Alien Ocean: Anthropological Voyages in Microbial Seas


By (author) Stefan Helmreich

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  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Format: Paperback | 422 pages
  • Dimensions: 150mm x 226mm x 28mm | 544g
  • Publication date: 5 January 2009
  • Publication City/Country: Berkerley
  • ISBN 10: 0520250621
  • ISBN 13: 9780520250628
  • Illustrations note: 22 b/w photographs, 7 line illustrations, 2 tables
  • Sales rank: 211,350

Product description

"Alien Ocean" immerses readers in worlds being newly explored by marine biologists, worlds usually out of sight and reach: the deep sea, the microscopic realm, and oceans beyond national boundaries. Working alongside scientists at sea and in labs in Monterey Bay, Hawai'i, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and the Sargasso Sea and at undersea volcanoes in the eastern Pacific, Stefan Helmreich charts how revolutions in genomics, bioinformatics, and remote sensing have pressed marine biologists to see the sea as animated by its smallest inhabitants: marine microbes. Thriving in astonishingly extreme conditions, such microbes have become key figures in scientific and public debates about the origin of life, climate change, biotechnology, and even the possibility of life on other worlds.

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Author information

Stefan Helmreich is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of Silicon Second Nature: Culturing Artificial Life in a Digital World (UC Press).

Review quote

"Unique [and] innovative... Captures the excitement and crucial nature of oceanographic research... Perhaps Alien Ocean will inspire the next generation to fulfill the promise of environmental genomic sequencing." Nature 20090501 "Intriguingly, Alien Ocean's main characters are arguably not the scientists, nor Helmreich, but the sea itself and the bizarre microbial communities recently found there." Seed Magazine 20090401 "Erudite, widely ranging account of currently important aspects of marine microbiology and their broader implications." -- A. J. Kohn Choice 20090401 "One of the pleasures of Alien Ocean is Helmreich's playfulness." Technology Review 20090301 "Opens new vistas, creates fresh associations, and raises profound questions... Helmreich's work is a brilliant piece of scholarship." Mast 20100712 "An engaging treatise of a fascinating topic." Microbe Magazine 20100702 "Alien Ocean opens up whole new exciting realms of connections." Isis 20100712

Table of contents

List of Illustrations Moorings Acknowledgments Introduction: Life at Sea 1. The Message from the Mud: Making Meaning Out of Microbes in Monterey Bay 2. Dissolving the Tree of Life: Alien Kinship at Hydrothermal Vents 3. Blue-Green Capitalism: Marine Biotechnology in Hawaii 4. Alien Species, Native Politics: Mixing Up Nature and Culture in Ocean Oahu 5. Abducting the Atlantic: How the Ocean Got Its Genome 6. Submarine Cyborgs: Transductive Ethnography at the Seafloor, Juan de Fuca Ridge 7. Extraterrestrial Seas: Astrobiology and the Nature of Alien Life Notes Bibliography Index