“Little bugs have littler bugs
On their backs to bite ’em.
And littler bugs have littler bugs
And so on in ad infinitum.”
No! Only to a single cell,
Where there’s a fearsome hunter,
That loves to eat its brothers.
It can harpoon or poison prey,
But that’s not all that’s weird.
It has an eye and wields a net
That planktons need to fear.
It takes a scanning electron microscopy
To see this tiny breed
An organic Gatling gun,
The littlest bug indeed.
By Kate Rauner
Thanks to livescience.com for their article on plankton. The quoted lines are often attributed to Ogden Nash, though the exact wording seems to have changed over time. Read more of my science-inspired poetry today.
Enceladus orbits in Saturn’s E Ring – it’s water geysers may have created the ring. NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute PIA08321
Wrenched by Saturn’s gravity,
By tides within its core,
Or radioactive isotopes
Releasing heat galore.
A water ocean circulates
Beneath an icy shell
That blocks the solar photons.
Here living things could dwell.
Supporting life like this.
Oceans are revealed, by geysers
Blasting through the cold.
Jets from the southern pole.
Mostly water vapor,
Some nitrogen, organics.
A sample thrown into the sky
If we can just collect it.
What may have surfed its boiling plumes?
What from the depths might rise?
A pseudo-fish’s brethren
On Saturn’s rings may ride.
By Kate Rauner
Visit space.com for possible missions to Europa and Enceladus, two moons that may harbor life in their liquid water oceans. See more on Enceladus at wikipedia.
Earth’s larger strings of ocean ridges.
Earth pulsates with her endless song,
Notes drawn out and much prolonged.
A seismic tune beyond our ears,
Yet never does it disappear.
Vibrations roll in gentle swells
To ring the Earth, a massive bell.
Wavelengths too long to feel,
Beyond our senses chime and peal.
Deep ocean waves rake and strum
Where strings of seafloor ridges run.
Bow to Earth’s violin,
Meditative hum within.
We humans live no more aware
Of Earth’s deep song than of the air.
“A new study… explains Earth’s mysterious, never-ending hum,” which is too faint and low for us to hear. Some animals, for example elephants, hear or feel well below the human range, so perhaps the Earth sings them lullabies.
Sea monkeys – a favorite of comic book ads
The fairy shrimp I netted
In thickly stagnant ponds
Have cousins in the oceans
And the oceans may respond.
Once thought as floating helpless,
Adrift at waters’ whim,
It seems they may create
Currents as they swim.
Swarms of tiny sea-monkeys,
Each with its own motility,
Make swirls and eddies as they swim;
Great herds of plankton could, therefore,
Mix oceans as they swim,
Effect the climate of the world
With their lacy limbs.
This effect needs to be confirmed, but is just too poetic a possibility to ignore. I also couldn’t resist slipping in the fairy shrimp – as a kid, I netted fairy shrimp in a stagnant pond choked with leaves and algae. The shrimp had to swim up to the surface through black water for a little sun. I’d watch them swim in a jar for a while, and then dump them back since I didn’t know what to feed them. I never thought what a billion billion of them might accomplish.
Artist’s concept of Cassini studying Titan
Salt preserves a water’s flow,
Suppresses freezing in the cold.
Cassini’s gravity data show
There is salt water down below
Titan’s outer crust of ice,
And liquid water does entice.
Salt on Mars may also say
That water flows there some days.
Ten times the salt of earthly seas
But for a very few of these.
The Dead Sea harbors microbes small
That only thrive when rain drops fall.
Alga, fungi, biofilms
Find fresh water most welcome.
Yet methane found on Titan, Mars,
Cannot survive the sunlight scars.
Here’s where NASA’s Phoenix landed
On Earth we’d say that life is there
Releasing methane in the glare.
So is there life on Saturn’s moon?
Did Martian soils ever bloom?
Now we’re poised to learn more,
To fly the missions, and explore.
by Kate Rauner
There are many places to read about the solar system. Try one of these.