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Paul Allen Lends Personal ROV To Study Coelacanths

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the new-meets-old dept.

Science 32

crudmonkey writes "It took a custom-made submarine, billionaire Paul Allen, and a tenacious desire lasting well beyond two decades to unveil enigmatic details about the life of the coelacanth—the primitive fish that invariably hooks researchers. A study published earlier this year in the journal Marine Biology summarizes 21 years of coelacanth population research."

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Credits (0)

pyrosine (1787666) | more than 2 years ago | (#38164958)

I think any billionaire would have done

Intellectual Ventures? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38164974)

How noble.

Is he taking his yacht [wikipedia.org] out to watch underwater with them?

Re:Intellectual Ventures? (3, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165174)

Is he taking his yacht [wikipedia.org] out to watch underwater with them?

As anyone who knows me could tell you, I really don't care about having a lot of money.

But sometime before I die, I would like to be able to use the phrase, "my personal submersible" if only for the way it makes my mouth feel to say those words.

Re:Intellectual Ventures? (3, Funny)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165468)

But sometime before I die, I would like to be able to use the phrase, "my personal submersible" if only for the way it makes my mouth feel to say those words.

Well, you can still say those words ... "alas, I will never have my own personal submersible". It just might not be as satisfying.

But, for the record, I would also like to be able to use the phrase "my personal submersible" ... "hey baby, want to come down to the marina and see my personal submersible?". It's just so Austin Powers.

Re:Intellectual Ventures? (2)

Alsee (515537) | more than 2 years ago | (#38170540)

"hey baby, want to come down to the marina and see my personal submersible?"

Ptttf! Loser.

Heeeay baaaybee. Wanna come back to my secret government facility? I'll let you drive a car on Mars.

-

Re:Intellectual Ventures? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38165854)

"But sometime before I die, I would like to be able to use the phrase, "my personal submersible" if only for the way it makes my mouth feel to say those words."

Wait for the next flood, then you can call your car that.

Re:Intellectual Ventures? (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 2 years ago | (#38173856)

But sometime before I die, I would like to be able to use the phrase, "my personal submersible" if only for the way it makes my mouth feel to say those words.

There are machines that fit the definition of a "personal submersible" which only cost around a thousand IBT (note at foot of message)

These are rather like underwater mopeds with a head/ shoulders shroud which is supplied with air by a SCUBA system (there's also a "bail-out bottle" in the ones I've seen advertised) ; this provides buoyancy at the top ; a waterproof housing with a car battery hangs at the bottom ; the two are joined by solid body incorporating a moped-like seat, with several thrusters in the body and steering controls for the user. Allegedly, no training is necessary. 10m depth limit though.

If you're not into SCUBA, they're not unbelievably expensive - I saw them advertised for tourist trips at moderately interesting prices on a Tenerife beach promenade, but I was getting my SCUBA ticket. (If you are into SCUBA ... you don't need this.)

I suppose I'd better RTFA now. Bad form, I know.

Fricke never observed reproduction, predation or juveniles, but believes the total Comoros population holds 300 to 400 individualsâ"a number he regards as viable.

As a population base, that's probably viable. But seeing no juveniles for what is obviously a long-lived period species ... that's a cause for concern. Ah ... but later there are reports of juveniles seen deeper using an un-manned ROV. Which makes perfect sense - it's not uncommon for juveniles and adults to have substantially different habitats and life styles.

Using Fricke's customized submersible JAGO

Fricke's sub ; not Allen's.
[...]

To explore potential juvenile and adult habitat deeper than Fricke's census area, Paul Allen - the cofounder of Microsoft - lent his ROV to Fricke for three dives.

An ROV system in this sort of depth capability range could only cost a few 10s of thousand IBTs. Substantial, but far less than the "JAGO" submarine. It'd need less deck space too, which is really important.

In commenting on the original article, I mentioned this book [nhm.ac.uk] , which is the current standard reference on fossil coelacanths. (Dr Forey, the author, is "Prof Coelacanth" at the NHM as much as Richard Fortey is "Prof. Trilobite" ; by all accounts I've heard of Prof.Trilobite in "lecture mode", the easiest way to distinguish the two is that one has a beard and is talking about something recognisably fishy, while the other is clean-shaven and talking about something with no good modern comparison. Mad as hatters, both of them. In a good sense.) I'm sure that Dr Forey has noted Fricke's work for inclusion in the next edition of his monograph.

[Note : IBT = International Beer Token ; while the absolute cost of a beer varies around the world, relative to other commodities it's less variable. A "beer" is equivalent to about 3-4 loaves of bread ; 1.25 "beers" plus the son of your deity of choice will feed around 1/5th milli-crowd ; a "beer" is approximately equivalent to 6-8 ready-rolled cigarettes.

Well, I find it useful. I also use the IBT concept for comparing pay rates in different continents to decide which jobs to accept.]

Re:Intellectual Ventures? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38176342)

Thank you, sincerely, for the information and your willingness to share it.

You've given me half a dozen starting points for various miscellaneous quests.

Re:Intellectual Ventures? (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 2 years ago | (#38182396)

"various miscellaneous quests"

I'll consider that a positive result then.

Thanks for the feedback ; it's appreciated.

Reason for research? (5, Funny)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165036)

And why is Paul Allen so interested in the Coelacanth? Because its existance might teach us something about how an ancient, unchanging, unadapting entity can yet survive deep below the surface while all its peers have evolved or perished. This research can then be used to help Microsoft.

Re:Reason for research? (2)

gislifb (1979154) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165126)

Why oh why did I finish my mod points a few minutes ago...this comment is golden!
I tip my hat to you sir.

Re:Reason for research? (1)

FreakyGreenLeaky (1536953) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165574)

/me sputters coffee on dual-head 27" LCDs

Re:Reason for research? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38165960)

You, SIr Mad Keith, are an artist, a current-day Wordsmith. Made me laugh so hard I had to shit my Turkey dinner...

Re:Reason for research? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38170348)

You shit your turkey dinner? You sir are not an artist, and certainly no Wordsmith.

Re:Reason for research? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38165968)

And why is Paul Allen so interested in the Coelacanth?

All I know is that nobody else ever gave Coelacanths their own ROV.

We all have pets, and lavish them with treats and toys. He's setting a high mark for the rest of us. What a nice man.

Re:Reason for research? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38169494)

This research can then be used to help Microsoft.

Or SCO....

Re:Reason for research? (1)

YaddaMinski (1654971) | more than 2 years ago | (#38175416)

But more and more person think the earth was created 4,000 years ago and fear the wrath of a jealous God.

Decomposing in an apartment somewhere in Hell's... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38165128)

I killed Paul Allen with an AXE to the FACE!

Re:Decomposing in an apartment somewhere in Hell's (1)

kj_kabaje (1241696) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165170)

Where's the mod "disturbing -1" when I need it.

Re:Decomposing in an apartment somewhere in Hell's (1)

halivar (535827) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165656)

Can I use it whenever I see Courier New? It's like Slashdot's Comic Sans.

I keed. I keed.

Mostly.

Ok, not really.

Evil One Percent (0)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165708)

Yet another example of the 1% Overlords only using their money to build 1-acre hot tubs, drink 100-year-old Scotch from disposable diamand shot glasses, and keep other people poor because that's what makes them happy.

Re:Evil One Percent (2, Insightful)

darkpixel2k (623900) | more than 2 years ago | (#38166484)

Yet another example of the 1% Overlords only using their money to build 1-acre hot tubs, drink 100-year-old Scotch from disposable diamand shot glasses, and keep other people poor because that's what makes them happy.

Yeah--because the 1% sends someone out to bitch slap any recruiter that tries to give you a job?

Or are you whining because you don't have the intelligence and skills to get into a position like Paul Allen?

I'll be the first to admit that I don't have those skills. And I'm not butt-hurt about it either. The entire world can't be billion-dollar-CEOs. Who would take out the trash, sweep the floors, build the products, run their servers, or design the next iPhone?

Re:Evil One Percent (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 2 years ago | (#38170692)

Actually, I was being sarcastic. Too subtly, apparently.

Re:Evil One Percent (1)

darkpixel2k (623900) | more than 2 years ago | (#38170744)

Actually, I was being sarcastic. Too subtly, apparently.

My subtlometer is either broken or off-scale low. ;)

Re:Evil One Percent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38172196)

Don't worry, Paul Allen hasn't stopped whining about how he was the founder and head of Microsoft and how that .00001%'er Bill Gates usurped his position through trickery.

Re:Evil One Percent (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38172452)

Even if everyone had a PhD, somebody still has to mop the restroom floors and take out the garbage. There are not enough high-end jobs to go around.

Plus, excessive wealth undermines democracy because the rich buy more influence in order to get richer in order to buy more influence in order to get richer in order to...

Re:Evil One Percent (0)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 2 years ago | (#38168696)

Don't confuse the master and the inmate that gets his ration in a bigger bowl than yours.
Waaaay bigger, ok ok. But sometimes even deserved.

The inmate reasons about the bowl size, the master plays with bowl sizes so that inmate keep fighting over them instead of starting a revolt.

Occupy Paul Allen's Submarine (0)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | more than 2 years ago | (#38165760)

Ya know, I don't see any Occupy protestors bitching about how they don't have a submarine. Get with the program people!

Primitive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38165772)

"Primitive fish" it isn't. Coelacanth is one of the most advanced species of fish, essentially a link between (regular) fish and tetrapods.

Re:Primitive? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38172472)

"Primitive" often means "closer to an earlier form" rather than "non-sophisticated". Sometimes you just find a nice niche and/or a nice combo of features that allow you to hang out for hundreds of millions.

Good stuff! (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38166524)

I'm extremely excited and I'll tell you why (lucky you).

When I was attending grade school in the1960's I came across a book in the school library that described, with pictures, this creature found alive sometime in the '30s which had been previously thought by man to be long extinct. I don't think there was another kid who found this even remotely interesting, but I was spellbound. I never lost this fascination and over the years occasionally thought about this strange and reclusive creature, and if it had in fact survived.

Fast forward to 1998. I was working in a bicycle shop in a small out of the way resort town and the owners had managed to hire a talented bike guy from another state they met on the phone through business.

Soon after he showed up, I noticed a small tattoo he had just above one of his ankles. It was quite unusual but somehow familiar. I knelt on the floor and took a closer look. Are you kidding me?? It was a Coelacanth!! We exchanged stories about our experiences of youthful discovery and quickly bonded.

Fast forward to yesterday. I saw the Paul Allen/Coelacanth story somewhere and followed the links. Paul Allen should not get as much credit as the media apparently thinks he deserves.

Go here for the full story:
http://news.mongabay.com/2011/1114-ucsc-west_coelacanth.html

And here for history and up to date info on the Coelacanth, including video!:
http://www.arkive.org/coelacanth/latimeria-chalumnae/video-00.html#text=All

My friend in coelacanth still works at the bike shop, but I have moved on. I emailed him and know he'll be as excited as I am. I may have to get a tattoo and keep the love alive. Brotherhood of the Coelacanth, anyone?

 

USPO (1)

decula03 (1082847) | more than 2 years ago | (#38168502)

No doubt looking for something important to patent.
Perhaps movement of fish through water by fin propulaion?

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