Tuesday, September 24, 2013

As God is my witness, I thought diatoms could fly

Pinning through the thorax: Only
acceptable for vampire hunters
"I am not besotted with the prospect of hosting the Conan-Doyle-short-story-Charades Competition again this year," said Evangeline van Holsterin, head barmaid at the Old Entomologist. So Another Kiwi was all wide-eyes sadface while we reminded her that it is a time-honoured tradition. "It's always the same," she said. "Every team does 'The Beetle Hunter', and then there is argybargy and drink-spilth because you loonies can't make up your minds whether the story blackens the repute of insect collectors or promotes entomology as a career-embellishing accomplishment for young graduates. And then you get the hose again."
"Phony beetlemania has bitten the dust," AK vouchsafed.

This year, though, things were different. Perhaps inspired by Wainwright et al.'s report of finding a diatom shell aloft in the stratosphere at 25 km high, no fewer than three charade teams worked around 'The Horror of the Heights' -- Conan Doyle's century-old observations of high-altitude ecology from the pioneering days of altobiology. Eight miles high, and when you touch down, everything's stranger than OOPS SORRY we seem to be experiencing signal leak again. I warned them that it was a bad idea to site the Riddled cryotanks right beside a high-power radio transmitter, but no-one ever listens to old Uncle Smut.

Where was I? Oh yes, the existence of an elaborate ecology in the upper atmosphere has long been established fact. Some of the denizens of that rarefied habitat are cousins to Noctiluca scintillans and bioluminesce under stress.

Wainwright's group are the first to report a diatom... but keen though we are at Riddled Research Laboratory to promote wider use of the word 'frustule', we are not convinced that this particular sliver of silica came from space. Nor by Wainwright's theory that Heterokontophyta -- like other terrestrial life -- did not originate on Earth, but rather evolved in deep space before hitching a ride here on a comet. Not to be cynical but the competition for an Ignobel Prize grows tougher each year.

Wainwright's choice of the Journal of Cosmology as a vehicle for his important discovery is an unfortunate one, for it is a publication with a chequered past, if not downright go-boarded. The Journal is largely given over to promoting Steady-State Universe theories, veritable neologasms of deeply-meaningful word coinage lavishly illustrated with what appear to be Christian Psychedelia album covers.
It also leads the field in reports of odd-shaped rocks which are obviously carbonaceous-chondrite meteorites, so although some of the diatoms found within their pores are admittedly contaminants from ground water, others are necessarily recent arrivals from space.

Anyway, the edge-of-space balloon flights have also brought back the Dark Crystal!

Unaccountably, Wainwright et al. insist that it
is unequivocally biological. Here we see a complex organism which has a segmented neck attached to a flask-shaped body which is ridged and has collapsed under the vacuum of the stratosphere or produced during E/M analysis. The top of the neck is fringed with what could be cilia or a fringe which formed the point of attachment of the neck to another biological entity. The complexity of this particle excludes the possibility that is of non-biological in origin.
Also of interest is Figure 4. It
is also clearly biological in nature; here we see a somewhat phallic balloon-like structure which has presumably collapsed under low pressure. A “proboscis” is seen emerging from the left of the main cell which has two, nostril-like openings. At the top of the collapsed “balloon” is a sphincter-like opening.
PZ Myers has his own theory but to my admittedly untutored eye it appears to be related to Silurian Man Homo sapiens miniorientalis.

Conversely, Wainwright et al. insist that their Figure 1a [above right] is not of biological origin. Ha! It is plainly a mask of some kind. With plastic sweat out of chiselled slits for eyes From the growth underneath the closed mouth You'll catch if you listen Rack-trapped cubist vowels From a dummy head expression BLOODY BUGGRIT SIGNAL LEAKAGE again. FECKIN CLASSIC GOTH HOUR.

Off to the phone now to ring that sodding radio station and ask them to turn down the wattage, BRB.

UPDATED: altobiological ecology includes apex predator.

Update #2. OMFSM there are giant diatoms HOVERING OVER NZ.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

"Phony beetlemania has bitten the dust," AK vouchsafed.

Is there capital punishment in New Zed?

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Imagine a Speedranado.

Smut Clyde said...

That would certainly be helpful for Jennifer.

ckc (not kc) said...

A “proboscis” is seen emerging from the left of the main cell which has two, nostril-like openings. At the top of the collapsed “balloon” is a sphincter-like opening.

...head up his ass - clearly an extraterrestrial politician

M. Bouffant said...

Just when I thought I'd managed to forget Golden Earring.

Smut Clyde said...

Enjoy your "Radar Love" earworm, MB!

Substance McGravitas said...

Any chance these gentlemen would judge a person on the correct side of an argument to be unequivocally biological? Asking for a friend.

Anonymous said...

Hadn't heard the Earring version before. (Radar Love came out when I was in the service during the Cold War. The ELINT guys took it up as an anthem....)

Worth listening to: The Byrds long LIVE version on the [untitled album, the final album they released. (After Clarence White's death, they finally pulled the plug.) White was my favorite of all the Byrds lead guitarists. The way he and McGuinn trade riffs on the live Eight Miles is thoroughly splendid.

-- Fenwick

Smut Clyde said...

Pay no attention to M. Bouffant and his Earring-hate. He is just an old sourpuss & grumpyface.

tigris said...

unequivocally biological. Here we see a complex organism which has a segmented neck attached to a flask-shaped body which is ridged

Actually, it was found in a bed after someone dreamed of breaking off a finial on a distant planet.

Also, why DOES he insist it's non-terrestrial? Just because it's in the air?

Smut Clyde said...

"Breaking off a finial".