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sunny weather
87°F (30.6°C)
Latitude: 25 deg 53.39’S
Longitude: 69 deg 33.60’E
Wind Direction: SE
Wind Speed: 12 Knots
Sea State 3
Swell(s) Height: 8-10 Foot
Sea Temperature: 78°F (25.9°C)
Barometric Pressure: 1014.0 MB Visibility: 18+ Nautical Miles

glass ball
Massachusetts-based artist Josh Simpson makes glass “Planets” like this one, which we placed at the newly-discovered vent site.

what's to eat today?
Daily Update: Art on the seafloor
April 21, 2001
By Amy Nevala

The Central Indian Ridge has provided us many treasures. Rocks flecked with golden pyrite. Cool, salty seawater samples. Shrimps, snails and barnacles. Last night we gave an offering in return, a grapefruit-sized glass “Planet” created by a Massachusetts artist.

Geologist Dan Fornari met glass blower Josh Simpson 20 years ago at a New York art fair, when Dan was in graduate school and Josh just starting his art career. Bound by their shared interest in the arts and oceans, they maintained a friendship and for the past five years, Dan has seeded the mid-ocean ridges and hydrothermal vents in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Ocean with at least a dozen of Josh’s Planets.

Josh thinks of them as artifacts that get reincorporated into the Earth and left for future generations to find, like the glass ampoules found in the Pharaohs’ tombs in Egypt.

“I’m hoping that hundreds of years from now, archeologists will be confounded by these little Planets,” Josh wrote in an email today from his home in Western Massachusetts. “I’m hoping people will find them and wonder what on Earth they are.”

From Indian Ocean vents to Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral to the Hawaiian Islands, Josh sprinkles his Planets worldwide. “I love the fact that ROV Jason and Alvin have placed my Planets in locations on our Earth that have never been explored before,” said Josh.

Josh’s elaborate Planets evolved from simple glass marbles he made for local eighth grade students as a way to teach them about glass blowing. Eventually the marbles became larger, more elaborate spheres patterned with colorful twists, spirals and trapped air bubbles.

“Each one of my Planets is meant to be a new little world, waiting to be explored,” said Josh. “I always try to include small details on the surface or interior that you might miss if you don’t look closely or examine with a magnifying glass.”

They captivate their audience. Place one on the table in the main lab on Knorr and scientists vie to cradle the cool, smooth glass in their palms. They hold the heavy glass to the light and sigh as they point out a green continent, a purple wave, an orange anemone.

Each time Dan explores a vent, he secures a Planet on ROV Jason, Alvin or the elevator. Then he carefully picks a seafloor home. Yesterday he had ROV Jason plunk a blue and pink swirled Planet near the base of a black smoker chimney, christening the new hydrothermal vent site we discovered just a day ago.

Swarms of shrimp descended, and the Planet disappeared from sight under their white, wiggly bodies.














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