As a science blogger I'm always scanning through photosets of scientists at work in the lab. You know the sort of photo: white coats, Petri dishes, microscopes... It's rarely captivating stuff. So when I ran across these amazing images by visionary photographer Roger Ressmeyer I had to share them.
I absolutely love the colors here as they bleed the sort of dark, retro ambiance that instantly makes me think of the 1986 mad science gore-fest "From Beyond." And while the above image resonates with an aura of occult ritual, the one below ups the ante with that Hewlett Packard 9845B and its glorious monochrome monitor. You just want to bask in its glory.
But what's the story, right?
These shots capture Scripp's Bioluminescent Research Project funded by the Office of Naval Research. The Navy has always been concerned with a submarine's propensity to stir up bioluminescent organisms, leaving a glowing wake behind it. This luminous trail then enabled enemy planes with blue-green photomultiplying optical sensors to locate exactly where subs were positioned.
So the Navy wanted to know how to eliminate that glow through the use of chemicals. Or, failing that, they hoped to learn how to avoid the snitch organisms responsible.
The submarine/bioluminesence issue goes back a while. In fact, bioluminescence that gave away the position of the last German U-boat sunk during World War I in 1918. And guess what? The Navy's still interested. As recently as 2008, they requested research proposals for bioluminesence monitoring systems aimed at identifying ad tracking vessels.