Tag: research

The $7 Million Competition To Map The Ocean Floor Begins

The ocean floor has maintained its mysteries for millennia. Even though humans may know a lot about the Earth, space, and external planets, the water that composes most of our planet has eluded our knowledge base. There’s no better way than a friendly competition with a million dollar reward to encourage public interest in the sciences, technological advancements, and curiosity about our oceans.

Compared to the detailed maps displaying the surface of the Earth, ocean maps are in sore need of an update. Teams of students and professional researchers around the world have eagerly developed UAVs and underwater drones to accomplish the mission.

Hidden Beneath The Surface

Regarding the earth’s oceans and marine life, there is still so much that humans can learn. The XPRIZE Foundation was created to stimulate people to become innovative, explore ideas, and help the progression of technology and society. After much anticipation since 2015, the finalists and location for the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE Foundation competition have been announced.

Eight teams will be competing with one another in an effort to map out the seafloor off of the coast of Kalamata, Greece. The competition injects a new energy into research of the world’s oceans. So much about what humans know regarding the sites of archaeological finds, forms of marine life, and specific geological features are murky.

Race To Capture The Map

The technology that each of the eight teams will use during the competition will be rigorously tested. The desire to push the boundaries of science and technology is intense, as each team will only have 24 hours to complete their goal. A minimum of 100 square miles of ocean floor will have to be successfully canvassed, up to a depth of 13,000 feet.

Unmanned autonomous vessels that are capable of traveling undersea and capturing high-resolution images are a must. If a team is to beat the clock and emerge the victor, they will need reliable technology that can create a map that identifies a minimum of ten specific features. Bragging rights and a four-million-dollar prize will be awarded to the winning team, while second place will be rewarded with one million dollars.

Uncharted Territory No More

The world’s oceans hold a vast amount of untapped resources and information. Emerging technology that can help better chart and study the oceans will be useful for climate change, industry, and preserving life on the planet. Surprisingly, only five percent of the world’s oceans have been fully explored, and understanding the sensitivity of the ocean to incoming cosmic rays would be beneficial.

The continuation of modern human society is dependent on maintaining healthy oceans, monitoring marine life cycles, and reducing greenhouse gasses. Recovery of ancient human artifacts, and reviewing the changing terrain of the oceans at levels where sunlight is non-existent is critical to human advancement. The secrets to life itself, medical advancements, and understanding the severity of human impact on the oceans may be furthered via this competition.

Research Shows Being Near The Ocean Does Amazing Things For Your Brain

People love the ocean. It’s no wonder, with so many travelers choosing vacation destinations along the beach. However, have you ever wondered why exactly being near the ocean, or other bodies of water, makes us feel so good?

Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist and author, has researched several beneficial effects the ocean has on the brain and body. From exercising more efficiently to achieving a zen-like state, here are a few reasons why people can’t get enough of the ocean.

Boost The Body And The Mind

Yes, exercising near the ocean can do wonders for your workout. Not only is jogging along the beach a killer exercise but being outside near water gives your mind a mental boost while working out. This is because your body is responding to natural stimuli rather than working out in a crowded gym or jogging along a busy city street.

Even just gazing at the blue color of the ocean will make your brain associate more positively with working out. This is because the color blue helps to calm nerves.

“Increased views of blue space is significantly associated with lower levels of psychological distress,” said Amber Pearson, an assistant professor of health geography at Michigan State University. Pearson co-authored a study released in 2016 which outlined how views of the ocean were associated with better mental health.

The Water And Well-Being

“Research has shown that being near, in, on or under water can provide a long list of benefits for our mind and body, including lowering stress and anxiety, increasing an overall sense of well-being and happiness, a lower heart and breathing rate, and safe, better workouts,” said Nichols.

What’s more impressive is that aquatic therapists are looking into how oceans and other bodies of water can help people manage disorders such as PTSD, addiction, anxiety, autism, and more.

Another major benefit of the ocean on the brain is the ocean’s rich amount of negative ions. Research has shown that positive ions are emitted by electrical items such as computers, microwaves, and more. These positive ions can have a draining effect. The negative ions emitted by ocean waves and waterfalls actually help reverse the damage of positive ions. The negative ions help us absorb oxygen better and balance serotonin levels. Serotonin balance is extremely important, as this is the neurotransmitter in our brain which contributes to well-being and happiness.

Seaside Serenity

Bodies of water also put people in a meditative, zen-like state. While this can do amazing things for emotional stress, being in a meditative state can also benefit the body by reducing inflammation and strengthening the immune system.

The ocean’s sounds and visuals give people a break from constant overstimulation, making them more mindful in the process.

“The sound around us, from an auditory perspective, is simplified. It’s not quiet, but the sound of water is far more simple than the sound of voices or the sound of music or the sound of a city,” Nichols said. “And the visual input is simplified. When you stand at the edge of the water and look out on the horizon, it’s visually simplified relative to the room you’re sitting in right now, or a city you’re walking through, where you’re taking in millions of pieces of information every second.”