Virtual Event: Helen Scales
The Brilliant Abyss:
Exploring the Majestic Hidden Life of the Deep Ocean,
and the Looming Threat That Imperils It
in conversation with KRISTINA GJERDE
December 1, 2021
5:00 PM ET
Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.
Free - $5 contribution suggested at registration
Harvard Book Store, the Harvard University Division of Science, and the Harvard Library welcome marine biologist HELEN SCALES—author of Spirals in Time: The Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells—for a discussion of her latest book, The Brilliant Abyss: Exploring the Majestic Hidden Life of the Deep Ocean, and the Looming Threat That Imperils It. She will be joined in conversation by KRISTINA GJERDE, Senior High Seas Advisor to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Global Marine and Polar Programme.
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While payment is not required, we are suggesting a $5 contribution to support this author series, our staff, and the future of Harvard Book Store—a locally owned, independently run Cambridge institution. In addition, by purchasing a copy of The Brilliant Abyss on harvard.com, you support indie bookselling and the writing community during this difficult time.
About The Brilliant Abyss
“The oceans have always shaped human lives,” writes marine biologist Helen Scales in her vibrant new book The Brilliant Abyss, but the surface and the very edges have so far mattered the most. “However, one way or another, the future ocean is the deep ocean.”
A golden era of deep-sea discovery is underway. Revolutionary studies in the deep are rewriting the very notion of life on Earth and the rules of what is possible. In the process, the abyss is being revealed as perhaps the most amazing part of our planet, with a topography even more varied and extreme than its Earthbound counterpart. Teeming with unsuspected life, an extraordinary interconnected ecosystem deep below the waves has a huge effect on our daily lives, influencing climate and weather systems, with the potential for much more—good or bad depending on how it is exploited. Currently the fantastic creatures that live in the deep—many of them incandescent in a world without light—and its formations capture and trap vast quantities of carbon that would otherwise poison our atmosphere; and novel bacteria as yet undiscovered hold the promise of potent new medicines. Yet the deep also holds huge mineral riches lusted after by many nations and corporations; mining them could ultimately devastate the planet, compounded by the deepening impacts of ubiquitous pollutants and rampant overfishing.
Eloquently and passionately, Helen Scales brings to life the majesty and mystery of an alien realm that nonetheless sustains us, while urgently making clear the price we could pay if it is further disrupted. The Brilliant Abyss is at once a revelation and a clarion call to preserve this vast unseen world.
Praise for The Brilliant Abyss
“Helen Scales offers up an abundance of wondrous revelation and wise warnings in this mesmerizing consideration of the vibrant world of darkness under the sea. This is essential, unforgettable reading about our marvelous blue planet.” —Aimee Nezhukumatathil, bestselling author of World of Wonders
“Helen Scales is one of those rare scientists who can capture the excitement of science. The Brilliant Abyss has a thrill on every page as she explores the deep and little-known ocean. But this comes with a warning. Man’s destruction is now reaching the remotest corners of the planet and our survival depends on stopping it.” —Mark Kurlansky, bestselling author of Salmon: A Fish, the Earth, and the History of Their Common Fate and The Unreasonable Virtue of Fly Fishing
“Mind-blowing! From vampire squids to translucent octopuses, from marine snow to sea butterflies, from Yeti crabs who farm their microbial meals on their own hairy claws, to snails who build shells of iron in hydrothermal vents, Helen Scales blitzes us again and again with the deep sea’s staggering strangeness and arresting beauty. Studded with wonder on every page, The Brilliant Abyss is proof that, even as we consume and ruin our beautiful Earth in our greed, we hardly know our planet AT ALL! At this critical point in human history, Scales’s eloquent reporting underscores the urgency with which we must focus on saving the deep sea if our planet is to survive.” —Sy Montgomery, author of the national bestseller The Soul of an Octopus
The Harvard Science Book Talks series is a collaboration between the Harvard University Division of Science, the Harvard Library, and Harvard Book Store. The series features talks by the authors of recently published books on a variety of science-related topics and is open to both the Harvard community and to the general public. Typically, lectures are followed by a book signing with the author and refreshments. Learn more and watch recordings of past talks here.
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