“Alexa, Turn On the Jellyfish”

Cyborg Jellyfish Could One Day Explore the Ocean

You know what’s rad? G-D cyborgs. Darth Vader is a cyborg and arguably a better villain AND hero than any character in the most recent Star Wars trilogy. Robocop is a cyborg. Janelle Monáe is a cyborg, guys (ok, she’s an android – but she’s in the Wikipedia article for cyborgs so let’s let it slide). Truly, they are the best among us. So, of course, researchers want to harness their great power for good to explore the oceans.

These scientists at CalTech and Stanford, who are working hard to earn their ‘mad’ prefixes, attached a small device to the undersides of moon jellies with, I kid you not, wooden pins. Electrodes stimulated the muscles of the jellies’ bells with regular electric pulses causing the brainless little guys to swim almost 3x faster than their normal, meandering pace. Which is still pretty damn slow, let’s be clear, but speed isn’t the point – the point is that jellyfish are everywhere. Jellies abound in all the world’s oceans and from surface waters to the deep sea. By speeding the jellies up (maybe adding some steering, too) and attaching miniaturized data collectors, the researchers hope to create a small army of squishy, swimming scientific instruments.

That would be a huge win for ocean science. Up to this point, the field has been dominated by large, expensive, and relatively immobile data collection platforms – think big ships, deep sea subs like Alvin, or remote data buoys. Though extensive, the net cast by these systems is not even close to all-encompassing, especially when it comes to the deep sea or far-off corners of the ocean like Point Nemo. Even sail-drones or autonomous underwater vehicles don’t come close (but they do come with a significant price tag). Getting as much information as possible on changing temperature, salinity, oxygen, phytoplankton abundance, and everything else in the ocean is crucial to addressing the ongoing climate crisis and the jelly-borgs might just be the best way to acquire that info. And because I know you’ve been wondering, no, it doesn’t hurt them. They show no signs of a stress response and suffer no ill effects when the devices are removed. So rest easy, or as easy as you can knowing the jelly-borg revolution is surely on its way. Somebody make note of what date we need to send the Terminator back to in order to stop all this in the future.

Johnny Venger wants the Resistance fighters reading this in 2079 to know that he saw the danger and raised the alarm.

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