It is a long, narrow journey through total darkness. Inside a thick hull submersible, Anne Dekas and two colleagues are stuck in a space barely larger than the front seat of a car. After the first 200 yards, sunlight can no longer penetrate the ocean, though lightning bolts from bioluminescent sea creatures provide a welcome respite from the Ink Abyss.
An hour-long descent ends with a landing on the ocean floor, where few humans have ever been. Finally, the lights of the submersible, nicknamed Alvin, come on silently, illuminating an alien landscape. “You see this barren landscape stretching out in front of you, and you really feel like you’re on another planet,” said Dekas, assistant professor of Earth System Science at Stanford. School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences (Stanford Land).
The young me of Dekas would have appreciated this moment. As a child, she had longed to visit other planets and seek alien life. While Dekas was going to college, she …
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