"Hostile Deep," a new feature of the Discovery Channel's Science Channel on digital cable television, will feature the deep-sea research of Charles Fisher, professor of biology at Penn State. The program will premier at 8:00 p.m. on 3 February 2003 and will be rebroadcast on 8 February.
The "Hostile Deep" feature takes viewers into the ocean depths to investigate, first hand, the latest in deep-sea science. For centuries the ocean bottom was thought to be a barren desert, devoid of all life. But in recent decades, deep-sea technology has enabled marine scientists to explore the extreme deep, where they've made surprising finds in and around methane-vent sites on the ocean floor. Unique life forms thrive in these hostile and toxic environments, leading researchers to speculate that these prodigious deep-sea microbes may be the genesis of life on earth, and possible on other planets.
Fisher is an intrepid explorer whose research interests include the ecology of the strange life-forms at the bottom of the sea along the geologically dynamic mid-ocean ridges, including the wide range of inter-species and chemical processes on which their life depends. In the past 20 years, he has made 101 deep-sea dives in research submersibles, has spent another 54 days at sea working with deep-diving remotely operated vehicles, and has participated in 48 cruises--serving as chief scientists on 21 of them.
Among his thrilling discoveries is a new species of centipede-like worms thriving on and within mounds of methane ice 1,800 feet deep on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. Fisher has investigated how these animals live without sunlight, without an obvious food source, and under extremely high pressures and low temperatures. His surprising discoveries include this and other new ocean-floor species that thrive in the most extreme environments where life has been found on Earth.
For more information about the "Hostile Deep" feature, check the local listings of your cable service and the web site of the Science Discovery channel at <http://science.discovery.com>.