Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
Horizons Lecture

The Oceans’ cryptic but beautiful life

Marine life in our oceans can be microscopic and invisible to the human eye. In his lecture, Thomas Kiørboe will let us see the beautiful variety of this invisible life.


Main content

The lecture (held in English)

Marine life unfolds beneath the surface of the ocean, and the life forms – plankton - that dominate the biological processes in the ocean are microscopic and invisible to the naked eye. Yet, when visualized, this life demonstrates a large and beautiful variety of morphologies and a fascinating diversity of behaviors. While we believe that these behaviors and morphologies somehow must be tailored to optimize the Darwinian mission that any organism is confronted with, i.e., to eat, survive, and reproduce, this connection is not always obvious. This is partly due to the fact that, at the scale of microscopic organisms, water appears as thick and sticky as syrup, inertia can be ignored, and flow is reversible, and hence their physical world is non-intuitive. In this lecture, Thomas Kiørboe will visualize the oceans' invisible life, explore how their morphologies and behaviors are adapted to optimize their fitness, and demonstrate how trade-offs between resource acquisition and survival generate diversity of plankton communities. The lecture will draw on formal fluid physics but otherwise be light on physics and rich in movies such that everyone should be able to follow and enjoy.

Refreshments will be served before the lecture, which starts at 16.15 pm on Thursday 9 of February in the VilVite centre. Everybody is welcome!

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Thomas Kiørboe

Thomas Kiørboe is recognized world-wide for his original thinking that has led to pioneering contributions in many areas of marine ecology, and leader of the  Centre for Ocean Life, a Centre of Excellence at Technical University of Denmark, Copenhagen. He has contributed nearly 200 research articles mainly about small organisms in the ocean, how they are adapted to life in water and their immense importance to ocean ecosystems and climate. Using high-resolution video cameras he visualizes the spectacular but cryptic organisms present in a drop of sea water.

This lecture is a joint event between the Horizons seminar series of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences and The Darwin Day in Bergen.