It's official, judging from the email responses I got you really enjoyed "Fluorescence" (even though the subject matter is a little vague). I wasn't even completely sure what I was looking at, I just knew it looked cool on my desktop (and this might on yours).

I wanted to hear what you all thought the image depicted, and I got a ton of responses. Quite a few of you seemed to thing that I was depicting an illegal substance, and I'll have to admit the thought did cross my mind. My first title for the image was, after all, "Food for Thought". At the last moment I decided against pigeonholing the image into such a narrow theme.

As promised, and without further ado, here are a listing of some of the more creative concepts you sent me regarding "Fluorescence". Thanks so much for the wonderful comments! My interpretation is last.

This was favorite:

Actually, it seems "obvious" that it's a Phosphorescing Cyanhydrashroom (PCHS). Found mainly on Phobos (the larger and innermost of Mars' moons) living tenaciously off of that planet's rock/ice composition. (see for more information on Phobos)

While PCHSs are not uncommon on Phobos, they are rare elsewhere in Sol's solar system. Due to the extreme cold needed for their growth and survival they cannot be artificially grown elsewhere and their beauty must be observed on Phobos alone. Some humans find PCHS's light hypnotic and a few have been known to actually smoke them (to no avail).


Some of the more creative suggestions...

I think it looks like a fungal growth, possibly deep in a granite cave. It might look interesting with some stalagtites and stalagmites slightly illuminated in the background. A lot of deep earth algaes have bioluminescence.


It answers the question of what you get when you cross a blacklight, mushrooms, and jelly fish.


My first thought was that it was a bad peyote trip. Then I thought that all you needed was the Cheshire Cat to make it an "Alice in Wonderland" nightmare. I'm sure you've heard both of those many times already.


"Fluorescence" is definitely a picture of a patch of some radioactive fungi.


i think it is a school of jellyfish tight together...


Mushrooms at Chernobyl


It's mushrooms growing near a fold on the ocean floor. I can tell.


I'd like to put those in some tea.


I'll say jellyfish. Or maybe mushrooms. Either way they obviously live too close to San Onofre.


some cute little garden mushrooms that are growing in the middle of a nuclear crisis somewhere


It reminded me of some foreign planet where all the plantlife recieved a glow of energy from the if it were alive.


Those were all wonderful ideas. Especially the one about the life on Phobos.

Here's what I thought:

Astronomers are pretty much in agreement that Europa, one of Jupiter's moons, hides a planet-wide ocean beneath a shifting icy crust. Europa is etnerally heated from within by the gravitational friction from Jupiter and its nearby volcanic neighbor, Io.

The beings in "Fluorescence" are carbon-silicon based lifeforms which normally live within the rocky mantle at the bottom of the Europan sea. Periodically (when Europa, Io and Jupiter are in alignment) the crust heats up and releases all sorts of nutrients into the water. The floor dwellers deploy umbrella like collectors to harvest this bounty. You are looking at one set of these collectors in "Fluorescence". It is all one creature.

Why are they glowing? Simple. A bounty of radioactive isotopes are released during the period heatup and these form the core staple of the floor-dweller's diet. The blue glow is given off as a by-product of the creatures converting random radiation into useful energy. The glow also serves the reproduction of these creatures, but that is another story entirely...

How do I know so much about them? I went there and checked them out for myself using my new deep sea-explorer mini-sub (that I designed this last weekend). Don't believe me. Here's a little movie...([an error occurred while processing this directive] zipped AVI).

last updated 12/01/09

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