If I Could Talk to the Animals….

10 May
Remember the NBC television show SeaQuest DSV? (That’s Deep Submergence Vehicle, if your memory’s a bit foggy.)  Back in the nineties, this sci-fi show had a brief spell, thanks to the success of Quantum Leap.  SeaQuest, along with Earth 2, was full of hard science and relational drama.  Unfortunately, both of these shows ended poorly with no real closure whatsoever.  Anyways, in SeaQuest, Captain Bridger befriended a Dolphin that they named Darwin.  He is treated as another member of the crew, as the dolphin was able to communicate to the crew through the assistance of a ‘vo-corder’.  I never figured out how it worked, but it was some future device that made the dolphin speak English via a robotic voice.

"Y halo thar!" (via Wikipedia)

Now, scientists are working on a ‘reverse vo-corder’, which a diver can use to communicate with dolphins in their own tongue.  The program will be able to broadcast a selected phrase from human language as dolphin-ese via an underwater pimped out speaker.  This device is called the ‘Cetacean Hearing and Telemetry (CHAT)’.  Clever.  According to Popular Science, “Ultimately, the goal is to serve as a sort of Rosetta stone for dolphins, deciphering the fundamental units of dolphin language.”
Is this step one in SeaQuest?  Who knows.  I do think that dolphins are about as smart as Douglas Adams made them out to be, so hopefully someday we’ll finally figure out what it is that they are actually saying.  Let’s just hope it’s not “So long and thanks for all the fish”.

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