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While Stephen Hawking frets about the havoc that could be wrought by extraterrestrials (see the excellent take by my friend the SETI astronomer Seth Shostak, quoted here), the exploration of our own aquatic space puts not only hypothetical galactic invaders but real car bomb terrorists in perspective. As the Washington Post's Joel Achenbach puts it:

There have been blowouts since the dawn of the oil drilling industry, but never a blowout like this. This one is the deepest on record, industry officials say. A blowout last August in the Timor Sea had some similarities, but it was in much shallower water. Capping the unsealed well, said Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen, is as tricky as getting the Apollo 13 astronauts home safely in their damaged spaceship.

"We have gone to a different planet in going to the deepwater. An alien environment," oil industry analyst Byron King said. "And what do you know from every science fiction movie? The aliens can kill us.

To read the rest of the article, click here.