Chicago has no sea

  In 1954, biologist FA Brown dug a batch of oysters from the coast of Connecticut and put them into an aquarium in a basement in Chicago thousands of miles away. He is a biorhythm researcher and knows that oysters live with the rise and fall of the tide.
  Nothing changed during the first two weeks of moving into the new house. Oysters still live their lives according to their normal rules: sometimes they retract and sometimes open their shells, catching plankton in the sea to feed themselves, all following the rhythm of the ebb and flow of the remote Connecticut coast.
  But in the next two weeks, something unexplainable happened. They still undulate like tides, but their behavior at high tide no longer matches the Connecticut tide. It’s not Florida, it’s not California, it’s not Dover, it doesn’t fit any tide table known to science.
  After repeated calculations, Brown realized one thing: This is the high tide time in Chicago.
  But Chicago has no sea.
  These oysters live in reinforced concrete basements and in artificial seawater in glass boxes. But they know the existence of the sea, and their ancestors have lived by the sea for hundreds of millions of years; they can leave the sea, but the sea will not leave them. Brown guessed that perhaps the oyster sensed the change in air pressure, and derived from it the timing of the tide and the rhythm it should have. No oyster is doing all this consciously-but in a deep sense, they are imagining such a sea, a sea that does not exist in any corner of the earth, imagining the ebb and flow there. Fall, and they will open and close with the rhythm of the sea.
  There is no sea in Chicago, but oysters bring sea.

Share