Extreme Biology

By Goff, Karen Goldberg | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 1, 2001 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Extreme Biology

Goff, Karen Goldberg, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)

The hardest-to-find microbes might yield big clues in the battle to fight infection and disease.

That is why microbiologist Hazel Barton is rappelling down a 300-foot cliff in the Arizona desert, shivering in an ice cave on Greenland and scuba diving through underwater caves in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

Ms. Barton is one of the stars of "Journey Into Amazing Caves," an Imax movie that opened recently at the Johnson Imax Theater at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.

In the movie, Ms. Barton, along with fellow caver Nancy Aulenbach, combines her vocation, science, with her avocation, caving, in a beautifully shot adventure on three continents.

"This was a very technically difficult movie," says Ms. Aulenbach, a teacher in Norcross, Ga. "We were going into places that were unknown."

Once in the unexplored caves, Ms. Aulenbach, 29, used her caving experience to survey the area so she eventually could make a map for other cavers. Ms. Barton, also 29, captured soil, water and ice samples to study extremophiles - organisms that live in extremely hostile conditions.

"Extremophiles have vast scientific potential," says Ms. Barton, who is primarily a tuberculosis re-searcher at the University of Colorado at Boulder. "Trying to find unique organisms could hold the key to antibiotic research. The problem with today's antibiotics is that 90 percent of them are from organisms that are so similar to everything else. Now we have drug-resistant TB, and superbugs are going to be a reality."

By obtaining samples of life in the 112-degree Arizona desert, inside a solid wall of ice or from an underwater cave with virtually no light, scientists can see how microorganisms have adapted to survive, she says.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Extreme Biology


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?