When Paul Flaherty goes to work, he climbs into a four-engine WP-3D Orion turboprop plane and heads directly into the eye of a hurricane. Miles below, Hazel Barton's job in microbiology takes her to the depths of the world's most treacherous caves. And on the other side of the topsoil, way, way above the forest floor, Stephen Sillett passes his days (and sometimes his nights) in the canopies of the tallest trees on earth.
Welcome to the work--and worlds--of extreme scientists. From hurricanes to caves to the crowns of towering redwoods, these scientists battle some of the earth's most intense conditions in order to save lives, preserve species, and help us to better understand the way our planet works.
This handsome volume from the Scientists in the Field series profiles three scientists working far out in the field. Hurricane hunter Paul Flaherty doesn't just track a storm from his office; he flies into its eye to observe it and to collect readings that can't be obtained from the ground. Hazel Barton, a microbiologist specializing in single-cell organisms living in extreme conditions, finds them by going wherever she must, scuba diving through underwater passageways and rappelling into glacial crevasses and deep underground caves. Ecologist and college professor Steve Sillett, who scaled and measured the world's tallest living tree (379.1 feet), climbs into the canopies to study redwoods. While the clearly written text includes vivid passages about the dangers these scientists face, it goes on to discuss what drives them to pursue their subjects and what they have discovered along the way. Each of the three sections concludes with an interview. The many excellent color photos portray these adventurers as scientists intently focused on their work, though sometimes in unusual or unusually beautiful surroundings. Appendixes include a glossary for each section, source notes, and lists of recommended books, DVDs, and Web sites.