'Life in ice' scientist hopes for power in San Francisco

Bozeman, MT--John Priscu has given presentations about his work in Antarctica under all kinds of conditions. Hes chatted with members of the National Science Board while standing on a glacier. Hes conducted media interviews via satellite from a wind-blown tent in the Antarctic Dry Valleys. And hes lectured, in English, to foreign audiences around the world.

But hes never had to talk with his hands, as he has been asked to do in San Francisco this Saturday (Feb. 17) during the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Meeting organizers, fearful of rolling blackouts in Californias ongoing energy crisis, have asked the scientists to be ready to talk without the help of PowerPoint presentations, slide projectors, overheads or any other device requiring electricity. Presumably that means overhead lights as well. I cant give a talk like this with my hands,Priscu, a professor of ecology at Montana State University-Bozeman, protested about a week before leaving for San Francisco.

Indeed, the AAAS annual meeting is one of the nations largest scientific gatherings. Several hundred journalists attend the week-long affair, more than any other scientific meeting, to cover topics ranging from autoimmune disease in women to the mathematics of Congressional apportionments. Many of the speakers are invited owing to their novel ideas about science.

Priscu was asked to recap two major discoveries of life in the ice during a session on science at the Earths poles. The first discovery came in 1998 when Priscus team reported finding microbes thriving six feet deep in frozen lakes in the Antarctic Dry Valleys.

The second came last year. Priscus team found bacteria in an ice core drilled from deep within the East Antarctic ice sheet above Lake Vostok. The lake is a subglacial body of water the size of Lake Ontario. The microbes were trapped in ice about 11,800 feet below the surface of the ice sheet and

Contact: Annette Trinity-Stevens
Montana State University

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