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Diving Into The Light

Three thousand feet below the ocean's surface, Harbor Branch scientist Dr. Edith Widder is exploring a phenomenon that may hold the key to the secrets of genetic engineering--and a cure for some of te diseases that plague us.

Dr. Edith Widder still remembers the first time she saw the light. It was on a sunny afternoon in July 1984, and she was making her first deep dive in the ocean, part of her post-doctoral studies at the Santa Barbara campus of the University of California.

“I was in a device called a Wasp,” she recalls. “It was a cross between a diving suit and a personal submarine, with huge cumbersome arms and thrusters controlled by foot switches. It was like being in a Michelin man suit, except that you also had to contend with the water pressure.

“The arms were so stiff I could barely move them, even though I had been lifting weights for a year in preparation for this moment. And the water was so cold, my teeth were chattering.”

Read the entire article in the September 2000 issue