2014 Talks


Science Made Public is an annual, summertime series of publicly accessible talks by scientists and engineers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The 2014 series will focus on the submersible Alvin, which recently completed a comprehensive overhaul and upgrade and is celebrating its 50th year of ocean science and exploration.

All talks take place on Tuesdays at 3:00 p.m. in WHOI's Ocean Science Exhibit Center, 15 School Street, Woods Hole.

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July 8 - Alvin gets a Makeover

Megan Carroll, Research Engineer

The Alvin submersible recently went through a major upgrade and is now back exploring the ocean. Some of the major improvements include a new, bigger, more ergonomic personnel sphere, a modified titanium frame, new flotation modules, improved imaging and lighting system, and increased robotic arm maneuverability. Learn about these new systems, and how syntactic foam is used for Alvin’s buoyancy from one of the WHOI engineers who was involved in making these improvements and helped to reassemble the vehicle for operations in 2014.

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July 15 - Two Underwater Vehicles Can Be Better Than One

Kaitlyn Tradd, Engineer

The Alvin sub and the autonomous underwater vehicle Sentry are among the most reliable, successful underwater research tools. To make the most of limited time aboard a ship, scientists and engineers sometimes use the two vehicles together. By night Sentry is launched, programmed to make maps of the seafloor. By day, researchers and sub pilots use those maps to explore target areas with the deep sea submersible Alvin. Learn from a WHOI engineer about a recent Alvin-Sentry cruise to the Gulf of Mexico and the logistics and intricacies of tandem operations.

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July 22 - 50+ Years of Ocean Exploration

Dudley Foster, Alvin Pilot, Retired

NOTE: This lecture will be held in Redfield Auditorium
During the last 50 years, Alvin has made numerous undersea discoveries and been involved in countless observations, sample collections, and deployment and recovery of experiments. During those years Alvin has been upgraded with the latest in computer hardware, imaging systems, and deep sea instrumentation, so it continues to be “state-of-the-art.” Hear from this long-time Alvin pilot about the major milestones in Alvins’ history and some of its adventures between 1972-2006.

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July 29 - Exploring Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vents in Alvin

Jill McDermott, Marine Chemist

The circulation of seawater-derived fluids through seafloor hydrothermal vents releases abundant chemical energy. This discovery has expanded our understanding of the limits and constraints on life in extreme environments. Hear from this MITWHOI Joint Program student about her experience diving in Alvin to investigate a volcanic eruption, and learn how deep-sea research on Earth can inform the search for life, and the compounds that support life, elsewhere in our solar system.

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August 5 - Autonomous Underwater Robots: How They Work

Dana Yoerger, Ocean Engineer

Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) like WHOI's REMUS, Sentry, and SeaBED are important tools used to explore the ocean. They are controlled by on-board computers and powered by internal batteries; they keep track of their own motions and ensure that their sensors are operating properly. Learn about the science and engineering that goes into creating vehicles that can carry out missions with little or no help from people. This talk will will be held in Redfield Auditorium, 45 Street, Woods Hole.

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August 12 - Alvin and the Wet Wi-Fi

Maurice Tivey, Marine Geologist

Sound has traditionally been the communications medium of choice in the ocean, but engineers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution developed an underwater "optical modem" that uses light to transmit information at a much higher rate than is capable with sound and that was recently used by scientists and engineers to collect data from a seafloor borehole observatory. Learn more about this new tool, how it was used, and what the data from a recent Alvin dive on the Juan de Fuca plate showed. This talk will be held in Redfield Auditorium, 45 Water Street, Woods Hole.

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August 19 - Humans in the Deep Ocean, from Imagination to Reality

Bruce Strickrott, Alvin Group Manager

Note:  This talk will start at 2:30pm and will be held in Redfield Auditorium
In 1870, Jules Verne penned his famous novel, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, putting on paper as fiction what many had dreamed about--the ability to visit and explore the unknown depths of the ocean. Since then, Verne's dream of deep ocean exploration has become a reality and has resulted in profound discoveries about the ocean and our planet. Learn about the history of human-occupied submersibles, starting from the early primitive designs and working toward how we operate Alvin today, as well as plans to take Alvin even deeper over coming years. During this presentation, Strickrott will moderate a live phone call to R/V Atlantis and (weather permitting) Alvin. Watch live beginning at 2:30 p.m. Eastern.

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August 26 - Life in an Earthquake Zone

Susan Mills, Marine Biologist

Deep-sea hydrothermal vent sites host dense communities of animals in a food web built on chemical energy from beneath the seafloor. These sites experience frequent disturbances, like volcanic eruptions, that sometimes wipe out entire communities. How does life return to sites after such an event? Learn how a site on the East Pacific Rise was recolonized by distant populations of animals after a 2006 eruption and how its transformation has added to our understanding of how these communities persist in this unstable environment. This talk will be held in Redfield Auditorium, 45 Water Street, Woods Hole.