Engineer Doug Webb and WHOI physical oceanographer Dave Fratantoni examine the motor inside an ocean glider in Fratantoni's lab in February 2008. Webb, a former WHOI employee who formed his own company in the 1980s, has spent three decades trying to turn a science fiction vision of ocean studies into a modern reality. Working for many years with oceanographer Henry Stommel and, more recently, Fratantoni, Webb and his team designed a gliding, autonomous vehicle that extracts energy from the differences in ocean temperature from the surface to the depths. This winter, Fratantoni and colleagues successfully sailed that "thermal" glider back and forth across the Caribbean dozens of times.
(Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)