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marshall swartz

Tinkerer, sailor, real-time data guy

Under the watchful gaze of his dog Little Bear, engineer Marshall Swartz adjusts an instrument in his lab at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). Swartz recently discovered a way to turn ordinary sea cable into a data superhighway capable of relaying massive amounts of data from deep underwater to researchers at the surface.

Swartz and a team of scientists from WHOI are using the new system to help track plumes of oil deep within the Gulf of Mexico. They are deploying instruments, including a current profiler and an underwater mass spectrometer, to determine the composition and movement of oil and other chemicals from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Real-time data from the instruments will reach them via Swartz’s cable.

(Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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