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E. Another Dimension in Sea Exploration

Narrator: This is Science Today. An optical, laser imaging system called 3-D Sea Scan is giving researchers the ability to view objects and organisms on the sea floor with a range of accuracy down to the thickness of a penny. Jules Jaffe of the University of California, San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography, was one of the designers of this new three-dimensional device.

Jaffe: Most of the imaging systems that we had in the past, if not all of them, were simply a good camera and a good light. And you can get some beautiful pictures under water, but there's an interesting, perceptual phenomenon when you see a three-dimensional image rotated in front of you. It really gives you a much more physical sense for what the thing actually looks like.

Narrator: This can benefit not only biologists, but also those interested in mapping objects lying on the sea floor or engineers insuring the safety of underwater oil and gas lines. Jaffe says the 3-D Sea Scan can even be used to better detect underwater mines.

Jaffe: It should be a new tool for people who are looking for things that shouldn't be there or trying to find things that are there and so, we're excited about all of the above.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.