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ENG Prof Named a Pioneer of Underwater Acoustics

ENG’s William Carey is a 2007 Pioneer of Underwater Acoustics silver medalist.

William Carey, a professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering, is one of just 17 people to be named a Pioneer of Underwater Acoustics by the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) since the award was created in 1959. He was recognized for his research into ocean noise and the development of underwater microphones.

For the first project, Carey researched nonsynthetic producers of oceanic background noise. Several years ago, he found that tiny bubbles in the ocean are too dirty to combine with one another and rise to the surface. Researchers then discovered that these microbubbles can radiate low-frequency sound, as Carey had posited.

“That was my supposition, and people eventually believed it was true,” he says. “Sometimes research is asking the right questions and then showing that the question can be answered.”

The ASA also recognized Carey for recent research dealing with the development of small arrays to create hydrophones, or underwater microphones. These devices act as antennae to transmit sound, so that divers can communicate with one another without the surrounding liquid muffling the sound.

The ASA silver-medal award is presented to people who make outstanding contributions to the science of underwater acoustics. “This is the most significant award I’ve received,” Carey says, especially since the award is voted on by his peers in the society, whose members are from all over the world.

Carey will formally accept the award for his work at the ASA fall meeting in New Orleans.

Rebecca McNamara can be reached at ramc@bu.edu.