James L. Cairns, author of The Inventor's Pathfinder, has been a lifelong inventor, finally devoting full time to it in the late 1970s. His most important inventions have been inspired by his early career as a sea-going oceanographer and scientific diver. His background is in physics. In 1974 he received a PhD in Marine Physics at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, The University of California at San Diego.
Most of Cairns' inventions have been components for connecting electrical and fiber-optical communication systems underwater. He has introduced nearly all of the successful technology in that relatively new field. His products have greatly increased the flexibility of subsea-systems, allowing components of complex networks to be added or removed at the sea floor. One of the results has been a remarkable expansion of the global area available for offshore oil and gas production, something that has indirectly benefited us all.
Many of today's major offshore programs in oceanographic research, homeland security, and subsea communications would not be possible without the technology he pioneered. He's still at it.