If I Were Obama: Four Things I'd Have Done Differently After Hearing About BP's Oil Spill

If I were Obama--I would have taken a different approach after hearing about the BP Oil Spill.


1. I would have removed BP from being in charge of this operation and have them serve as consultants. The fundamental problem is that BP has been low-balling all of the estimates because they are fined at a rate of $1000.00 per barrel.

2. Call in the United States Navy. It turns out that already the Coast Guard and National Guard are being mobilized in dribbles but it doesn’t seem to be enough. Perhaps President Barack Obama should have called the Navy as soon as the sheer magnitude of the leak was revealed. After all, this is what Mikhail Gorbachev did back in 1986 when we had the raging reactor at Chernobyl just outside Kiev. He called in the Red Air Force and it was them who actually brought the tragic event under control. In fact, it was also the Red Air Force that eventually hit the reactor with borated water and concrete to seal it in a sarcophagus. These are the things that you can do when you control the military and this is what President Obama should have done from the start. People that are working to contain and cleanup the oil spill effort are working 24/7 and are both overwhelmed and tired and are in desperate need of reinforcements.

3. Bring in physicists from around the world who understand high pressure. The pressures are much higher down there (about 2,000 pounds per square inch) and even the capping method had to be modified specifically to operate at those depths. What eventually and partially worked was the injection of hot water which would then dissolve and melt some of the methane gas which was in solid form and clogging the riser pipe. So in other words, by trial and error; the scientists at BP are beginning to realize what a physicist could have told them from the very beginning.

4. Bring in the cavalry. Bring in empty oil tankers and get as many ships as you can with pumps, filters and skimmers in order to begin the clean-up operation. Instead of getting bogged down in red tape, President Obama should have cut through all of the bureaucracy much sooner and brought ships from around the world to start hauling in all this excess oil. Realize that the partial capping operation yields about 25,000 barrels per day. This is still 50% below the leak rate—we think. This amount alone is overwhelming the tankers because so much more oil is coming out than originally anticipated. Come August, everyone is hoping for two relief wells to go online. Relief wells are common; they're somewhat of a gold standard and have been proven time and time again to have an approximately 95 percent chance of working. The difficult part is trying to hit the right spot when drilling.  We're sending an arrow, 3-mile long drill deep into the ocean and trying to hit anobject the size of a dinner plate. The problem is that if you "miss" it the first time--you must back out the drill, fill the hole you've made with concrete and start the process over again—which could take weeks or months.

I was also featured on Good Morning America this morning speaking about the Oil Spill: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/bp-oil-leak-theoretical-physicist-michio-kaku-optimistic-11168751 and also CNN http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2010/07/15/am.seg.oil.cap.kaku.cnn?iref=allsearch

So in other words. The agony could extend to weeks or months... or even years. I suppose that we can only hope that there aren't any additional failed attempts to stop this massive leak or create more in the process.

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

Videos
  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.

Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)
popular

In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.


Image from the study.

As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

Image by authors of the study.

Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Do human beings have a magnetic sense? Biologists know other animals do. They think it helps creatures including bees, turtles and birds navigate through the world.

Keep reading Show less