The Gulf Oil Spill On Your Desktop

Like most of us, I’ve been watching the latest developments from the Gulf of Mexico with growing alarm.  Like a blight, like a creature bent on destruction, the black slick is growing, moving ever closer to the fragile Gulf coast, threatening every living creature in its path.  The thing about oil spills (and bacteria, and galaxies, and mitochondria, and black holes) is that their scale is just too difficult to visualize. Our failure to really grasp the enormity, the complexity of the thing means that we fail to grasp its impact.

But with this oil spill we have a few, new visualization tools.  And they’re not just in the hands of the experts – they are on our own computers and cell phones.  Just this week, video was released of the actual source of the Gulf oil – spewing out of a broken well, nearly a mile below the ocean’s surface.  Let me say that again.  Video from a mile underwater.  Whoa.  Representative Edward Markey (Chair of the Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming) has posted a live feed of the spill (spill cam) on his web site. In addition to that we have amazing photographs, artfully portraying the scope and scale of the disaster.  NASA satellite images, readily downloadable with a click give you a clear view of the spill – and you can watch it play out over time.  Google Earth has now made NASA’s MODIS imagery available as a downloadable overlay for Google Earth. But to really give you a personal sense of scale – use Google Earth’s “Places of Interest” layer to look at the spill in situ, as it changes over time, and then place it over your own region of the globe.  And here’s a nice one – “ifitwasmyhome“, where you can instantly overlay the spill on a map anywhere.  See how far the slick stretches over landmarks that you know.



Filed under Interesting Science, visualization

2 responses to “The Gulf Oil Spill On Your Desktop

  1. Daniel James

    I am absolutely furious that these people called a bunch of engineers to do a plumbers job and the President should call his good friend Joe the plumber to take care of this. And pay him what he asks for!!!
    This is how it is Done !!!!

    1. Cut the pipe with anything that will give it a clean round cut (eg. a PIPE CUTTER, OR SAW– MANUAL OR ELECTRIC)

    2. Thread the pipe to fit a valve using a die.
    (you can buy one at any hardware store to see what it looks like)

    3. Screw on the valve with it open. (if it is closed or capped in some way you will have a big fight with oil or water preasure)

    4. CLOSE the dam valve.

    Please somebody let these guys know


  2. Innuit

    Don’t you get it ?
    They just don’t want to lock it !
    While keeping it flowing, they keep earning money, and they don’t give a shit for pelicans and oysters.

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