31 July 2010

Be Your Own Top Gun with the Maverick Sport Flying Car

This two-seater, push-prop puppy looks like an extended thrill ride waiting to happen. A light weight, high performance dune buggy that can also fly -- using its inflatable wing and intrinsic telescopic mast.
As a car alone, the vehicle’s performance is pretty impressive. Its 140 hp, fuel-injected, 16-valve Subaru EJ22 engine sends it from 0 to 60mph in 3.9 seconds, it has a top speed of 90 mph (145 km/h), and the whole rig weighs less than 1,000 pounds (454 kg).

When it’s time to fly, the Maverick’s central telescopic mast raises and acts as a wing spar for its chute, properly known as a ram-air wing. The flip of a switch diverts engine power from the rear wheels to the rear-mounted five-blade propeller, which propels the car across the ground, up to its take-off speed of 40mph (64km/h). Thanks to its ram-air wing design, the Maverick can take flight in only 300 feet (91 meters).

Once in the air, the vehicle’s electronic fly-by-wire system allows the pilot to steer it with the steering wheel, just like they would on the ground. According to I-TEC, existing sport pilots can learn to fly the Maverick within 12 hours. A dash-mounted Garmin GPS allows for both aerial and ground-based navigation. In flight mode, it has a maximum payload of 330 pounds (150 kg). _Gizmag

Mounting pontoons to the basic unit should be a snap, providing airboat capabilities using the push-prop. Water takeoffs and landings should be within reach, once you tweak the aerodynamics and weight balance of your flotation.

Watch the video, and then tell me you're not in love. I like this inflatable wing flying car better than the Parajet.

Available within a year, price unknown. Designed and built by missionaries. ;-) Really.


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30 July 2010

The World's Biggest Manmade Oil Spill By Far

Take a good look at the graph above. It shows average annual oil spills into the ocean in thousands of metric tonnes. Nature spills more oil than man, but of all manmade oil spills, the greatest by far is the oil that leaks onto the highway or is intentionally poured out, which is carried downstream by rainfall, down to the sea. Consumption spills and leaks amount to almost 500,000 metric tonnes a year, which is about 3.5 million barrels a year, or roughly 150 million gallons a year of oil.
You can see that the 1979 Ixtoc 1 spill off the Mexican coast into the Gulf of Mexico spilled roughly the same amount of oil over 10 months as humans spill from ordinary activities every single year, 3.5 million barrels or about 150 million gallons. (The black bar indicates Al Fin's estimate for total net spillage from Macondo and was added to the graph's original blue -- initially compiled early in the history of the spill)

The BP TransOceanic oil spill, according to Al Fin's best estimates, spilled very close to 80 million gallons of oil (or about 2 million barrels) -- which places it around number 2 on the Gulf of Mexico list and close to 7 on the all time discrete human oil spill list. This number assumes that the spill rate was roughly 25,000 barrels per day until around the first of June, when manipulation of the riser and BOP caused the flow rate to increase to roughly 35,000 barrels per day. It also subtracts from the total any oil recovered by the LMRP cap and the "top kill manifold." The 80 million gallon number is probably still too high, given the high volatility of much of the hydrocarbon spillage -- which evaporated almost immediately into the warm air of the Gulf.

Update 3August10: The New York Times reports that "federal scientists" are reporting that the Macondo spill released 4.9 million barrels of oil, with 800,000 recovered by BP. This new figure represents an incredible windfall for government revenues, since the federal government stands to recover almost $20 billion in fines ($4,300 per barrel) plus royalties for every barrel recovered -- even if BP burned the recovered oil. "Federal scientists" must have had a lot on their minds when choosing between the vast range of flow estimates available. Now with an officially sanctioned number to quote, everyone can finally "know" the true spill quantity, right? Not exactly. There is no way the "federal scientists" can prove their number -- but they don't have to, they're the government.

The estimates of Al Fin engineers remain the same.

This chart comes from a NASA website. It is measured in millions of gallons per year, per source. NASA puts consumption spills well above natural seeps -- which is not consistent with much other oceanographic research. But it is clear that consumption spills should be considered the largest source of manmade oil spillage.

This chart from the UN places ordinary human consumption spills far above natural seeps. Offshore drilling and refinery accidents are just tiny purple and lavender slivers of the pie. This chart minimises the contribution of natural seeps, but the UN environmental organisations are controlled by the huge environmental lobbies, which often find it difficult to admit that mother nature can cause problems all on her own.
In reality, natural seeps have been occurring for over a billion years -- as long as there has been oil. Oil has probably been leaking since before life evolved, and if not oil, then at least gas. Abiotic gas is a fact of life -- present in large quantities on other planets and in interstellar space. Terrestrial abiotic oil is likely in short chain form, but is still controversial in longer chain hydrocarbons.


So nature has been primed by billions of years of natural hydrocarbon spillage. Bacteria evolved to feed on hydrocarbons. Such bacteria are present in and around every oil and gas deposit on earth. Each type of bacterium specialises in a particular hydrocarbon chain length, and they operate together as an assembly line. Munching and crunching their way down the hydrocarbon chain until all that is left is CO2 and H2.
So if you want to locate the biggest manmade oil spill by far, look around your neighborhood, your home town, your county, province, state. You sir, you madame, you are the leakers, if your car is leaking oil, or if you dump used oil to dispose of it.

With that in mind, consider how displaced was all the media, government, and faux environmental hysteria over the Deepwater Horizon / Macondo oil spill. But then, that is how the media sells advertising, how government grabs ever more power, and how the faux environmentalists deceive gullible contributors into supporting their multi-billion dollar industry.

Has Oil Spill Damage Been Exaggerated?... Time Mag

Oil Spill Damage May Have Been Exaggerated... Telegraph

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29 July 2010

Information Overload: Visual Images Make Data Coherent


The brain evolved as best it could, but it is quite limited all the same. We are stepping into a world of terrahertz computer chips, equipped with brains capable of handling only 40 bits a second. Clearly, we must cheat somehow, to stay ahead of the tsunami of data that our machines are excreting over us.
Hard Ass Science
Visual images can bring a lot of data together, in a way that brains can make some sense of it. Images of changes over time can be helpful in trying to understand how a formerly trusted institution -- such as science -- has been corrupted by polemics and political activism.
The image above demonstrates a connectivity network -- in this case, the network connected by ClimateGate emails released from the University of East Anglia CRU's backup server. Is authoritarian science of this type a conspiracy? Take a good look at the enlarged graphic and tell me what the word "conspiracy" means anymore.
Soot Over Tibet

When a science -- such as climate science -- becomes fixated upon a central hypothesis, it can sometimes lose its bearings and sense of perspective. By focusing upon CO2 as an agent of climate change, the inner circle of climatologists appears to have overlooked what may be a far greater agent of change -- black soot. Such activist science appears to have led a lot of people on a wild goose chase of wasted time and resources.
Make An Atom

This image comes from an amazing site that allows visitors to build their own atoms, particle by particle. Expect ever more incredible visual (and fully multi-media) simulations as time goes on.
Greenhouse Effect on the Moon

For some reason, understanding the phases of the moon can be difficult for many people. Images such as that above can compress time to allow picturing of an entire cyclic phenomenon. Many important cycles are far more complex than lunar phases, and visual images can be crucial in their understaning.

Images serve a similar purpose in the visual realm as narratives and stories serve in the auditory and verbal realm. In fact, visualisations can portray important aspects of a narrative which can be almost impossible to convey verbally.

Just as with narratives, visual images can be used to clarify or to confuse and mislead. Some of the cleverest narratives and images are in fact used to obscure and mislead. Political consultants and advertising talent are paid a lot of money to create misleading and obscuring narratives and images -- blatant lies which make sense to masses of people and cause them to think and act in a certain way.

How to Lie With Statistics has been a popular book for well over 50 years. But it is likely that Darell Huff never imagined the incredible power of computer generated visualisations and animations, which can take the idea of lying with statistics to a new level.

We have our brains, and we are learning a lot of things about how our brains work. But we also need to understand the many ways that our brains can be tricked and misled. Otherwise we will be perpetually adrift on the flow of someone else's river of lies.

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27 July 2010

Unfalsifiable Intellectuals and the Rise of Cargo Cult Science

...among people in mentally demanding occupations, the fault line between those most likely to be considered intellectuals and those who are not tends to run between those whose ideas are ultimately subject to internal criteria and those whose ideas are ultimately subject to external criteria. _Sowell_Intellectuals and Society
Intellectuals do not like to be judged or called to account. Because most of their ideas cannot be tested -- or falsified -- by the real world, they see themselves as being above mere scientists, engineers, builders, merchants, accountants, crafstmen, and labourers.
[The intellectual] sees himself as a leader and a master. Not only does he doubt that the masses could do anything worth while on their own, but he would resent it if they made the attempt. The masses must obey. _Eric Hoffer The Ordeal of Change _The Intellectual and the Masses
In other words, intellectuals see themselves as above judgment by the mundane real world, or by anyone other than their own kind. They generally take care to avoid situations where they would become vulnerable to the judgment of the outside world.
Science is different, being traditionally under the discipline of repeatability and falsifiability. Genuine science goes out of its way to demonstrate an impartiality, and a fairness to competing hypotheses. But we are seeing the corruption of modern science by the "intellectual ethic", a degradation of science by the closed polemics of a clique mentality. Nobel Prize physicist Richard Feynman referred to such perversion of science as "cargo cult science."
… there is one feature I notice that is generally missing in cargo cult science. … It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty — a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid — not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked — to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.

Compare Feynman’s scientific integrity with the continual attempts by the leaders of climate “science” to prevent skeptics from checking their data. True scientists would be extremely pleased to provide all raw data, and they would make the data available to all on the Internet. A state attorney general would not have to file suit to make them disgorge. _Frank J. Tipler, mathematical physicist

Tipler singles out climate science as an example of "cargo cult science", but any science can be corrupted by the desire to be unfettered by the discipline of verifiability.

When scientists -- individually or as a group -- try to break free of the necessary restrictions inherent in honest science, they become very much like intellectuals, or like the pompous priesthood of an earlier age.

Intellectuals grew to become a "secular priesthood", beyond the judgment of the common man, by default.
With the decline of clerical power in the eighteenth century, a new kind of mentor emerged to fill the vacuum and capture the ear of society. The secular intellectual might be deist, sceptic, or atheist. But he was just as ready as any pontiff or presbyter to tell mankind how to conduct his affairs. _Johnson_Intellectuals

For a good example of the lack of integrity among intellectuals, I recommend this glimpse into the JournoList scrum.

For an example of how science can allow itself to degenerate to the level of the basest of intellectuals, study this analysis of ClimateGate well.

Honesty is a rare commodity among modern intellectuals, because honesty does not serve "the cause" to which most intellectuals are devoted. But never has honesty been more important to the average voter and taxpayer, who must now decide the best way to extricate himself, his family, and his community from the catastrophic effects of the implementation of the policies of today's intellectuals.

Why should we expect the policies of modern intellectuals to lead to catastrophe? The scrupulous avoidance of judgment by intellectuals (and cargo cult scientists) means that these persons are generally devoid of practical skills or knowledge, and typically incompetent in any area outside the realm of verbal polemic and the slipperiest forms of sophistry. You would think that such persons would at least have a good grasp of logic, or some rudimentary skills of good writing, but that is only rarely the case.

Their ideas are thus disconnected from actual mechanisms of cause and effect in the real world, and spring from their mouths and pens "ex cathedra," as it were.

If the above portrait of intellectuals reminds you of a prominent person -- or prominent persons -- in politics, media, activism, philosophy, punditry etc., that is not a coincidence. The tragedy is that such a portrait might well describe persons prominent in particular areas of science.

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Oil is Rapidly Disappearing, as Crews Prepare to Kill Well

...the pressure in the well has now risen to just over 6,900 psi, while the temperature at the BOP remains at 40 deg – suggesting no flow and that well integrity is apparent. The storm has, however, dispersed and moved the oil ..._BitToothEnergy

It is becoming almost impossible for oil cleanup crews on the Gulf of Mexico to find any oil to clean up -- both onshore and offshore. It seems that nature is a lot better at cleaning up oil in the warm waters of the Gulf than academics, plaintiff's attorneys, and political activists have been claiming. Meanwhile crews are preparing to kill the shut-in Macondo well from both the top (static kill via new sealing cap) and the bottom (bottom kill via relief well). Admiral Allen:
Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen says Monday that the so-called "static kill" -- in which mud and cement are blasted into the top of the well -- should start on Aug. 2.
If all goes well, the final stage -- in which mud and cement are blasted in from deep underground -- could begin Aug. 7.
BP has said the bottom kill could take days or weeks, depending on how well the static kill works. _al.com
For those who are still a bit uncertain about the planned "static kill", here is a Q&A to explain just what to expect.
Question: What is static kill?
Answer: The static kill is an attempt to seal the blown-out Macondo well by pumping it with mud and possibly cement. The hope is that the mud will overtake the oil and push it back down into the reservoir.
Question: Where will the mud come from and where will it go?
Answer: The mud will be fed from two ships on the water's surface to a platform called the Q4000 that will pump it into the well through the kill line of the blowout preventer.
Question: This sounds a lot like the failed "top kill." What's the difference?
Answer: It's almost identical to the "top kill" in that the idea is for the heavy mud to slowly overcome the oil. But unlike the top kill, the static kill calls for mud to be pumped at lower pressures and rates of speed.
Question: Why won't the mud be pumped at high speeds and pressures?
Answer: The higher speeds and pressures required in the top kill are unnecessary because the well is now capped. In top kill, the oil flow pushed the mud out of the top of the well. This time it has nowhere to go, unless there are unseen holes in the well beneath the surface.
Question: When will this static kill happen?
Answer: Crews will try the static kill Aug. 2.
Question: How long will it take?
Answer: The procedure will take about one day.
Question: Could this seal the well for good?
Answer: Yes. If the mud is able to push oil back down into the reservoir and it is followed with cement, the well would, in effect, be sealed shut.
Question: If the static kill works, would drilling continue on the relief well?
Answer: Yes. The relief well, which will pump mud and cement into the bottom of the Macondo well, is still considered the ultimate solution for plugging the well.
Question: Then why do the static kill?
Answer: BP and government officials believe the static kill could speed up the relief well's work. If the static kill does not shut the well, it would presumably still have pumped enough mud in to require less effort from the relief well. If it does shut the well, the relief well would still go forward to confirm that oil is no longer flowing. _NOLA


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26 July 2010

The Unbearable Lightness of Constructive Change

Is there anything about yourself or your life that you've been wanting to change, but somehow just cannot get enough willpower together to make the change? You may be going about it the wrong way. Psychologist Ibrahim Senay of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign looked at the difference between "willfulness and willingness", or the difference between "making it happen" and "letting it happen."

In twelve step programs, for example, participants must admit that they cannot make the needed change by themselves, and must be willing to let a "higher power" assist them in changing. The approach has worked for atheists and believers alike, for good reason, if the person is willing to let go, and let constructive change happen to him.
It’s a tricky concept for many and must be taken on faith. But now there may be science to back it up. Psychologist Ibrahim Senay of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign figured out an intriguing way to create a laboratory version of both willfulness and willingness—and to explore possible connections to intention, motivation and goal-directed actions. In short, he identified some key traits needed not only for long-term abstinence but for any personal objective, from losing weight to learning to play guitar.

...Here is how Senay tested this notion. He had a group of volunteers work on a series of anagrams—changing the word “sauce” to “cause,” for example, or “when” to “hewn.” But before starting this task, half the volunteers were told to contemplate whether they would work on anagrams, while the others simply thought about the fact that they would be doing anagrams in a few minutes. The difference is subtle, but the former were basically putting their mind into wondering mode, while the latter were asserting themselves and their will. It is the difference between “Will I do this?” and “I will do this.”

The results were provocative. People with wondering minds completed significantly more anagrams than did those with willful minds. In other words, the people who kept their minds open were more goal-directed and more motivated than those who declared their objective to themselves.

These findings are counterintuitive. Think about it. Why would asserting one’s intentions undermine rather than advance a stated goal? Perhaps, Senay hypothesized, it is because questions by their nature speak to possibility and freedom of choice. Meditating on them might enhance feelings of autonomy and intrinsic motivation, creating a mind-set that promotes success.

...Next, Senay ran still another version of this experiment, one more obviously related to healthy living. Instead of anagrams, he changed the goal to exercise; that is, he measured the volunteers’ intentions to start and stick to a fitness regimen. And in this real-world scenario, he got the same basic result: those primed with the interrogative phrase “Will I?” expressed a much greater commitment to exercise regularly than did those primed with the declarative phrase “I will.”

What’s more, when the volunteers were questioned about why they felt they would be newly motivated to get to the gym more often, those primed with the question said things like: “Because I want to take more responsibility for my own health.” Those primed with “I will” offered strikingly different explanations, such as: “Because I would feel guilty or ashamed of myself if I did not.” _SciAm
The exercise of willpower involves a tightening and pulling together of the person's resources. The "I", or ego, is fortified and solidified. This makes change -- for good or bad -- more difficult.

The exercise of a wondering willingness opens gaps in the ego -- places where the subconscious components of motivational change can slip in unnoticed, subtly altering the sub-surface dynamics.

Salesmen, propagandists, political operatives, drug dealers, and pickup artists know all about this -- and use numerous cues to get inside a person's mind in order to create manipulated change. But if more parents, teachers, supervisors, and counselors understood these inbuilt mechanisms of change better -- and were willing to call on them to aid the growth of the individuals under their care or instruction -- the everyday world would take on a more constructive appearance.

In the end, it is up to the person to choose the attitude he will adopt in facing the world and his life. And it is that attitude -- whether of willfulness or wondering willingness -- which makes all the difference.

The tricky part is that there is no one attitude which suits all situations. Human beings who attain a higher level of existence are more likely to possess a fuller toolbox of attitudes with which to approach a wide array of situations. Such persons are able to slip from one attitude to another as conditions warrant. This wide and easy adaptability of a full palette of attitudes is priceless, and is unlikely to be achieved automatically -- nor to be the result of indoctrination.

The leaked emails of JournoList and UAE Hadley CRU, provide two good examples of the destructiveness of groupthink and orchestrated indoctrination. Any society that breeds such perversity is in desperate need of constructive change on a societal level.

Like that's gonna happen. In lieu of that, focus on the personal level. Personal constructive change is more satisfying, regardless.

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25 July 2010

Heretics and Sceptics: The Only Ones Who are Thinking

Update 26July2010: Links to 800 Peer Reviewed Paper Expressing Scepticism of the "Climate Consensus"

True believers in orthodox beliefs such as catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, have surrendered their critical thought processes to the orthodoxy. It is only the heretics who continue to evaluate the changing dynamics of what is happening in the real world. True believers have willingly blinded themselves to reality, in trust that the leaders of the orthodoxy would surely notify them of any weakening within the pillars of the dogma.

Be grateful for the heretics.
“My first heresy says that all the fuss about global warming is grossly exaggerated. Here I am opposing the holy brotherhood of climate model experts and the crowd of deluded citizens who believe the numbers predicted by the computer models. Of course, they say, I have no degree in meteorology and I am therefore not qualified to speak. But I have studied the climate models and I know what they can do. The models solve the equations of fluid dynamics, and they do a very good job of describing the fluid motions of the atmosphere and the oceans. They do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry and the biology of fields and farms and forests. They do not begin to describe the real world that we live in. The real world is muddy and messy and full of things that we do not yet understand. It is much easier for a scientist to sit in an air-conditioned building and run computer models, than to put on winter clothes and measure what is really happening outside in the swamps and the clouds. That is why the climate model experts end up believing their own models.” – Freeman Dyson [World class physicist]

...“I’m a skeptic. …Global Warming it’s become a new religion. You’re not supposed to be against Global Warming. You have basically no choice. And I tell you how many scientists support that. But the number of scientists is not important. The only thing that’s important is if the scientists are correct; that’s the important part.” – Ivar Giaever [Nobel Prize, Physics]

... “The geologic record suggests that climate ought not to concern us too much when we’re gazing into the energy future, not because it’s unimportant, but because it’s beyond our power to control.” – Robert Laughlin [Nobel Prize, Physics]

...“Research data on climate change do not show that human use of hydrocarbons is harmful. To the contrary, there is good evidence that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide is environmentally helpful.” – Frederick Seitz[President Emeritus National Academy of Sciences]

...“The scientific facts indicate that all the temperature changes observed in the last 100 years were largely natural changes and were not caused by carbon dioxide produced in human activities.” – Robert Jastrow [Founder of NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies]

...“The available data on climate change, however, do not support these predictions, nor do they support the idea that human activity has caused, or will cause, a dangerous increase in global temperatures. …These facts indicate that theoretical estimates of the greenhouse problem have greatly exaggerated its seriousness.” – William Nierenberg [Manhattan Project Member]_ More at Wattsupwiththat

When a science becomes too wrapped up in politics, it loses credibility with thoughtful and eminent members of other sciences and technical fields. True science cannot be harnessed to a political cause, to bolster a pre-determined conclusion. True science follows the evidence wherever it may lead. Political Correctness is simply not in it.

More: Desperate Days for the Warmists
h/t AnthonyWatts

The idea for interested observors is to not be so naive and uninformed. Take the trouble to learn about the hijinks of the high priests of the orthodoxy of climate doom. Big hint: They have not been exonerated. Bigger hint: Trust no one. You are on your own on this one.

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24 July 2010

US Educational Achievement Drops As Diversity Grows

The New York Times takes a look at falling educational achievement in the US. Once the world leader in percentage of 25 to 34 year olds with college degrees, the US now ranks 12th among 36 developed nations.
“The growing education deficit is no less a threat to our nation’s long-term well-being than the current fiscal crisis,” Gaston Caperton, the president of the College Board, warned at a meeting on Capitol Hill of education leaders and policy makers, where he released a report detailing the problem and recommending how to fix it. “To improve our college completion rates, we must think ‘P-16’ and improve education from preschool through higher education.”

...Canada now leads the world in educational attainment, with about 56 percent of its young adults having earned at least associate’s degrees in 2007, compared with only 40 percent of those in the United States. (The United States’ rate has since risen slightly.)

While almost 70 percent of high school graduates in the United States enroll in college within two years of graduating, only about 57 percent of students who enroll in a bachelor’s degree program graduate within six years, and fewer than 25 percent of students who begin at a community college graduate with an associate’s degree within three years.

The problem is even worse for low-income students and minorities: only 30 percent of African-Americans ages 25-34, and less than 20 percent of Latinos in that age group, have an associate’s degree or higher. And students from the highest income families are almost eight times as likely as those from the lowest income families to earn a bachelor’s degree by age 24. _ImpactLab_quoting_NYT
In order to make the best use of a rigorous 4 year college degree program, a person's IQ should be close to 115 or above -- or 1 standard deviation above the mean IQ of most European and North American countries. But mean IQs of many immigrant groups to the US are substantially lower than the current mean IQ for the US. And it is from these lower-IQ immigrant groups where most of the nation's future young people will arise. In other words, the college-age population of the US is becoming increasingly "diverse," in the sense that a larger proportion of this group will lack the requisite IQ needed to succeed in a rigorous 4 year college program.

In an attempt at greater diversity and enrollment, prestigious universities are seeking to recruit a larger number of students from many low-IQ groups, with predictable results. Fewer of these students are completing college programs -- even when given extra years to finish.

Competition to admit and enroll the "smart fraction" of these generally low-IQ groups is intense among prestigious schools, but even among such smart fractions of low achieving groups, successful completion of degree programs is lower than among students of European or Asian descent.

The NYT article above is a prime example of modern journalism and academia intentionally "looking past" the pertinent questions in order to ask a score of trite and irrelevant ones. If society wants to improve itself educationally and economically, it will need to improve the quality of its human resources.

But in order to do that, it would have to admit that there was a problem with current immigration policies. That is the last thing which the political activist advisors to the current ruling class intend to do.

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"Hurricane" Bonnie a Dud: Ships Hustle to Get Back to Work

Tropical Storm Bonnie broke up over Florida, and is now heading across the Gulf of Mexico as a tropical depression. Some of the mission-critical ships involved in drilling relief wells and in monitoring the seafloor, are hustling back to the Deepwater Horizon spill site so as to not lose any more time than is necessary. The Obama White House -- previously in full panic mode -- may now take a moment to relax and breathe deeply again.
Some ships prepared to move back to the site of BP's broken oil well Saturday as the remnants of a weakening Tropical Storm Bonnie rolled into the Gulf of Mexico.

The rough weather is still expected to hit the area directly, but the storm -- now barely a tropical depression -- broke apart as it crossed Florida and moved into the Gulf.

...The vessels relaying video images and seismic readings from undersea robots monitoring the leaky well are still in place and may be able to stay, he said.
The mechanical cap that has mostly contained the oil for eight days was left closed, and there was no worry the storm would cause problems with the plug because it's nearly a mile below the ocean's surface.

The government's spill-response team held off on any blanket order for resuming the drilling and cleanup activities.

...Work on the relief tunnel stopped Wednesday, and it will take time to restart. Crews on the drilling rig pulled up a mile of pipe in 40-to-60-foot sections and laid it on deck of the drilling rig so they could move to safer water. _al.com
The Obama Pelosi regime has already shut down oil exploration and drilling in the Gulf of Mexico -- for quite spurious reasons. Recent panic-prone behaviours by Obama government officials suggest that this US administration is simply not ready for all the responsibilities it has attempted to take on.

As well-killing operations continue to be set back by government officials and academics seemingly afraid of their own shadows, one wonders just how long it will take to kill this well -- and how long will it take the government to finally re-open the Gulf to exploration? Years? By then, there will be no Oil companies or drilling rigs willing to risk entering US waters for the purposes of oil or gas drilling -- which may be exactly what Obama Pelosi have been aiming for.

Obama's people are causing untold hardship to the people and the economy of the Gulf of Mexico by their arbitrary moratorium on exploration and drilling. The Obama administration narrowly avoided making another monumental mistake in the Gulf when it almost chose to re-open the Macondo oil spill to Gulf waters.

As incompetent as some of the decisions made by TransOceanic, BP, and Haliburton may have been (wait until the facts come out), decisions being made by the US government stand to be orders of magnitude more incompetent and destructive in the long run.


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Another CO2 to Fuels Process: Do We Really Want to Do This?

Researchers at Columbia University’s Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy, in collaboration with Risø National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy, DTU, are investigating the high-temperature co-electrolysis of CO2 and H2O using solid oxide electrolysis cells (SOECs) to produce a syngas for conversion into liquid hydrocarbon fuels. _GCC

The idea of "re-cycling" CO2 back into a fuel -- skipping the middleman of photosynthesis -- continues to be popular in certain scientific circles. This approach involves the co-electrolysis of H20 with CO2 to create an H2/CO syngas, which can be further processed into liquid hydrocarbon fuels.
The Lenfest/Risø team notes that high temperature electrolysis makes very efficient use of electricity and heat (near-100% electricity-to-syngas efficiency), provides high reaction rates (no need for precious metal catalysts), and the syngas produced can be catalytically converted to hydrocarbons in well-known fuel synthesis reactors (e.g. Fischer-Tropsch). There is no need for a separate reverse water-gas shift reactor to produce syngas, and the waste heat from exothermic fuel synthesis is useful in the process.

An analysis of the system energy balance presented by Christopher Graves at the May conference showed a 70% electricity to hydrocarbon fuel efficiency. Using solar photovoltaic energy at 10-20% efficiency, that would result in an overall 7-14% solar energy to liquid fuel efficiency, he said.

Their analysis of the economics of a co-electrolysis-based synthetic fuel production process, including CO2 air capture (earlier post) and Fischer-Tropsch fuel synthesis, determined that the price of electricity needed to produce competitive synthetic gasoline (at $2/gal wholesale) is $0.02 - $0.03 per kWh. _GCC


The Columbia / Riso approach involves the use of Ni/YSZ based solid oxide cells for co-electrolysis. This high temperature approach is somewhat similar to the STEP process being developed by George Washington U. and Howard U. researchers, for the explicit purpose of splitting CO2 for purposes of reduction of atmospheric CO2 levels. The STEP process provides the option of turning atmospheric CO2 into solid carbon for easy sequestration, or turning CO2 into CO for conversion to liquid fuels -- as in the Columbia / Riso approach pictured above.

These approaches will require dedicated (small modular) nuclear reactors to provide the large, steady flow of electricity and heat, required for such high temperature electrolytic substitutes for photosynthesis. It comes down to necessary efficiencies at every step in the process -- including the CO2 capture step.

Are these CO2 to fuels approaches a form of renewable energy? They require vast quantities of reliable electricity and heat to be efficient -- nuclear fission reactors, in other words. Nuclear energy could be sustainable for hundreds of thousands of years, given the proper regime of breeder technology, fuel recycling, inter-locking fuel cycles, and efficient removal of fission-killing by-products. But most political activists currently influencing the ruling class do not see nuclear energy as renewable energy, at this time.

Al Fin engineers and atmospheric scientists are uncertain where the large quantities of CO2 required to make these processes economical will be obtained. If political activists are successful in shutting down large-scale coal and other hydrocarbon power generation processes, CO2 could become rather scarce. (the atmosphere possesses only 0.04% CO2 and despite the sensationalist press, atmospheric levels are not climbing quickly) If the current ruling class is successful in its hysterical crusade against CO2, what can we expect? A chaotic tipping point -- in the opposite direction as that taught in schools -- is not out of the question.

The plant life of Earth evolved, for the most part, under conditions of much higher levels of atmospheric CO2, and conditions of much more "acidic" oceans than at present. The planet's natural systems are, if anything, starved for CO2. If political activists ever grow beyond their greedy scamming stage of carbon scheme and tax grifting -- if they become efficacious at carbon reduction despite themselves -- planet Earth will find itself in a desperate situation where the "great human dieoff" being promoted by political activists will not be optional any longer, but instead mandatory.

Adapted from an Al Fin Energy posting

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23 July 2010

Even Carbon Hysterics Can Learn to Be at Peace with CO2

* 700 square kilometers (270 square miles) of this system would extract the excess CO2 within ten years
A team of scientists at George Washington University and Howard University have devised a theoretical means of splitting CO2, turning the demon gas into either solid carbon or into carbon monoxide, CO. The CO could be used to generate hydrocarbon fuels with the aid of hydrogen -- a by-product of their theoretical process "STEP" (Solar Thermal Electrochemical Photo).
By using the sun's visible light and heat to power an electrolysis cell that captures and converts carbon dioxide from the air, a new technique could impressively clean the atmosphere and produce fuel feedstock at the same time. The key advantage of the new solar carbon capture process is that it simultaneously uses the solar visible and solar thermal components, whereas the latter is usually regarded as detrimental due to the degradation that heat causes to photovoltaic materials. However, the new method uses the sun’s heat to convert more solar energy into carbon than either photovoltaic or solar thermal processes alone.

...the process uses visible sunlight to power an electrolysis cell for splitting carbon dioxide, and also uses solar thermal energy to heat the cell in order to decrease the energy required for this conversion process. The electrolysis cell splits carbon dioxide into either solid carbon (when the reaction occurs at temperatures between 750°C and 850°C) or carbon monoxide (when the reaction occurs at temperatures above 950°C). These kinds of temperatures are much higher than those typically used for carbon-splitting electrolysis reactions (e.g., 25°C), but the advantage of reactions at higher temperatures is that they require less energy to power the reaction than at lower temperatures.

... The experiments in this study showed that the technique could capture carbon dioxide and convert it into carbon with a solar efficiency from 34% to 50%, depending on the thermal component. While carbon could be stored, the production of carbon monoxide could later be used to synthesize jet, kerosene, and diesel fuels, with the help of hydrogen generated by STEP water splitting._Physorg_via_BrianWang

If humans develop the ability to control the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere through technological means, there would be little reason for the widespread hysteria which is seen in the UN, the EU, and in the Obama Pelosi regime. Likewise, as humans develop better technological methods of weather control -- controlling solar insolation, cloud formation, and precipitation -- the modern over-hyped concern about the use of fossil fuels should eventually subside.

The topmost graphic demonstrates the historically very-low levels of atmospheric CO2 found in our current atmosphere. Clearly the biosphere of Earth evolved under generally much higher levels of CO2. Modern high-tech greenhouses use expensive CO2 generators to boost the levels of CO2 to up to 3 X atmospheric levels -- for more optimal growth of a wide variety of plant life.

The modern obsession with "pre-industrial levels of CO2" displays a profound ignorance of this planet's atmospheric and biological history, as the graphic above demonstrates. Closer inspection of the motives of the leaders of the carbon hysteria orthodoxy demonstrates monetary payoffs via carbon trading, international carbon ransom payments, and other economic maneuvers of questionable legality and wisdom.

It is a good idea to develop the means to control basic atmospheric components, in order to provide for rapid recovery from unanticipated geologic or extraterrestrial events. Anyone who has looked at the details of Earth's carbon cycle intelligently and critically will not be alarmed at anthropogenic use of carbon. But the universe holds many surprises for a young race of slightly evolved apes, and it does not hurt to be prepared for as many of those surprises as we can anticipate -- if the results are potentially severe.

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22 July 2010

Retired Admiral In Spotlight, Obama Considers Another Vacation

BP workers in the Gulf of Mexico have stopped drilling a relief well and are preparing to evacuate the oil spill site as a tropical depression nears.

There is a 20-30% chance of tropical storm force winds (39mph or more) at the spill site by Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center says.

Because of the slow-moving vessels at the spill site, evacuation plans are already well under way.

Work on the relief well could be suspended for up to two weeks. _BBC
It is time to make critical decisions about the state of the Macondo wellhead. But decision making by government officials has been glacially slow -- part of the reason why this storm may set well-killing efforts back almost a month. The Obama administration is still considering re-opening the oil spill and allowing millions more gallons of oil to re-pollute an already healing Gulf. But where is Obama in this decision-makiing? Hiding behind the ample bulk of retired admiral Allen.
With the weather in the Gulf likely to get worse in the coming days, the oil response team has a decision to make, one that could mean letting thousands of barrels of oil gush into the gulf again. It's a decision few people envy having to make.

After the first full week of no oil getting into the Gulf from BP's blown-out well, no one wants to have to oil the Gulf on purpose.

"Leave it closed," said one local man.

"Why reopen the well and let the oil leak?" asked a woman as she commuted to work in New Orleans.

But National Incident Commander Thad Allen's decision isn't that easy. Ever since the cap was installed one week ago, they've had to monitor it day by day to make sure nothing happens that could potentially make the disaster even more disastrous. But tropical weather could mean two weeks of no one on the scene to do anything. It's a decision no one wants to make. _WWL.com
Mr. Obama only takes the spotlight when he is in a position to project moral authority and to take credit for something seen to have gone well. In situations of critical decision-making, Mr. Obama tends to stall as long as possible, and finally to vote "present" -- placing responsibility for bad results on subordinates and predecessors.

It may not be such a bad thing that Mr. Obama takes so many vacations. I understand that Phuket is very nice, once again.

Addendum 23July2010: US Energy Secretary Steven Chu has ordered the Macondo well to remain capped and closed during the approach, passage, and aftermath of the tropical storm. All efforts to permanently kill the well will be postponed until seas calm and the working surface vessels can safely return. Meanwhile, the White House has suggested that President Obama and his family are considering a vacation to the Gulf of Mexico sometime this summer.

Oil skimming vessels are being sent to port, but have not found appreciable oil slicks for recovery in the past few days anyway. It is almost uncanny, how quickly the coastline has begun recovering, and how rapidly the oil slicks have faded, once the well was shut in.

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21 July 2010

When Governments Build On Debt as if on a Foundation

An economy built upon debt is not nearly as stable as an economy built upon wealth, productivity, responsible behaviour, and a skilled, intelligent, industrious workforce. Debt trends in the US are looking very ominous at this time, with no sign of abatement. A number of other economic factors are also working against a US economic recovery:
1 - Back in the 1930s, tens of millions of Americans lived on farms or knew how to grow their own food. Today the vast majority of Americans are totally dependent on the system for even their most basic needs.

2 - A vast horde of Baby Boomers is expecting to retire, and the "Social Security trust fund" has nothing but 2.5 trillion dollars of government IOUs in it. According to an official U.S. government report, rapidly growing interest costs on the U.S. national debt together with spending on major entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare will absorb approximately 92 cents of every dollar of federal revenue by the year 2019. This is a financial tsunami the likes of which Americans back in the 1930s could never have even dreamed of.

3 - American workers never had to compete for jobs with workers on the other side of the world back in the 1930s. But today, millions upon millions of our jobs have been "outsourced" to China, India and a vast array of third world nations where desperate workers are more than happy to slave away for big global corporations for less than a dollar an hour. How in the world are American workers supposed to compete with that?

4 - Back in the 1930s, there was nothing like the gigantic derivatives bubble that hangs over us today. The total value of all derivatives worldwide is estimated to be somewhere between 600 trillion and 1.5 quadrillion dollars. The danger that we face from derivatives is so great that Warren Buffet has called them "financial weapons of mass destruction". When this bubble pops there won't be enough money in the entire world to fix it.

5 - During the Great Depression, the United States economy was relatively self-contained. But today we truly do live in a global economy. Unfortunately that means that a severe economic crisis in one part of the world is going to affect us as well. Right now, the United States is far from alone in dealing with a massive debt crisis. Greece, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Portugal and a number of other European nations are in real danger of actually defaulting on their debts. Japan (the third biggest economy in the world) is on the verge of complete and total economic collapse. So what happens to the U.S. economy when the dominoes start to fall?

The truth is that by almost any measure, we are in worse economic condition than we were right before the beginning of the Great Depression. We have been living way beyond our means and the debts we have been piling up are clearly not anywhere close to sustainable.

...The U.S. economy is being driven off a cliff, but America's "ruling class" has insisted all along that they know better than we do.

But the truth is that in the final analysis it is not us that they care about.

...the U.S. economic system is broken. However, considering the fact that America's ruling class has a stranglehold on both major political parties, we are not likely to see any fundamental changes any time soon. _Benzinga

China is experiencing some economic uncertainties of its own at this time. Consider the housing bubble that is threatening to burst in the middle kingdom. What happens to the US and the world economies should the Chinese bubbles start bursting in succession? Most of China's economic bubbles are closely tied to China's corrupt banks and state owned enterprises -- which cut very close to the leadership of the CCP. Things could become very messy, temporarily.

If China were no longer in a position to buy massive quantities of US Treasury instruments -- in fact was forced to sell a substantial quantity -- the current stresses on the US debtor economy could grow to unsustainable levels. China has already downgraded US debt to AA from AAA. When push comes to shove, things could unravel quickly.

Several other large nations are in danger of falling into financial difficulty, largely due to debt and demography. The collapse of Greece or Spain would not have the impact on the world economy as that of the US or China collapsing, but as stress on the EU builds, financial institutions around the world will be pushed to the breaking point.

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Beware the Zombie Nano-Assassin


Perhaps the most important difference between life and non-life is the ability of biological cells and organisms to communicate -- and modify their behaviour on the basis of that communication. Cell signaling and organism to organism communication allow for remarkable adaptation to changing circumstances within and around cells and organisms.

University of Pittsburgh researchers are designing artificial life cellular systems that are able to signal, and achieve self-organising behaviours of a complexity not generally attributed to non-biological entities. This project uses a vastly simplified form of "cell signaling" compared to actual biological cells, but it represents the "baby steps" of a human effort to devise useful artificial nano- and micro- systems which display something of the adaptability and "ingenuity" of living systems.
To communicate, a signaling cell will secrete special nanoparticles known as agonists that prompt the target cell to respond by secreting different nanoparticles known as antagonists. When the antagonists reach the original signaling cell, it stops secreting agonists. Once the signaling cell goes silent, the target cell does the same (it was only secreting antagonists in response to the agonists). At that point, the signaling cell knows to start signaling again.

This cycle locks the two into a cycle that can be thought of as a conversation. Engineers can manipulate that conversation by adjusting the nanoparticles themselves, the capsules' permeability, and the number of nanoparticles each one is given.

But how do the microcapsules know where to find each other? That's the neatest trick of all: the Pitt engineers devised a method -- with a tip of the hat to ants -- wherein the capsules leave a chemical trail behind them as they move about. That trail prompts other microcapsules to follow, just as ants follow one another along a perfect trail even though the trail isn't marked. Such an ability to gather, follow, and cooperate could make for highly targeted drug delivery systems or carry out super-precise chemical processes in the lab. _PopSci
Ants, slime moulds, bacterial signaling etc . . . there are many biological parallels to what the U. Pittsburgh researchers are attempting. The difference is that the biological examples are orders of magnitude more complex than the artificial system -- which is only a computer simulation so far.

Such research may lead to utility fog (flocking nano-actuators) or smart dust (flocking nano-computing). Biomedical research will almost certainly use such technology -- once instantiated in real form -- for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. Military and intelligence agencies will use it for stealth information gathering -- and perhaps for untraceable assassinations.

Once nano-technological tools are given biological-level signaling tools, the variety of tasks for which such hybrid designs could be suited is difficult to overstate. And you will never see it coming, since such very small objects can float on the wind, burrow through "solid objects", or swim through water like a tiny minnow.

These tools can provide narcissistic would-be tyrants with powers far more powerful and selective than any nuclear arsenal.

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20 July 2010

Static Kill Animation + Marshes Begin to Recover from Spill

Along the Gulf coast skimmer boats are still trolling for oil but not finding much. After months of trying to stay ahead of the spill, there's finally a chance to step back and assess progress.

The edge of marshes in the area used to be covered in oil. There are still the black stains on the grass but a month later signs of life: green shoots on the marshes are new growth.

"That tip was almost, you can kind of see, was completely slicked over," said Laura Wyness. She's in charge of protecting the marshes around Grand Isle.

Crews don't touch the grasses, just circle them with boom to absorb the oil. She's seen the grasses go from oil-covered to growing again. It's happening all across this bay.

"For it to be growing back, even with the presence of oil there, is I think a great accomplishment for mother nature herself," said Wyness. _CBS

As you can see from the video above, the Gulf of Mexico shoreline is already recovering from the oil spill, just days after BP capped the well. Imagine how much Obama would be reviled by Gulf residents, should he force BP to re-open the oil well spill, and put the Gulf ecosystems through the disaster yet one more time!

In Kent Wells' afternoon briefing today, he clarified some questions and reiterated other points he had made previously concerning the relief well and the static kill:
...everything’s looking good and as I told you yesterday, the relief well is exactly where we want it, pointed in the right direction. So we’re feeling good about that.
Once again, just remind everybody, and then the intercept of the Macondo well is still for the end of July and then the kill procedure, dependent upon whether we have flow up the annulus casing or both, could take anywhere from a number of days to a few weeks.

In terms of the well integrity tests, the pressure continues to steadily rise. It’s now at 6834. It’s rising at less than one PSI per hour. This is what we’d expect to see. You know it’s just starting to slowly increase. It’s still very much aligned with what we were talking about in that it’s following a predicted path and so that’s all going – going well.

Our monitoring continues on in all the different aspects and at this point, we do not have any anomalies or evidence that would say we do not have integrity. Doesn’t mean we have proven we have integrity – we don’t have any evidence that says we do not have integrity and that’s why we want to continue with this testing. That’s why if you heard - listen to Admiral Allen, we think its prudent just to continue on the test in 24 hour increments. But as each day goes along, it gives us more confidence with the rising pressure and the monitoring going on.

...And then in terms of the static kill – and once again, I want to reinforce, no decisions have been made yet on proceeding forward with that. But we are continuing with preparation and planning. We continue to get equipment lined out, what we would want to do, making sure that we will have the right equipment out there to do it, writing procedures, starting to get procedures approved.

At the same time, we’re doing testes with scientists, challenging the way we’re thinking about this, what we’re doing, so we’ve got parallel paths going on that’s leading towards somewhere ideally in the next day or two that we’d be in position through unified command to make a decision whether we’d go forward with that.

And then I know, you know understanding how does this static kill work with a bottom kill from the relief well. Over the next couple days I’ll look to put together a technical video with some animation to try to demonstrate how that is. It’s not overly complicated, but it’s – I think with a little animation and some video, we can bring some clarity to it. Because I think without that it’s actually difficult to describe it. So we’ll look to do that in the next couple days if at all possible. And of course, that would be once again contingent upon its decided that’s the way to go forward and we’ll keep you informed on that. _KentWells PDF_and_audio
Wells went on to answer some questions from the press. Read the entire briefing at the PDF document linked above or listen at the audio link.

Pressure readings are above 6834 psi and rising at less than 1 psi per hour. The entire sealing cap stack was tested at 15,000 psi before installation, so BP is confident that it can contain any pressures they are likely to confront at the wellhead.

BP has declared its readiness to initiate the start of the "static kill" procedure immediately -- once given permission by Obama administration officials. Since the Gulf of Mexico is subject to bad weather this time of year, it is imperative that government officials press themselves to catch up to the learning curve, and make decisions like CEOs -- not government bureaucrats.

If Mr. Obama and his crew -- through their inaction -- create a situation where once again nearly a million gallons a day are spilled into Gulf of Mexico waters, very few Americans will fail to comprehend whose incompetence is at fault this time.


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Bite Sized Brain Bits

Spanish researchers have developed advanced techniques for filtering and analysing data from electroencephalography, to help in the diagnosis of subtle forms of epilepsy. They hope to develop the same techniques for earlier diagnosis of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and other brain pathologies.

You are almost asleep when you feel something crawling on your hand. Effortlessly, you sweep your opposite hand across, to brush the disturbance away. But British and Spanish scientists have discovered that just a brief magnetic pulse to the parietal cortex can confuse the brain's locator sense. They are using the magnetic pulse probe to locate specific brain centers which control particular functions -- in an effort to better understand various developmental disorders in children.

UCLA scientists are teaching cultures of brain cells how to keep time. Human cognition is based upon large-scale oscillatory patterns which can synchronise for brief periods of time across variable distances in the brain. Teaching cultures of brain cells to communicate in this way could lead to increasingly complex cognitive machines based upon the germinal idea of neuronal "time keeping" and synchronisation of oscillations.

Researchers in Shanghai have discovered a persistent pattern of gene regulation in brain cells from early in life, which may contribute to unnecessary aging and degeneration in the brains of older persons. The scientists speculate that such "runaway development", or dysfunctional persistence of a developmental pattern of gene regulation well beyond its usefulness, may play a part in the brain diseases and dysfunction seen in aging brains.

Scientists from London, Vienna, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, have provided evidence to help understand the stability of social networks. They found that people generally tend to avoid stress-causing relationships in social networks, which appears to make the networks more stable: "Specifically, the theory deals with positive and negative links between three individuals, where 'the friend of my enemy is my enemy' is more stable (and therefore more common) than 'the friend of my friend is my enemy."

The default choice in many situations is the one which causes the least stress or conflict. This helps to maintain peaceful relationships -- both internal and external -- but when such defaults serve to help avoid all cognitive dissonance, they can stunt the individuals growth. Persons can become stuck on "local optima", even when a "global optimum" may be nearby. But such defaults can also protect persons from the (usually) futile pursuit of perfection to the neglect of the merely good.

Such conflicts are common in life, if generally overlooked or missed. The ubiquitous development of societal moral systems -- whether religious or secular -- have generally served to limit such conflict to manageable levels in most "normal" persons. Awareness of and exploitation of such conflicts by advertisers, political operatives, environmental groups, used car salesmen, and propagandists of all kinds can lead to higher levels of conflict which are often missed until catastrophic choices are made.

More: New discoveries about the important role of astrocytes in the brain are being made by researchers in England and Sweden. Astrocytes are one form of glial cells. These "glue" cells have been found to be so important that they are now referred to as The Other Brain.


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BP Considers Variant of "Top Kill" Called "Static Kill"

In Kent Wells' 19July evening press briefing, he announced the possibility that BP would attempt a new way to kill the well from the top called "static kill." It is called "static kill" because the well is currently shut in, with no flow. In this situation, there is no need for ultra-high speed pumping of the kill mud, as in the failed top kill. Instead, heavy mud can be pumped into the top of the shut-in well through the choke and kill lines, in a relatively leisurely manner, under close monitoring. More from Kent Wells:
In terms of the static kill. And let me talk about this because this is – people are probably going gee, we haven’t heard about this. And I think there’s good reasons. This is very much in its infancy. This is not something that we’ve approved to do. We want to have a number of sessions going through all our procedures. But let me tell you what brought this into play.

There was two things that allowed this to become a reality. First of all was the possibility the well having integrity. We needed to have that. The tests are encouraging at this point but we haven’t made a firm decision on that. But that was – that was important.

And the second piece was the fact that it had a lower reservoir pressure. That was important as well to make sure we stay underneath the – any pressure constraints we might have with the system.

And so the big difference between the static kill and of course before when we talked about the top kill, which was a dynamic kill where we had to pump at tremendously high rates to try to overcome the flow of the well. It’s a very different situation when you actually have the well shut in. We can pump at low rates, we can keep it at low pressures and do it in a very different way.

So we’re going to work through with the teams and work with the scientists and see whether this is something we can do. It clearly has some advantages in lowering the well head pressure et cetera. Maybe even to the point of the well being killed. But these are all the things that we need to work through.

Now, what I want to stress through is that at the end of the day the relief well will still be the ultimate solution. We will still drill in with the relief well to make sure that the annulus is dead, et cetera. But this static kill does give us a new option like always we like to pursue parallel options, we’d like to use an overabundance of caution and that’s what we’re doing to move forward. so I’ll put it as – it’s encouraging at this point but there’s a couple days of work to do before we’d be in a position to make a decision. _Kent Wells Briefing PDF_and_audio

Here is more about the static kill:
BP’s new idea of a static kill would involve pumping heavy mud into the well bore, to choke off the oil. A similar technique, called a top kill, was attempted in May but failed. The top kill could not overcome the force of oil flowing out of the well. But now that the cap is on, and holding, the forces involved are weaker and a static kill might work.

“The static kill does give us a new option,” Mr. Wells said. “It’s encouraging at this point but there’s a couple days of work before we’d be in a position to make a decision.”

The move, if it is tried and is successful, would effectively do the job of the close-to-ready relief well, which is now about a metre away from the original well. However, it will take until at least early August, and possibly mid-August, until the relief well is finished. Mr. Wells said the relief well remains “the ultimate solution.” _GlobeandMail


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19 July 2010

White House Panics Over Natural Oil Seep

Officials had worried that the seep — usually a flow of hydrocarbons from the seafloor — could have been evidence that oil, gas or both were escaping from the well up to the seafloor, forcing the government to order BP to remove the cap and resume oil collection.

But seeps also occur naturally, and in a briefing for reporters Monday afternoon, BP said that government and company scientists were coming to the conclusion that the seep was probably of natural origin and unrelated to the well. _NYT

Image Source
BP's Kent Wells reports that pressures at the well head continue to rise -- a good sign -- and are now above 6811 psi. But the discovery of a natural gas seep on the seafloor -- located roughly 2 miles from the Macondo well head -- almost caused the White House to order the re-start of a nearly 1 million gallons a day oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico. Just when Gulf residents had begun to hope their long nightmare was nearly over, the squirrelly Obama administration threatens to start it all up again.

Officials in the Obama administration have become so jumpy that the presence of tiny amounts of oil and gas leaking around the new sealing cap have them on the phone to BP nearly around the clock, seeking constant reassurance.
Some thoughts on all the oil spill handwringing this afternoon. The government says seeps have been spotted within two miles of the site of the blowout. So what? Does that mean it's time to be panic that oil from the Macondo well is finding a new path to the surface, and is set to burst open through the seafloor in a new, unstoppable gusher? Probably not....Natural seeps occur constantly in the Gulf of Mexico, and had been spotted around the blowout well by NOAA's science ship Thomas Jefferson long before this recent capping maneuver. The good news is that according to BP, pressure readings from the well continue to climb roughly 2 psi per hour, to 6,811 psi as of late afternoon. Climbing pressure is a good sign. If the oil were to pop a new hole in the seafloor, we would see pressure plunge. _Forbes
So it looks as if the sealing cap will remain -- despite the panic at the White House -- for at least another 24 hours.
Leaks in the valve stack atop BP Plc’s Macondo well and seepage at the base of the blowout preventer are “inconsequential,” so valves that prevent it from gushing oil will remain closed for now, National Incident Commander Thad Allen said.
Pressure inside the well is 6,811 pounds per square inch and rising, a “positive” sign that there’s no leakage that could accelerate into another gusher of oil and gas, Allen said today at a press conference in Washington.
The well will be shut “day to day,” starting with the next 24 hours, so long as BP continues monitoring the seeps of methane as directed by the government there’s no sign of significant leaks, he said.
The seeps consist of methane, or natural gas, he said. A seep found 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) away was not from the BP well, he said. _BW
President Obama was quite eager to claim credit when it looked as if the sealing cap was successfully closing off the well. But all it took were a few bubbles to shake the White House to the foundation.
From the beginning, authorities said that if the pressure hit 7,500 psi it would indicate that the well was intact. If it went below 6,000 psi, it would indicate that cracks or other damage to the well was allowing oil to escape. So far, the pressure has remained in the indeterminate range between those two numbers. On Monday afternoon it was 6,811 psi, and gradually rising a pound or so every hour, Allen said.

The fact that it's increasing slightly over time -- rather than decreasing -- is a good sign that there's not a leak, says David Rensink, incoming president of the American Association of Petroleum Engineers. _PBS
The possibility remains that the well will lose integrity before the first relief well -- now only 4 feet from the Macondo bore, horizontally -- is able to finally secure the well. If that happens, BP will be forced to resume containment efforts to surface ships such as the Q4000 and the Helix Producer. In that case, some additional oil would spill into the Gulf, during the changeover.

But can you imagine how Obama would be seen in the Gulf and the US as a whole, should he decide to re-open the oil spill into the Gulf based upon a few bubbles of methane from a natural seep? You may suppose that Obama could not appear any more inept than he already does, but he may surprise you over the next few months and years.

More: 5 Wild Technologies used to clean up Macondo spill The problem with "A Whale" may have been that the underwater dispersant used was too efficient. The surface slick was simply too skimpy for the huge supertanker--skimmer.
Causes of marine oil pollution: notice that "extraction" (such as the BP spill) represents a relatively small contributor to ocean oil contamination -- particularly compared to natural seeps and everyday rain runoff from land.

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A Nobel Prize Physicist Questions the Climate Dogma

Robert B. Laughlin Nobel Prize Physics 1998
Climate science is not a deep mystery that is only open to a few persons who have devoted their lifetimes to the topic. To understand climate science one must use the same type of reasoning, and the same type of tools, which scientists and technological / technical investigators in dozens of fields routinely utilise. Far from being glowing untouchables, climate scientists are justly vulnerable to a wide range of criticisms and judgments from persons with a wide range of backgrounds.

Here is one critical look at modern climate science by a 1998 Nobel Prize winner in Physics, Robert B. Laughlin:
Earth scientists tend to be ultraconservative when it comes to the future, presumably because the scientific ethic forbids mixing speculation with fact, and go to extraordinary lengths to prove by means of measurement that the globe is warming now, the ocean is acidifying now, fossil fuel is being exhausted now, and so forth, even though these things are self-evident in geologic time. The unhappy result is more and more data but less and less understanding—a common problem in science but an especially acute problem in climatology. In such situations it’s essential to weigh facts more strongly if they are simple, and use this practice to sweep away confusion whenever you can.

The sea’s immense capacity to store carbon dioxide is one of the simple things with which you can reliably orient yourself. It’s a junior-high-school science-fair project. Leave a glass of distilled water on the counter overnight, and by the next morning it will have become slightly acid, due to the absorption of carbon dioxide from the air. It hasn’t absorbed much—about the amount stored in an equal volume of air—so this effect alone will not sequester much carbon. But drop a piece of limestone in the water, thereby emulating the presence of carbonate rocks at the bottom of the sea, and you will find the next morning that the water becomes slightly alkaline, and the amount of carbon dissolved in the water is now 60 times greater than it was before. After tinkering a bit to figure out where this carbon came from, you eventually discover that half came from the limestone and half came from the air. It all has to do with the marvelous (and elementary) chemistry of bicarbonate salts. You also find that the alkalinity of the water matches that of seawater, as does the carbon dioxide carrying capacity. Thus we learn that the oceans have dissolved in them, in the form of bicarbonate ion, 40 times more carbon than the atmosphere contains, a total of 30 trillion tons, or 30 times the world’s coal reserves.

...A local beach a short drive from my home is backed by cliffs about 100 feet high that expose alternating layers of sandstone, mudstone, and aggregate, perhaps seven layers in all. You can tell without having attended a single geology class that these layers were formed by the action of water, the most likely candidate being the nearby ocean, especially in light of the fossilized clamshells entombed in some of the layers. Yet there they are high and dry, integrated into the rolling hills beyond, as though they were the sliced edge of a huge layer cake.

...The continents have moved up and down over the course of geologic time a greater distance than the sea is deep. We know this because the total thickness of sedimentary rock in some places exceeds four kilometers... now the oceans have been thoroughly surveyed, and oil technologies such as echo stratigraphy and deep drilling routinely find sedimentary rock layers 10 to 15 kilometers thick. The most sensational example of such thicknesses is the Grand Canyon, which required a three-kilometer uplift from sea level to be cut by the Colorado River, and which forms, together with Utah’s Escalante Staircase, a total sedimentary mass 10 kilometers thick.

...The geologic record as we know it thus suggests that climate is a profoundly grander thing than energy. Energy procurement is a matter of engineering and keeping the lights on under circumstances that are likely to get more difficult as time progresses. Climate change, by contrast, is a matter of geologic time, something that the earth routinely does on its own without asking anyone’s permission or explaining itself. The earth doesn’t include the potentially catastrophic effects on civilization in its planning. Far from being responsible for damaging the earth’s climate, civilization might not be able to forestall any of these terrible changes once the earth has decided to make them. Were the earth determined to freeze Canada again, for example, it’s difficult to imagine doing anything except selling your real estate in Canada. If it decides to melt Greenland, it might be best to unload your property in Bangladesh. The geologic record suggests that climate ought not to concern us too much when we’re gazing into the energy future, not because it’s unimportant, but because it’s beyond our power to control. _AmericanScholar_via_ClimateDepot

The scandal emanating from the University of East Anglia's Hadley Climate Research Unit -- popularly referred to as "ClimateGate" -- should have disabused more intelligent observers of any delusions they may have held about the honesty, scrupulousness, good faith, or scientific openness and integrity of several individuals high in the IPCC scientific hierarchy.

The IPCC and its inner circle have used just about every dirty trick and dishonest device known to journalism, public relations, and propaganda. See "AmazonGate" for another example. The orthodoxy of climate catastrophe has all the markings of a quasi-criminal scam. All you need to do once you wise up to that fact, is to "follow the money." Who is racking up frequent flier miles and big martini and massage expense accounts, writing jet exhaust on the atmosphere the entire world around? Who stands to gain from the $mega-billion cap and trade scams being pushed by most European countries and Obama Pelosi? Not a pretty picture.

If you believe in "climate change" (isn't the climate ALWAYS changing?), you may want to clear the cobwebs of that part of your brain and begin to exercise your own judgment -- rather than letting the sleazes and scam artists do it for you.

More: Here is a look at the environmental devastation that is being caused by climate hysterics such as the IPCC and those who take them seriously. h/t Climate Depot

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