May 14th, 2010
09:17 AM ET

On the Radar: Gulf oil spill, a CNN hero and the laser

Gulf oil spill - A U.S. congressman said he will launch a formal inquiry Friday into how much oil is gushing into the Gulf of Mexico after learning of independent estimates that are significantly higher than the amount BP officials have provided. BP officials have said 5,000 barrels per day of crude, or 210,000 gallons, have been leaking for the past three weeks. But after analyzing videos of the spill, a researcher at Purdue University has predicted that about 70,000 barrels of oil per day are gushing into the Gulf.

President Obama also plans to discuss the Gulf of Mexico oil spill with top aides on Friday; he is to talk publicly about those meetings at 11:50 a.m. ET. The Coast Guard plans to brief reporters on efforts to fight the spill at 10 a.m.

CNN Heroes - Dana Cummings survived two tours of combat duty as a Marine in the first Gulf War without injury. But 10 years later, he lost a leg in a car crash. A divorced father of three, Cummings said he was abandoned by his girlfriend and denied physical rehabilitation by his insurance. Realizing he needed to be strong for himself and his children, he began an intense workout regimen in the hospital. He then found his own brand of rehab in an unlikely place: A surfboard. In 2003, he helped create the Association of Amputee Surfers, or AmpSurf. The nonprofit, volunteer-run organization is dedicated to teaching people with disabilities, most of them veterans, how to surf — for free.

Clinton meets with Hague - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton plans to meet at 11 a.m. ET on Friday with new British Foreign Minister William Hague. They plan to speak with reporters at 1 p.m. ET.

The anniversary of the laser - It was described by scientists at the time as “a solution looking for a problem.” But when the first working laser was developed 50 years ago this week at California’s Hughes Research Laboratory, it didn’t take long for the concentrated beams of light to find work. Having fascinated science-fiction fans since the late 1800s, lasers (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation) have become common, almost commonplace, in modern life.

soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Tony

    I have posted this before so I will just give a quick summary here.

    I think the way to stop the leak is to detomate a very low yield tactical nuke under the SEABED to fuse the ground and seal the leak without any radiation escaping..

    I've read on the internet that the Russians are suggesting this and have done it themselves successfully with natural gas leaks below ground (tho not below water also)..

    I guess this will have to wait–as a last resort (plan Z) after all else has failed. However, hopefully when they finaly get around to drilling the "relief well " (plan Y?), they might end up drilling it only a fraction of the way down to the oil, inserting the device, filling the hole with cement and setting it off.

    Voila!! leak plugged.

    May 16, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Philip Tortora

    As this environmental disaster of epic proportions drags on – with the dire consequences yet to be fully determined and realized – the U.S. government needs to take a more urgent and heavy-handed approach to the clean up. And not publicly designate a company already being accused by many as grossly negligent and incompetent as the primary organization responsible for saving the environment.

    Sure, some of this is posturing and our government is letting BP know it has a lot of liability in the matter.

    But this oil spill has already spun way too far out of control, and it’s starting to seem like nobody knows what to do or how to stop it.

    May 16, 2010 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. gaetano marano

    why don't start now to build the 200 tons cube in case the current attemt would not solve the problem (or not enough) instead of lose a further week of time with millions of gallons more oil spilled?

    May 16, 2010 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sean

    I have some experience in flowrates.

    If the pipe is 21" in diameter (same order of magnitude as a barrel). If you look at the speed of the bubbles coming out in the stream you can use them as a maerker. They appear to be traveling at a speed consistent with several (3 or 4) feet per second. Therefore, that volume exiting the pipe every second is on the order of magnitude of a Barrel of oil.
    Simple Math = 1 B/sec * 60 sec/min * 60 min/hr *24 hr/day = 86,400 Barrels/day (approximate order of magnitude).
    Therefore, I would say 70,000 barrels per day is a better estimate than 5,000.

    May 18, 2010 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  5. Charles Connor

    Use icebergs to help with Gulf Emergency
    Mike Whitney says we could sail a iceberg into the gulf.
    Then after that I thought to spin it around and around (maybe with submarines) as to create spirals in the water of oil or .what there. Then keep spinning.
    I think the spinning effect will also pull water from inland water toward the spinning iceberg.
    The shape of the iceberg could help or hurt spiral effect.
    Then scoop it up.
    We might need one (iceberg) off east coast also.
    Now we are not going to do this every summer.
    Of course for a small fee ....(more).....ok

    May 18, 2010 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |


    May 19, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. hangBP

    we need to hang the people that caused this mess...

    May 27, 2010 at 3:22 am | Report abuse |
  8. Tom M.

    Having watched the video of the oil gushing out of the pipe I don't understand why it took BP or the Coast Guard so long to make a real estimate of the amount of oil escaping. It looks to me just watching the video that the oil is emerging around 2 to 3 feet per second. Given the size of the pie, 16 inch diameter = 1.33 feet , that means there is (1.33/2)**2 times 3.14159 (pi R squared) cubic feet per second emerging at a rate of between 2 and 3 feet per second. This translates into a range of about 2.8 cubic feet per second to 4.2 cubic feet per second. Since there are 7.48 gallons in one cubic foot of volume that means between 21 gallons and 33 gallons per second are escaping. Converting that to the gallons per day there are between 1.8 million gallons and 2.9 million gallons escaping per day. Of course better instruments than my eye can determine the actual rate of escape from the pipe, and then there has to be some consideration of the percentage of oil and gas in the mixture. In any event it is pretty clear that the amount of oil coming out of the pipe is far greater than BP stated at the beginning. Since they have thousand of engineers working for them capable of working out this simple equation, I can't believe that they really thought the volume was so low. Were they misinforming the public on purpose?

    June 13, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
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