In the early s, Roger Penrose introduced new mathematical techniques to solve Einstein's equations where exact answers were unavailable because of asymmetry. In the s, Robert MacArthur and his colleagues invented simple holistic ecological models. His program in population ecology was aimed at bringing community ecology, e. In the s, Ilya Prigogine theorized that the first cells were thermodynamic 'dissipative structures,' that is, they organized themselves, and with the influx of energy in the form of food or sunlightbecame more instead of less organized.
The press reported estimates for the oil spill rate that varied widely. As someone who read newspaper headlines, I saw the reported rates rise with each passing day of the unfolding environmental disaster.
During the late evening of May 12,an email invitation was sent to Berkeley faculty working in fluid mechanics, challenging them to estimate the oil spill rate based on a YouTube video of the leaking pipe just released to the public by BP. The PBS Newshour was soliciting estimates based on the video.
I teach a course in order-of-magnitude estimation and so a challenge like this was too good to resist. I happened to be awake at the time the email announcing the challenge arrived in my inbox.
I clicked on the YouTube video, scribbled some numbers, sent in my entryand went to bed. The calculation seemed straightforward except for the fact that there was no scale bar for length on the video, and so I had to estimate the diameter of the pipe and the flow speed using other considerations, which I explained as part of my email.
When I got into work the next morning, I was shocked to find my answering machine clogged with more than a dozen messages. They were all from reporters asking for more information. I probably spent half my working hours that day fielding questions by phone and by email. Some requested that I come into their television studios to describe "my method" for the evening news.
I imagined myself waving my hands and doing high-school algebra on national television and declined these requests. Back then in mid-May, the fastest reporter on the scene, and one of the most thoughtful, was Richard Harris of National Public Radio NPRwho put together this article, with audio.
I had been interviewed by this commission, and it contains what I had to say as well as a well-researched and surprisingly readable account of the various and sundry estimates of spill rate that people had calculated and re-calculated see pages A grand total of 4.
According to Wikipedia, although the well has been capped, oil may still be leaking out. The lessons I draw from this episode are lessons that cry out to be acknowledged in one form or another every day. First, and obviously, our addiction to fossil fuels is destroying the environment. Second, the estimate of spill rate could have been made by anyone with a working knowledge of pre-college and in some countries, grade-school level math and science, plus a healthy dose of common sense.
Without any understanding of fluid dynamics, one can look at the video, make some common-sense guesses for the size of the pipe and the flow velocity, recall some basic geometry and dimensional analysis, and arrive at a "ballpark number" for the spill rate.
I was surprised how few such estimates were being made when the video was released; people, even scientists, were leaving it for "experts". Plenty of people have the ability to make such estimates, but seem too lazy or frightened to try.
Breaking down the barrier to quantitative reasoning is something that people in my line of work are always trying to do. How much sounder would our public policy be if we had a quantitative basis for deciding what is "small" and what is "big" what is "minor" and what is "important" what is environmentally "tolerable" and what is "catastrophic" by doing a few simple sums, in our head or on paper.
Mon Aug 13 Search past ICEAA Workshop Proceedings in the table below and click the title to access the downloadable files. Workshop Proceedings are available online.
Download-Theses Mercredi 10 juin In , Franco Pacini pointed out the the gravitational energy released when a star collapses would be converted to rotational energy. "A normal star like the Sun [would] speed up from a rotation period of 27 days to a rotation period of much less than a second when it becomes a neutron star" (Lang and Gingerich ).
Replacing your oil is easy - BMW knows that this needs to be performed once about every miles, and designed the car that way. On the other hand, the BMW transmissions used on the E36 were supposedly designed with a life-time fluid that did not need to be changed.
Prologue "Try to touch the past. Try to deal with the past. It's not real. It's just a dream." —Ted Bundy It didn't start out here.
Not with the scramblers or Rorschach, not with Big Ben or Theseus or the vampires. Most people would say it started with the Fireflies, but they'd be wrong. 3 Model of spills and ﬁres from LNG and oil tankers 22 of oil spills on the surface of the sea  and corroborating laboratory measurements .
52 Examples are given for spills from typical LNG and oil product tankers. 53 2. Fluid mechanics of the spill process.