Friday, February 04, 2011

An Open Letter to Malia Obama

I see that you will turn thirteen this coming Fourth of July. Like nearly all of your peers, you are doubtless beginning to realize how embarrassing parents can be. Being First Daughter of the United States (FDOTUS) makes your plight unusually public. So I want to offer you some help in what has already been a remarkable effort to minimize the embarrassment your father causes you. First, I think it is best to publicly recognize three instances where you have made progress in reducing his embarrassment quotient (EQ).

Your greatest success was to get him off the dime and issue a clear, forthright and appropriate directive on how the government ought to address the Deepwater Horizon spill, “Plug the damn hole”. Just as you cannot choose your parents, it is also true that you could not control the efforts of the Ivy League elitists your father had appointed to key Cabinet posts. They mangled your Peter of Haarlem (the Little Dutch Boy) intervention strategy into a Jack & Jill bucket brigade collection strategy with predictable results (Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after).

Your next success was to get him to watch something on TV besides sports, to the point that he expressed his innate vanity to challenge the Mythbusters to replicate Archimedes. He and they failed, thereby bringing his ego down another peg. Which then allowed you to advise him to announce in his State of the Union address that we face a “Sputnik moment”. That is mostly just standard liberal projection of their own shortcomings onto the world at large thereby preserving their fragile egos. But it is further proof that you are undermining his massive ego with its implicit justification for him to continue to boss you around, simply because kids need to obey grownups “Just because”.

So I have a plan for you to continue this campaign with the assistance of a 15 year old reality TV star from the Discovery Channel’s Gold Rush Alaska hit show. It has to be real if people can watch it on reality TV! The plan is to revisit the after effects of the Deepwater Horizon spill and to use your common sense to upstage the Oil Spill Commission appointed by your father and find a solution for an effective containment plan for offshore drilling, thereby allowing the industry to get back to work providing oil, jobs and taxes that are currently sitting on the sidelines. First, you’ll need to gather the self-confidence to do the job. That ought not to be too big a hurdle. Just remember that the most qualified technical expert on the commission is a Harvard engineer. What an oxymoron, “Harvard engineer”, everyone knows that the real engineers in Cambridge all attend MIT! Instead of following your commonsensical plan, they started substituting what they felt would work. You cannot allow them to get away with such insolence! So what the situation calls for is a resurrection of your plan with a few enhancements. Fortunately for you, such a plan was presented in real time during the spill and was ignored by the powers that be. You just need to co-opt it for your own and call it the “Malia’s Marbles” plan. Co-opting from the private sector is the raison d’etre of the government!

The plan appeared as a thread on the oil industry blog The Oil Drum. You can take my word on it that during the crisis more TV producers were reading The Oil Drum than even Journolist! The finger in the dike was to fill the Macondo well with ½” diameter glass marbles. That’s it for the duties required of Peter of Macondo!. It is not a complete solution, but then neither was Peter of Haarlem’s finger. It took some follow up remediation to fully restore the integrity of the dike.

An independent expert fdoleza had this to say
Well, I ran my model and if you can fill the well with marbles, the marble matrix has a permeability of 200 darcies, and the tube length is 13,000 feet, then you do get one hell of a pressure drop, the well flow would be restricted to less than 500 BOPD.
Dropping the flow from 62,000 BOPD down to only 500 BOPD seems to be a major advance! That means that what had been one day’s flow would now take 124 days, enough time to drill a relief well! Note his big “…if you can fill the well…”, but the practical example of hailstones informs our confidence. You know that growing hailstones remain aloft only until they grow big enough to fall against the viscous uplift inside the thunderstorm. And we observed from the “junk shot” that the golf balls sank rather than rising into the mostly closed shear ram in the blowout preventer. A golf ball sized hailstone weighs only a tiny fraction of what a golf ball does, and the marble is nearly twice as dense as a golf ball. We can be confident that the marbles will sink. Admittedly there were skeptics of which Sticks was the most cogent
The Formation is porous sandstone - and if you look at it through a magnifying Glass it looks like millions of Teeny weenie marbles all stuck together, and between all these teeny weeny marbles there is even smaller teeny weeny spaces. Now that pesky oil is nice and hot and thin and can flow quite freely through these teeny weeny spaces - So at a guess - I would think it would flow right past your marbles.
Even if you kept reducing the size you would have to get down to the size of mud particles before you could stop the flow, and if you already filled the tube with marbles you have to get the mud stacked up real high on top of pile marbles - Couple feet of mud on top of marbles wont do the job - you still got have the mud column high and heavy enough to generate the pressure to stop the oil flow..
Drawing Board that way ---------------->
I think the plan needs a little bit of adjustment.
But notice that he chose a porous sandstone when the glass marbles are impermeable, which is why glassware is the global standard for science labs. And slklinecam interjected a voice of experience
They do this already, Marbles that is. Called a Gravel Pack isn’t it? Designed for Sand control and increasing the flow.
But an open question is whether the follow on technique of injecting progressively smaller glass particles to form a plug will work. Which is where our young expert from Gold Rush Alaska comes in. He advises the adult miners of the flaws in their duplex jig.

So it seems our younger generation is capable of doing common sense science. What we need is for adults to encourage their learning process while keeping their own know-it-all attitudes to themselves. I recommend that you act quickly to assert your independence (suitable for a Yankee Doodle Dandy Girl born on the Fourth of July!) because your parents are likely to continue to devise ways to remain the bane of your existence. I’d bet your mother is plotting with her cronies (or is that her friends, the crones?) to impose the Chinese Tiger Mother nonsense upon you. As Oprah would put it, “You go girl!”

Best regards,

Bruce Thompson

P.S. It may find the story of raising the plume to kill the oil fires of Kuwait interesting too.