02 July 2010

the science we are fed

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I find myself trying to think through the advisability of nuking the blowout. We know the government has at least been assessing this approach. And we know that about the most oft-cited "authority" against it has been Michio Kaku, whose bailiwick is string theory, one of the many "physicists" I prefer to call "quantum mechanics" and leave it to you to discern that it's not a confusion of terms.
Is It a Good Idea to Nuke the Oil Leak?
Michio Kaku on June 8, 2010, 6:32 PM

There was brief speculation in the media about using nuclear weapons to seal up the raging oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. I think this is a bad idea, from a physics point of view. Let me say that my mentor while I was in high school and at Harvard, Edward Teller, father of the H-bomb, was a firm advocate of using nuclear weapons to dig out canals and other grand engineering projects. The logic is this: when an H-bomb is detonated underground, most of its energy is in the form of soft X-rays, which deposit most of their energy in a large sphere, where it is absorbed and the energy turned to intense heat. (In the air, this ball of hot ionized plasma rises rapidly, with cold air coming in from the side, which gives rise to the familiar mushroom cloud).

Underground, we then have a hollow sphere of vaporized gas, with walls that have been glassified from the sand. This hollow sphere is stable from a few hours to a few days, but eventually the weight of the rock collapses the sphere. The result is a sudden collapse of the sphere, often releasing radioactive gas into the environment. In the wake of this explosion, we now have a huge hole, often over 1,000 feet across, which, as envisioned by Dr. Teller, could be used to create canals. The Soviets actually experimented with this method to seal gas leaks during the 1960s and '70s.

If this takes place under the sea floor (which has never been done before), there are bound to be complications. First, there would be the release of dangerous, water-soluble chemicals such as radioactive iodine, strontium, and cesium, which would contaminate the food chain in the Gulf. Second, the "seal" created by the glassified sand is probably unstable. And third, it might actually make the problem worse, creating many mini leaks on the ocean floor. Determining the precise effect of such an underwater blast would depend on crucial computer simulations of the various layers of rock under the seafloor, which has never been done before.

In other words, this would be a huge science experiment, with unintended consequences. Furthermore, with hurricane season upon us, and predictions of eight or more hurricanes for this season, it means that seawater several hundred feet below the surface of the water could be churned up and then deposited over the South. This seawater, containing oils and radioactive fission products, would magnify the environmental problem.

In summary, it is not a good idea to use nukes to seal up oil leaks.
The man is referring to underground tests of huge nuclear BOMBS. What is being considered is not similar. It's more of the character of directed mini nukes, and, no, I do not know how mini they have managed to make them, or even how successfully they can direct them, but I do know that the kind of blast and amount of glassification isn't comparable and would be aimed only at pinching off the drill hole.

I am sputtering at Kaku's use of the term "vaporized gas", which really means heated gas, further vaporizing a gas, and is used industrially before cooling it into a liquid so as to optimize transport of it... something like that... the means of packing more gas into a container than the container would otherwise have held... accounting for all those warning labels on tanker trucks and just plain tanks containing gaseousness. So I guess he meant to illustrate the temporary state of pressure equalization in a sand bubble created by a nuclear bomb, but we're not talking about sand. We're talking about rock down four to six miles into the mantle, AND we are talking only about a radically smaller, targeted burst, to pinch a manmade bore-hole-into-the-unthinkable that badly needs pinching off, if possible... if humanly thinkable.

I fail to see how any further toxicity from fucking that up would worsen prospects for living things in this instance.

I do NOT fail to see how it might further weaken the cracks in the strata down there and end up creating another exit for the unthinkable through the back door, so to speak. I also can imagine that all this might piss off that huge methane bubble forming not too far under the sea bed, but the chances that bubble won't pop are not great even if all we do about this is pack the hell up and move as far away from the Gulf as possible.

So I'm not exactly in favor of it, but I truly am beginning to see that it might be the only option with a chance and that the price of failure may not be functionally worse than not trying it at all.


I don't think people have any kind of image in their heads of just how lethal these people are.


  1. For it to work depends on an intact well pipe structure below the point of the pinch off. There is much speculation that this is not the case in this well. The oil and methane leaking from the sea bed has found ways past and outside of the well casing. The attempts to seal it with drilling mud were abandoned because the mud was being lost through the leaks in the well casing.

    Pinching it off may slow the flow, but I'm afraid that will not stop it and may make the sea bed leaks worse. Plus there is the unknown of what would happen with the fractured rock surrounding the explosion point.

    The majority of the people proclaiming that the blast should be on top of the well to seal it with the glass dome seriously need to read Michio's report. Pinching it is the only thing that might work, and that's an mighty big might!

  2. I was unaware people were advocating a blast at the top! That's CRAZY.

    I've only put my toe into the nukes question and only am seeing stuff about a pinch low down in the well. The intact drill pipe structure is mandatory to plugging it with drilling muds, but NOT, that I have seen, for pinching off the whole bore hole down there with miniaturized nuclear devices... NOT bombs... nothing huge. They just need enough to heat everything up within a few feet radius to pinch off the drill hole down there... which, I'm imagining could be followed with filling it with cement above where they pinched it, to whatever extent possible given the certain damage to the pipe in the hole.

    Seems to me this would probably best-case-scenario radically lower the ejecta entering into the gulf, perhaps even foreclosing on pressure to cracks further up and stopping the leaks from them....

    I'm thinking minuscule chance of halting it all, 40 to 60% chance of slowing it considerably, about a 30 to 40% of not helping at all or making it marginally worse, and about a 10% chance of making it radically worse... but the making it radically worse scenario might not even apply because the rise in the seafloor thing might be going to make it radically worse, as I say, no matter WHAT we do, including doing nothing.

    Obviously, it's VITAL that geologists and physicists who have NO political or industrial agenda be allowed access to ALL the information there is about the situation.

    Maybe I shouldn't be speculating at all on what shaky information I've been getting, but it seems pretty clear that the toxicity cannot get much worse than it is, qualitatively, and the ONLY mitigation feasible is to stop or slow the flow. So worrying about what deadly gasses and radiation might breach the surface from a nuke is kind of goofy, given that what is gushing up right now is 100% deadly to living things.

  3. I don't think Kaku was talking about a nuke cap on top of the well. I think he was also talking about using a nuke down low, but he was thinking in terms of underground tests of nukes, BOMBS, in the past... otherwise his use of the word "often" is psychotic. He also does not mention that four out of Russia's five nuke-pinched wells WORKED.

    It's my understanding that the two "relief wells" being drilled are positioning themselves low down on the bore, ostensibly to inject muds, to cement it from the bottom, but almost everyone says that's NUTS because there's almost no chance the pipe down there is in any shape for such a procedure. I believe they don't intend to be that stupid. I believe they're drilling down to within feet of the bore hole to deploy nukes to pinch it off... that the decision has already been made... SINCE it is clearly the ONLY option with any real chance of at least partial success.

    I think they're not wanting us to know this because it would panic us.

    I think they are leaving the population of the Gulf coast areas COMPLETELY out of their math.

    That's the way it's looking to me.

    Even if the pipe down there is intact, there is CLEARLY way too much pressure for them to be expecting their muds to stop it up. They HAVE to be thinking nukes OR just plain never slowing the blowout... just PRETENDING to try. One or the other. Nothing in between makes any sense at all.


  5. Well, wait. Those "relief wells" COULD be as it originally seemed, actual relief wells, so they can pump crude out of them while this one continues to spew. It could be everything they're saying about the purpose of them being to cap this puppy from below is bullshit.


  6. They're called "mud logs" and industry guys call them "mud dogs" and so you call yer representative and threaten them if they don't get the mud logs from the companies.

    Whatever threat you want to use is fine by me, just don't be nice about it.

  7. The pinching was accomplished by shoving the rock structure against the pipe - from the reports I've seen.

    Dome Cavity Collapse


    Not everybody is so
    sanguine about the Soviet experience. Speaking on condition of
    anonymity, an expert from Russia‘s largest oil
    exporter Rosneft, urges the United States to ignore calls for the atomic
    option. “That would bring Chernobyl to America,” he says.

    Vladimir Chuprov from Greenpeace’s Moscow
    office is even more insistent that BP not heed the advice of the veteran
    Soviet physicists. Chuprov disputes the veterans’ accounts of the
    peaceful explosions and says several of the gas leaks reappeared later.
    “What was praised as a success and a breakthrough by the Soviet Union is
    in essence a lie,” he says. “I would recommend that the international
    community not listen to the Russians.
    Especially those of them that offer crazy ideas. Russians are keen on
    offering things, especially insane things.”

    Minister Mikhailov agrees that the USSR had to give up its program
    because of problems it presented. “I ended the program because I knew
    how worthless this all was,” he says with a sigh. “Radioactive material
    was still seeping through cracks in the ground and spreading into the
    air. It wasn’t worth it.”

    Should we nuke it?

  8. Off to our favorite Mexican Restaurant - Rey Azteca.

    Night out with Rin, Gave the kids $ - they can go find their own!

  9. Have fun... EXCEPT you forgot to give me $ to go find my own!

    I am aware of the rumors of later failures of the reported Soviet successes, and, if true, together with all the drilling catastrophes we never heard of, obviates blaming our driving habits and lightbulbs for global warming for sure. I wish I could remember what videos and message boards had the salient information for the scenario as I envision it, but since I was NOT even going there in my head at the time, I will have to wait for hypnotic suggestion to bring the links back to mind.

    This drill was about six miles below the sea floor when it blew... and it was not YET to the deposit because they had begun to cement it off for later exploitation when all hell broke loose... from using cold sea water instead of expensive muds to harden it off. So just say the top of the reservoir is at six miles, even though it's probably a bit lower.

    If you go down, say, five or five and half miles with small nukes just sufficient to break up the pipe and surrounding rock in the second/s before it heats all enough to melt together... for X number of feet up from that point, whether this would form a pocket of radioactive gas that might make it to the surface some day or not, you have at least temporarily halted the insane pressure of the ejecta coming out of the BOP right now... AND, possibly the pressure on cracks that have formed to let oil out elsewhere on the sea floor, but at least the BOP flow.

    Next, you get back to the BOP or well head and start injecting muds like crazy to fill as much of the four or five miles of drill fissure left above the nukes pinch. It HAS to be a nuke and not a conventional blast because you have to melt the shards to get even a temporary seal on that flow. The pressure is outrageous, but after filling the wrecked drill hole with "cement" -- the heavy muds that harden off -- you end up with a situation ALMOST as patent as before you drilled. I know everyone is afraid it's fragile down there, but it can't be SO fragile or they couldn't have drilled down that far; they couldn't have managed all the nearby wells; and crap would have been spewing up into the Gulf all over long before this.

  10. The seafloor rise is probably from a collapsed stratum down below, with this methane/magma thing back filling into that collapse and pushing.

    So maybe a nuke pinch would have to be well clear of that, but could still be low enough to give a good plug to it. Maybe leave it in a condition where there would be hydrothermal vents in places instead of the whole seafloor blowing.

    But, really, all that could be stopping the whole seafloor from blowing is one more stratum collapsing, letting too much of this insane pressure up over too great an area... and any blast at all... OR none... could cause that to go.

    I don't know. I just know the nukes they're talking about now are NOT like the nukes Kaku OR the Russians were talking about. AND that trying to do the muds cap down there is as or more futile than their futile attempt to do it up here, EVEN if the pipe is patent down there. It'll all just get blown back up into the ejecta at the BOP and maybe if they kept pumping the shit it would eventually seal above, in the wrecked pipe, but that would leave it pressing like holy fuck on all the cracks all the way up.

    Thank you for enduring my thinking on "paper" here.

    I don't know. I just know nukes may very, very well NOT be as crazy as our guts or any old time scientists's guts would try to state.

    AND the devastation of doing nothing or trying what they SAY they're trying is leaning waaaaay into the worse than going for the nukes zone.

    Oil spills kill almost all cleanup workers. Toxins from this blowout are already getting sucked into the sky and raining down on people and plants and animals and watersheds far inland. If we don't stop this it will kill the entire Gulf and everything around it for hundreds of miles... even if it doesn't get out into the Gulf Stream.

  11. The only way this chilling nonchalance by the administration, and tight lid on information by the government and the companies, is not beyond satanic is that they have this planned and are carrying it out... judging that the secrecy will cause less panic... and help save face if they fail.... If it is as they say it is, it's beyond satanic.

    I mean, if it is as they say it is and they are saying that in good faith, that is too stupid to be supported... no? I think so.

  12. No! Wait! The pipe down at the bottom was blown back up into the pipe higher up and smacked into the BOP from below when this thing blew. The pipe at the BOP was bent, partially crimped a couple days later when the Deepwater Horizon sank. So there's NO pipe to drill into down there! It's just the naked bore hole.

    GOD. DAMN. IT!

    We need every fucking SCRAP of information all in one place and accessible by EVERYONE.


    Fuck. I gotta find some ice for my head.

  13. So there's NO pipe to drill into down there! It's just the naked bore hole.


    That's one of the theories anyway.

    But then we aren't being told anything near the truth!

    Consider how much oil has been sunk or has never reached the surface due to the use of dispersants and then take a look at this:

    June 19th, 2010


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