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BP oil volcano, flow estimates, engineers, and logic

Checking out some of the latest missives in the BP oillspill PR campaign, theres just something blatantly wrong with a recent statement made by BP about measuring oilflow volumes, thats frankly quite insulting to engineers. Please. Engineers working on stopping a volumetric flow are not concerned with measuring it? That might explain all their failures so far:

BP has resisted entreaties from scientists that they be allowed to use sophisticated instruments at the ocean floor that would give a far more accurate picture of how much oil is really gushing from the well. “The answer is no to that,” a BP spokesman, Tom Mueller, said on Saturday. “We’re not going to take any extra efforts now to calculate flow there at this point. It’s not relevant to the response effort, and it might even detract from the response effort.” [link]

“well, it looks yay big, we dont really need your help, we’re dropping a 4-story cap on it, were inserting another pipe into it…”, really? without pretty damn good flow and velocity estimates? Its either BP outright not giving out what they know, or their engineers are suffering from a common engineering illness, over-specificity in problem solving. Im betting on BP just not wanting to give out their real numbers: I havent met an engineer yet who wouldnt first ask the question, “how big is it?”… There is a theory which believes that to solve a problem quickly, dont open it up to discussion, just get to work on fixing it: the problem is, its debatable whether the historical statistics have proven that point beyond a false positive.

May 16, 2010
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