And the oil cleanup X-Prize goes to….

The original X-Prize was for a private spaceship, and the goal was to prove that a privately developed manned spaceship was viable. The Ansari X-Prize (named for it’s financial sponsor) was $10 million, and it was won by Scaled Composites in in 2004. Since then, the X-Prize Foundation has turned its attention to more practical matters such as a 100 MPG car (Progressive Automotive X-Prize) and, the latest to be awarded, the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X-Challenge.

The challenge was to beat 2500 gallons per minute of oil with an oil recovering efficiency (percentage of oil vs. water in the recovered gallons) of 70% or greater. The previous record was less than 1100 gallons per minute. Two companies beat the challenge, with the winner more than doubling the goal. Continue reading

Nota Bene #118: VOTE!

“I am not fit for this office and should never have been here.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #115: RIP No. 32

“If you’re really pro-life, do me a favor—don’t lock arms and block medical clinics. If you’re so pro-life, lock arms and block cemeteries.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #114: Big Star

“The radio makes hideous sounds.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #112: GOOOLLLLLLLL

“Freedom of any kind is the worst for creativity.” Who said it? Continue reading

Visualization of the scale of the oil spill

Andy Linter at spent some time with Google Maps recently and came up with a visualization tool for the scale of the BP oil slick. When you got to his site, his site grabs your location from your IP address and then moves an overlay of the present size of the oil slick from the Gulf to over your home. The image at right is how big it would be if it were centered near my home in the Denver metro area, Colorado.

After the last census I calculated what percentage of Colorado’s population lived between Colorado Springs and Fort Collins, and it was somewhere between 70-80% of the state. So if that slick were here in Colorado, 3.5 to 4 million people would be covered in oil.

Click on the image to get a feel for how much of your neck of the woods it would cover.

h/t to S&R’s own wufnik

Deepwater Horizon rig "damaged" – WTF?

I was heading into work today when I heard someone on NPR talking about the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and the rig’s owners Transocean. Apparently Transocean is trying to limit the company’s liability to about $27 million even though it has already been paid over $400 million by the company’s insurers. While I think that’s pretty shitty, that wasn’t really what grabbed my attention during the brief “coming up next” announcement.

No, what grabbed my attention was that the NPR guy said that the rig was “damaged.” Not destroyed, just damaged. And I might be OK with using the word “damaged” if it had only been the explosion and fire. But last I checked, it had sunk in water nearly a mile deep. That strikes me as needing an adjective that’s a bit more… serious than “damaged” implies. Continue reading