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NSF Gives Supercomputer Time For 3-D Model of Spill

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the why-can't-we-just-add-a-vinegar-spill? dept.

Supercomputing 102

CWmike writes "Scientists have embarked on a crash effort to use one the world's largest supercomputers to create 3-D models to simulate how BP's massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill will affect coastal areas. Acting within 24 hours of receiving a request from researchers, the National Science Foundation late last week made an emergency allocation of 1 million compute hours on a supercomputer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center to study how BP's gusher will affect coastlines. The computer model they are working on 'has the potential to advise and undergird many emergency management decisions that may be made along the way, particularly if a hurricane comes through the area,' said Rick Luettich, a professor of marine sciences and head of the Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, who is one of the researchers on this project. Meanwhile, geographic information systems vendor ESRI has added a social spin to GIS mapping of the BP oil spill."

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102 comments

In Time? (2, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352260)

Is it really possible to develop, test, and run a complex simulation of the gulf's currents and weather in time for it to be useful for the recovery? It seems to me like the kind of job that could take a couple years to get right, even assuming we know everything we need to make such a simulation. Maybe they want the simulation developed today so that it can be used to evaluate potential future disasters? To help quantify the risk involved in this kind of drilling?

Re:In Time? (1)

LucidBeast (601749) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352294)

Considering that BP doesn't even bother measuring how much oil is spilling I think the modellers will have some trouble coming up with anything else than cable news entertainment animation.

Re:In Time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32352362)

This isn't about Microsoft so Sopssa will be really silent during this discussion.

Re:In Time? (4, Interesting)

Stephen Samuel (106962) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353144)

Considering that BP doesn't even bother measuring how much oil is spilling

Well, I'm pretty sure that they have a rough idea, and it's way more than what they're saying in public. They just don't want to formalize their estimates, because then they'll have to report the numbers. I did some napkin (units(1)) calculations based on the volume of dispersant that they say they've been using and, if they're using at the suggested dilution, then at a minimum they're dealing with 60K~500K barrels per day.
((don't have the actual calculations on hand, right now, and I'm on a different computer, so I can't even just look at my command line history))

And that's a minimum.... the volume that they're using may be limited by the supply chain.

I'm guessing that, in internal conversations, they're duck-speaking their way around solid numbers... For example, they can talk about how much dispersant they'll need ( a number based on oil flow), but there's probably an unwritten rule about never mentioning the oil flow estimate that underlies that calculation, because it'll be seekable in disclosure requests, and they'll still be able to 'truthfully' claim that they've never talked about the actual oil flow.

Re:In Time? (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#32355878)

Well, I'm pretty sure that they have a rough idea, and it's way more than what they're saying in public.

That's a pretty solid statement. They've gone out of their way not to actually mention any figures in their public statements. All the 5k barrels / day numbers come from people like the Coast Guard and NOAA. The only numbers BP reports are what worked, i.e. how much oil they are syphoning off with their riser insertion tube.

Given the circumstances can you really blame them. :-)

Re:In Time? (1)

azrider (918631) | more than 3 years ago | (#32357796)

They've gone out of their way not to actually mention any figures in their public statements. All the 5k barrels / day numbers come from people like the Coast Guard and NOAA.

Except for the one where they admitted that the pipe they attached was drawing 5K barrels/day into the ship with no visible decrease in the leak rate. That one did come from BP.

Re:In Time? (4, Funny)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352314)

If my knowledge of B-movies is correct, there's already a GUI interface with 3D graphic modelling too (in Visual Basic, no less)! It's just a matter of typing a few parameters on a keyboard. How real supercomputers got mixed up in a cheap disaster movie, I'll never know.

Re:In Time? (4, Interesting)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352596)

Well, You're actually not too far from the truth. Surprisingly enough, video game engines provide great simulators for these kinds of things.

I know of a few cases where people have licensed the Unreal Engine for creating their own simulators, specifically I think it was to deal with some high collision testing. Since the Unreal team has started with some fluids physics, its not hard to see someone possibly using that engine to simulate the effects.

Then, all thats needed is the writing of Entities, which is usually done in C++, not VB. But the idea is the same, you only need about a weeks worth (40 hours) to write the basic entities you'll need, and maybe a bit longer for the complicated ones. Depends on what you are simulating, but if say there are only 4 different types of matter they have to consider, water, oil, air, dirt, than there really isn't that much to add.

So, really, the GUI would be already made, it'd probably be the Unreal Map Editor. The Code they would be writing would be C++, which most /.ers can at least recognize, and you won't need to make any models, since you are going to be using brushes for the landscape and liquids for the rest.

Not that they had to us Unreal, they also could use the Source Engine, though I don't think source offers much in the lines of liquids. But there are actually many ways to go about this. In fact, some modelling and animation software lets you simulate water physics, one in particular I know but I can't recall the name right now. (A plugin for Maya or 3dsMax or Softimage? Bah).

So really, the only LENGTHY part of development is duplicating the ocean currents, which if you have recent records on, is about as trivial as stitching their co-ordinates to the map you create, and making your entities flexible enough to handle the varied input.

I'm not trying to belittle the task of simulating something like this, but with a team of 10 or so people I could see it being done rather quickly. You have to realize that simulations are never quite 100% like the real thing. They have to cut off at some approximation point to keep the simulation running, otherwise the computer would hang trying to figure out the googelth digit. So, really, because the gulf is so large, its not like they have to calculate everything down to the particle.

Re:In Time? (2, Insightful)

jpmorgan (517966) | more than 3 years ago | (#32354946)

Uh, no. Nobody uses the Unreal Engine or the Source Engine to model diffusion and fluid flow. This is a field I work in professionally and academically, and you'd be a laughing stock if you seriously suggested taking this route. There is an enormous difference between a game engine which is designed to make things look good, and an accurate physical simulator.

Furthermore, the underlying software already exists, academically and commercially, with 6 figure licensing fees, which is good because developing a simulator and validating it would take months, as the GP said. The challenge isn't writing the code, it's building an accurate model.

Re:In Time? (1)

excelsior_gr (969383) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353394)

Actually, the GUI interface *does* exist! There are various packages to do that, e.g. Paraview and Ensight. One needs to output the numerical data in a format that these programs can understand (e.g. .vtp for Paraview that can be binary or even plain ASCII, with a really simple structure) and then it is possible to visualize the information in colorful animations, just like in the movies.

Re:In Time? (2, Interesting)

alfredos (1694270) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352484)

I think the answer is "no". Which takes us back to the summary: The NSF has allocated compute hours. Nothing else. Therefore it's just a piece of the whole thing, and the other pieces (the simulation itself, getting reliable data to feed it -see GIGO [wikipedia.org] -, etc) are orders of magnitude more complex.

Re:In Time? (1)

fregare (923563) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352588)

Come on does it really matter what the scientists do? Super computers are supposed to do all sorts of stuff. Who cares whether the simulation is right wrong or indifferent. Hey scientists (idiots) are working. Remember just because it's science doesn't mean its not bullshit. Right now all these microprocessor based supercomputers are designed to make sales. Seymour Cray was right with this designs. The current parallel crap microprocessor work really well simulating the simulating test program. This is what I call progress ==> The purpose of a parallel microprocessor computer is to test the parallel simulation software. This is progress !!!

Re:In Time? (2, Informative)

squidfood (149212) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352958)

I don't know about the GOM specifically, but models of oceanography of most regions around the U.S. have been under development, availability, testing, and use for quite a while, and substantial toolkits exist, so it's just a matter of putting some fluid of the right density in the right place and getting present starting conditions. The crunch is really getting the computer time to run the models which is what the new money addresses.

And yes, there's also a lot of graphical toolboxes [ucar.edu] so whipping together a quick display isn't B-movie territory (though using VB is contraindicated: Xwindows and fortran are preferred).

Re:In Time? (1)

excelsior_gr (969383) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353742)

I don't know what the oceanography codes can do, but for simulating the movement of a liquid in another liquid (oil in water) using CFD (as I would expect) one would probably need a surface tracking or capturing algorithm. Now, this can range from "pretty easy" to "freaking hard" depending on the accuracy needed. Maybe getting a rough idea of the direction in which the oil will move is not that complicated. Using COMSOL would give results pretty fast, but I the article does not say what they are using and I don't know how COMSOL performs on a cluster. However it does say that their resolution is down to 50 to 40 meters, which is pretty fine I guess, so maybe we are looking at a rather custom code. I am curious in watching the results...

Re:In Time? (1)

Machtyn (759119) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353104)

Perhaps the Gulf of Mexico weather and current patterns have already been developed and modeled for the computer system. If so, they'll borrow/buy that work and enter their numbers and data.

Simplistic, I know, but it could happen. Still, it took 30+ days for the oil to reach New Orleans. They've got a little bit of time to model this stuff out and give disaster areas a bit of warning. (About as effective as a tornado warning can be.)

Re:In Time? (3, Informative)

Bill Barth (49178) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353246)

The code in question (ADCIRC) has been used for years to do hurricane storm surge simulations. It's being continuously developed for work in the Gulf of Mexico and already includes contaminant transport effects. Also, as with all things scientific, "right" is a relative quantity. The better question is whether or not useful predictions can be made that are better than what's been done so far. I think the answer to that is a resounding "Yes!" Finally, I guarantee that this event will be used by modelers to refine and improve their codes for years to come. Recent hurricances (Ike, Rita, Gustav, etc.) have been used in the very same way.

Re:In Time? (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353470)

NAVOCEANO is already running a highly complex simulation of the gulfs currents, tides and weather systems. It would only be a matter of adding the modeling of the oil.

Offtopic (4, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352270)

Explain something to me: you people bitch about government getting involved with private industry, yet when BP screws up, you demand the government to take over. WTF?

You want the government to take over...ok, what do you expect them to do? BP has the equipment, the government does not.

You all want the government to step in...yet you don't want them to raise the liability cap. So...you want taxpayers to pay for cleaning up a private company's mess, then?

Shifting gears...

This is NOT a reason to stop offshore drilling. Offshore drilling is an essential part of our current energy use. What this is, however, is a good reason to reinforce laws surrounding safety and preparedness standards...and make sure they are fucking followed.

Re:Offtopic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32352336)

There is a difference between asking governments not to mess around with things they don't even understand (net neutrality, copyrights, etc) and making companies such as BP liable for environmental disasters such as this one.

The government should hire all they can to contain and control the situation and make BP pay for it, since BP won't act on their own to minimize profits damages instead of environmental damages.

Re:Offtopic (2, Informative)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352424)

The government should hire all they can to contain and control the situation

They already have (and have had) a page set up specifically for this [whitehouse.gov] .

and make BP pay for it, since BP won't act on their own to minimize profits damages instead of environmental damages.

They are trying to, but many Republicans are blocking legislation to raise or remove the liability cap [foxbusiness.com] .

Re:Offtopic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32353488)

Get rid of everything you own that was either made from or made possible by oil then you can bitch about legislation who's sole purpose is to put an oil company out of business.

Shuttles will blow up, planes will crash, and oil will leak. It's the price of having all the conveniences you would never even contemplate doing without. BP has said they will take responsibility for the cleanup. We got a long way to go before we know if they're going to hold to their word.

Re:Offtopic (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#32354302)

who's sole purpose is to put an oil company out of business.

No, it's sole purpose is to make sure they keep their word.

BP has said they will take responsibility for the cleanup. We got a long way to go before we know if they're going to hold to their word.

This will ensure they keep their word. If they have already agreed to pay, what's the harm in making that statement legally binding?

Re:Offtopic (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#32357182)

Uh, dude, ex post facto laws are unconstitutional. Unfortunately, BP skates out of this one because of legislative mistakes the past (I'll bet that "emergency fund" looked like a mighty convenient raiding target...). The proper thing to do is to change things so that liability is properly apportioned in the future, not create a constitutional crisis that if popular enough could significantly erode fundamental protections.

Re:Offtopic (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352340)

The government should manage it, the company should pay. That would keep the motives separate, anyway. Not that we really want to put something as slow as a government in charge. But it might prove to be better than a corporation.

Re:Offtopic (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352370)

That's what they are already doing, though [whitehouse.gov] ...what else do you want from them?

Re:Offtopic (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32352872)

Do you happen to have a non-propaganda news source? America's answer to Pravda is hardly what most people would consider credible.

Re:Offtopic (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353048)

You could listen to hearings on C-SPAN, in which BP execs acknowledge the government's role in assisting them. Or you could just Google for the information yourself.

No offense, but the fact that you are convinced that the White House is lying about having boots on the ground in the Gulf leads me to believe you likely get your info from a regular News Org, yes?

C-SPAN all the way. Direct from the horse's mouth, no filter.

Re:Offtopic (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32353236)

Oh, I have no doubt that the WH has "boots on the ground," as you say. I also have no doubt that the WH also has "boots under the beds" of execs from just about every sector including energy, media, finance, and automotive.

Re:Offtopic (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353254)

I'm not denying that...in fact, I would agree with you.

Regardless, the poster asked for proof that the administrationw as actually doing something, and I provided it. ::shrug::

Re:Offtopic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32352392)

Yes. Mouth-breathing bureaucrats are experts in all things - especially in oil-spill clean-ups. I nominate the Census Bureau. Their habit of hiring, firing, and re-hiring the same employees multiple times to rig job creation statistics for the Dept. of Labor speaks volumes about the competence of government...

Re:Offtopic (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352416)

If you want it to be terribly inefficient and slow then, yes, the government should manage it. If you want the work done to a standard, then the government should have oversight, defined as regulatory supervision, and let BP and its contractors do the work.

Re:Offtopic (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 3 years ago | (#32354070)

Who the hell in the government has the deep drilling experience to be able to understand the issues (and scale) at hand?! I would have hoped that the government would have watched over BP and made sure the booms were being done properly, but my guess is that the under-water problem is much more severe than anything you really see at the surface.

Re:Offtopic (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32352408)

fuck you, drill baby driller

50% of the offshore oil is sold to foreign countries

go pout somewhere else

Re:Offtopic (4, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352450)

Proof that a moderate such as myself will never be labeled as such.

I'm for offshore drilling because it provides us with the energy source that we currently need today. I'm also in favor of extensively researching and quickly implementing alternative fuels so that we can get away from oil entirely.

With me, it isn't "drill, baby, drill"...it's "drill for now, but not for long". Thanks for your partisan slant though, I appreciate it.

Re:Offtopic (4, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352772)

Proof that a moderate such as myself will never be labeled as such.

I'm for offshore drilling because it provides us with the energy source that we currently need today. I'm also in favor of extensively researching and quickly implementing alternative fuels so that we can get away from oil entirely.

With me, it isn't "drill, baby, drill"...it's "drill for now, but not for long". Thanks for your partisan slant though, I appreciate it.

You often see this in discussions. I think the propaganda, demagoguery, invective, and intellectual dishonesty so frequently seen in the media and especially in politics has infected the easily impressionable who derive their mannerisms and actions from the media. You can call them sheeple, mindless automatons who think their behaviors and thoughts are their own original creations, easily impressionable, non-self-aware, unable to carry out introspection, followers, and lots of other things. As for that post to which you replied, what happened there has happened to me several times.

The (lack of) thinking goes something like this: "well, he used certain words or otherwise vaguely sounds a little bit like a cookie-cutter opinion that I have seen before, probably from some pundit, therefore I will refuse to deal with him as an individual and will instead regard him as a member of a school of thought or other group identity, that way I don't have to bother really listening to what he has to say or understanding where he is coming from." You'll notice this is always done to condemn and belittle, for that's how such people obtain their worthless sense of worth. Specifically, it's an attempt to diminish in order to make it easier to condemn. It treats people as members of a system and it's the very opposite of treating others like human beings.

The motivation is that they are not interested in truth. They are interested in feeling "right" or better than someone else at all costs. For them, argumentation is not about testing ideas and increasing understanding. It's about humiliating your opponent and rubbing his nose in it. Thus, they have no interest in dealing with individual human beings for, unlike mindless talking points, there are no automatic ready answers for the points they make. That interferes with their goal of feeling "right" and at the very least makes them work much harder to achieve it.

In closing, a quote from Aristotle:

Hubris: "to cause shame to the victim, not in order that anything may happen to you, nor because anything has happened to you, but merely for your own gratification. Hubris is not the requital of past injuries; this is revenge. As for the pleasure in hubris, its cause is this: men think that by ill-treating others they make their own superiority the greater."

Re:Offtopic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32355946)

I'm willing to bet this was modded up simply because people didn't understand it.

Re:Offtopic (2, Insightful)

Lithdren (605362) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352554)

Odvious troll is odvious but I thought i'd add a comment. Its all togeather possible the people demanding the Goverment take over the situation are not the same people who want the goverment out of private industry. Its quite possible people are saying what they fell on one subject, while steering clear of the other one, that would contradict their original feeling. Imagine that!

Re:Offtopic (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352578)

While I don't post on them, I frequent the Fox News, Politico, and a few other political forums. From what I've seen on them (and from the few hard-right folks that I know in real life), they are many of the same people.

Re:Offtopic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32353180)

Then again, there are idiots out there protesting against big government, waving signs that say they want the government to keep their hands off of their medicare....

Re:Offtopic (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#32354830)

Its all togeather possible the people demanding the Goverment take over the situation are not the same people who want the goverment out of private industry.

Well, not in some cases: [washingtonpost.com]

"Today is Day 36" since the well's drilling rig exploded, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said Tuesday during a hearing on offshore drilling liability. "The cloud of confusion over how much oil is spilling into the gulf is very concerning. And it's also very unclear who was in charge."

Republicans are seeking to erode voter confidence in Obama's leadership by portraying him as lackadaisical in his response -- similar to the crippling effect of Hurricane Katrina for President George W. Bush. GOP lawmakers also are making a case that Obama is too cozy with the oil industry to apply maximum pressure on BP, a theory advanced by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin (R) on "Fox News Sunday."

"I don't know why the question isn't asked by the mainstream media and others if there's any connection with the contributions made to President Obama and his administration and the support by the oil companies to the administration," Palin said.

I dunno, maybe Wyoming went red-state and Palin switched sides while I wasn't looking because I didn't notice "Drill Baby Drill" in any of their remarks this time.

Re:Offtopic (1)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352564)

This is NOT a reason to stop offshore drilling. Offshore drilling is an essential part of our current energy use. What this is, however, is a good reason to reinforce laws surrounding safety and preparedness standards...and make sure they are fucking followed.

If you haven't noticed, there are forces in our government that don't want us to be a strong, stable, well-managed, independent country. It would interfere with their desire to undermine our national sovereignty in order to accelerate globalism and all of the financial and political power that goes with it. It's not so much that our leaders are incompetent, it's that their interests do not coincide with ours. If they were merely incompetent then they couldn't do such a great job of increasing their own power and looking after their own interests and the interests of their financial backers.

I fully agree with you about the safety and preparedness standards. Protecting workers from exploitation by their employers is a legitimate function of modern government, especially when we are talking about violations and abuses that result in workers getting killed. It reminds me of that mine collapse that occurred several months ago, killing the miners trapped inside with toxic gases. The mining company had repeatedly violated established safety standards and their negligence resulted in the deaths of miners. The reasonable solution to this is to arrest the executives of that company and put them on trial for manslaughter.

That's what needs to happen here with the oil spill and the workers who died when the rig exploded. Had the company taken all reasonable precautions and made a best-effort to ensure the safety of its workers, then unfortunately tragic events happen and cannot be completely prevented and that's understandable. The moment negligence enters the picture, they are choosing to sacrifice human life for the sake of profit. Prison is where people like that belong. Don't bother fining the company, just put the executives on trial for allowing this to happen. That's how you make sure the standards are followed. So long as management remains untouchable and is never made personally and severely accountable for their actions we will continue to have deliberate abuses like this.

Re:Offtopic (2, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353036)

You want the government to take over...ok, what do you expect them to do? BP has the equipment, the government does not.

First off, whoever modded you offtopic should have his moderator priveledges taken away.

Now to the actual topic: Government shouldn't take over, but they'd damned well better show some oversight, and make sure that BP is following all laws to the letter. They may have the equipment, but they don't have the motivation -- their only motivation is to rake in profits, or the "accident" wouldn't have happened.

Obama needs to fire the head of the agency overseeing this; the regulators are, according to newspaper accounts, in bed with those they are regulating.

Personally (and I think a lot will agree) someone high up in BP ranks should spend some hard prison time over this. Of course, the people who own the mine that exploded a month or so ago should be in prison for manslaughter or negligent homicide, since they were sited time and again for the very things that caused the explosion.

Why aren't corporate heads ever put in prison for negligent homicide when the company disobeys laws and people die?

Re:Offtopic (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353102)

Why aren't corporate heads ever put in prison for negligent homicide when the company disobeys laws and people die?

The insight shown in the rest of your post leads me to believe you don't actually need that question answered "out loud" :-)

Re:Offtopic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32353302)

from http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/05/gulf_oil_exports.html [americanprogress.org]

GOM region produces 2.7M bbl/day. 43% of this is from offshore drilling (1.2M bbl/day). Of this 40% is exported to foreigners, leaving 697K bbl/day.

The US uses 20.68M bbl/day

This means that this "essential" GOM offshore drilling quenches 3.3% of our oil thirst. Essential? No. It is your dietary equivalent of something that provides you with 50 calories daily.

Re:Offtopic (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#32354358)

Like I said, I am 100% for improving and incorporating alternative energy sources into our overall energy plan...but even if we started doing that in earnest tomorrow, we will still be relying on oil for some years to come. The more we can produce here, the less money we will be giving to nations that support people who hate us. 3.3% may not be much, but it's still something.

Re:Offtopic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32356556)

and it's extremely risky, even the money hungry oil companies will admit that. At those temperatures, pressures, and depths (out of reach of most human interaction), the oil companies admit (now) that there is simply no safe way to drill -- there are simply too many problems for our current science to reliably deal with. So they expect problems, and routinely see blowouts, cement failures (due to the exotic cement slurry required unlike land drilling). The routine problems and failures normally aren't an all out disaster. Does that make it any less reckless? Firing a gun in the air normally doesn't result in any problems. You OK with just letting anyone and everyone do that whenever they want?

So really, was it worth it, to America, to the beaches, to the industries that rely on clean gulf water, to gamble? For 3.3%? How about we just extract 3.3% more from ANWR, or buy 3.3% more from Canada or some other friendlies. Where is the line? If we can harvest 0.1% more oil by drilling near a major aquifer (where well failure would result in poisoning millions of people's water) would that be acceptable to you?

Re:Offtopic (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 3 years ago | (#32357148)

3.3% may not be much, but it's still something.

The question is, is that something worth the risks involved in expanding deep water drilling? IMHO, unless the regulatory structure surrounding the industry is *massively* overhauled, I'd say the clear answer to that is "no", as neither the companies nor the regulatory bodies can be trusted to preserve the coastlines, which are the economic lifeblood for many many people, people who would be far more damaged by destroyed coastlines than the absence of that 3.3%.

That said, I don't think it makes any sense to halt existing operations. I'm just not convinced that *expanding* offshore drilling is a good idea.

Re:Offtopic (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353724)

Obviously you've never been rich. The way to get rich is to gamble with other people's money, and if you win, keep the profits, but if you lose, get somebody else to pay the losses. The history of the very rich is full of examples of this, e.g. the Hunt brothers. It used to be fashionable to leave the banks holding the bag when you gambled and lost; your corporation simply declared bankruptcy leaving you with no personal liability. Lately it seems to have become fashionable to leave the government holding the bag when you gamble and lose. BP/TransOcean/Haliburton gambled and lost. Yes, by Libertarian free market principles, they should have to absorb the complete costs of cleaning up this mess that they have made -- even if it drives all three into bankruptcy. Ideally they should go after the personal fortunes of the decision makers as well.

Re:Offtopic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32354226)

A whole bunch of un-American thoughts there.

Seize personal assets? Sounds, I don't know, socialist?

Condemn corporate greed? Sounds, I don't know, liberal? Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, for knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed, you mark my words, will not only save the Gulf of Mexico, but that other malfunctioning corporation called British Petroleum. Thank you very much.

Now somebody clean up this oil spill, I've got a plane to Acapulco to catch.

Re:Offtopic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32355538)

off shore drilling really has fucked up our oceans fuck them they fucked it up again

Re:Offtopic (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#32357130)

Responsibility and liability are two different things, and worse, the Federal government already limited BP's liability through previous legislation.

But the Responsibility for protecting the *coast* rests ultimately, on whoever actually wants the coast to be protected. The residents, for sure, many of the rest of us, as well. In that regard, if certain youtube [youtube.com] videos can be considered representative, the governments at all levels up to the federal have been as negligent as BP: It's been spewing for like a month now, how long does it take to ramp up production on a few hundred miles of thin plastic film??? Or hire and equip every fireboom capable vessel in the Atlantic basin?

Sadly, BP seems to be interested in not spending a whole lot of money, and the federal government is drooling over a gasoline tax hike.

You can't just say, "It's BP's fault, let them take care of it," even when it is BP's fault. Liability only tells you who pays for the mess, it doesn't limit who can/must act to mitigate it.

Re:Offtopic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32357556)

Another example of an energy company not following safety standards was last year in Toronto. A propane distribution plant, i think, blew up in the city. Sky high fireball. Here's the youtube link.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__1Ym_F94CE&feature=related
All because they weren't following proper safety protocols and nobody cared. Given the slack behavior some time, disaster found it's moment to strike.

You haven't really thought this through, have you? (1)

Renegade Iconoclast (1415775) | more than 3 years ago | (#32357730)

> This is NOT a reason to stop offshore drilling. Offshore drilling is an essential part of our current energy use. What this is, however, is a good reason to reinforce laws surrounding safety and preparedness standards...and make sure they are fucking followed.

Well, that sounds reasonable. But, then, as you pointed out:

> You want the government to take over...ok, what do you expect them to do? BP has the equipment, the government does not.

So.... ummm.... hmmm. I'm stumped. How exactly is regulator Joe going to make sure that there is a proper gasket on a blowout preventer, 1 mile beneath the ocean's surface? What's he gonna do, swim down there and take a look?

As for offshore drilling being "an essential part of our current energy use," do you have a cite for that? Let's say for the sake of argument that this article [seekingalpha.com] is correct. The total amount of oil below the gulf is perhaps 18 billion barrels. We use 8 billion barrels a year. Furthermore, BP is under no obligation to even sell us the oil that they collect! How does this translate to something that's extremely necessary for our energy needs?

BP didn't drill the well as a charity to the US, they did it for their own profit.

BIG OIL does merit anti-offshore drilling laws (1)

keneng (1211114) | more than 3 years ago | (#32359706)

I read somewhere that BP’s oil spill disaster is a perfect example of the complete failure of self regulating capitalism. Currently, the US government allows oil companies to regulate themselves. The U.S. government is demanding more accountability from BP with regards to the the cleanup.
Throughout history, engineers and scientists make mistakes and it has always been that everyone else pays for those mistakes. These guys have to be held more accountable for the SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCES of their mistakes, because they didn't reflect enough before executing an action plan. Engineers do have some courses in university that train them to reflect about engineering impact. I guess there wasn't enough training. I'm disappointed about the banking industry also, but they are also engineers in the financial sense. The banking industry managed to experiment with the oldest ways of bartering, buying, selling, and borrowing and managed to get everyone else pay for those mistakes.
I also read somewhere the OIL SPILL CONSEQUENCES: 150 MILE DAMAGE AND GROWING AND IMPOSSIBLE TO REMOVE
This disaster's environmental and economic consequences are at this point immeasurable.
The spill's impact now stretches across a 150-mile swath, from Dauphin Island, Ala. to Grand Isle, La.
Once the spill enters the Gulf loop current, it enters the Atlantic Ocean and heads for Europe. An oil spill plume 10 miles long and 3 miles wide is heading for the Gulf of Mexico loop current. The loop current is a ribbon of warm water that begins in the Gulf of Mexico and wraps around Florida. Like the oil, the loop's position is constantly changing based on winds and currents. The Coast Guard forecasts the oil arriving in the Florida Keys Monday May 24th, 2010.
***The effect on wildlife and the economy will be catastrophic.
***The gooey oil washing into the marshes along the Gulf Coast proves IMPOSSIBLE TO REMOVE, leaving a toxic stew lethal to fish and wildlife.

If something is impossible to remove and is caused by a human mistake in offshore drilling, it is reason enough to make it law. We're human after all. We will make mistakes and nothing is going to stop that. One good way to prevent these mistakes from happening is to ensure the presidents, owners and shareholders live on the oil rig 24/7 offshore and onshore. I would like to see their reaction to this. It would also imply their families would also live there. I would love to see them share in the joy of having an oil rig in their backyard and swimming beach.

As a result, BIG OIL companies do merit anti-offshore drilling laws because if we let them continue making catastrophies like this, regular citizens won't have free places to enjoy the natural coastline with ducks, marshes, frogs, pelicans, shrimp etc...

Re:Offtopic (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#32360698)

This is NOT a reason to stop offshore drilling. Offshore drilling is an essential part of our current energy use. What this is, however, is a good reason to reinforce laws surrounding safety and preparedness standards...and make sure they are fucking followed.

"This" is not a reason to stop offshore drilling; the very concept should not have been employed at our current technological level. And really, it should never have been employed. We have enough desert and sufficient technology to replace all our offshore drilling with biodiesel from algae. Once you realize that, you have to understand that the idea is simply immoral. It's about profit, plain and simple; there's money to be made doing it, so we will do it whether it is actually beneficial to the human race or not.

Hum! (1)

csueiras (1461139) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352284)

What sort of model is this? A particle tracking model such as ROMS? As far as I know these models aren't sooo computer intensive, but I imagine its probably dealing with a huge dataset and probably long term forecasting? If anyone has any answers I would be glad to see them.

Um... (1)

cvnautilus (1793340) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352312)

How do they make a 3d model of the oil spill when they STILL have no idea how much oil is actually spilling?

Re:Um... (4, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352324)

Rest assured...someone knows. It just isn't us. BP likely knows, which is (from their perspective) a good reason why we don't.

Re:Um... (3, Informative)

confused one (671304) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352454)

The models might actually be a good way to verify the estimates. Is it 5,000 barrels a day (not) or 30,000-70,000 barrels (within the realm of possibility). We know it's not 5,000 because they're pumping it out now at 5,000 (with the 4" pipe the inserted into the riser) and they haven't had much effect on the outflow.

Re:Um... (1)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353390)

They're pumping out 5K barrels of oil/water mixture, that's a pretty big difference.

Re:Um... (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356612)

Sure. I havent' dug into the details; but, as I understood it, they stuck a 4" pipe into a 21" riser which had oil and gas flowing out under some pressure. They're drawing oil up through the 4" pipe at a fairly high rate. I'd expect there to be some water intrusion, there is more than one breach in the riser. If the 4" pipe is inside the riser a fair way, (it's 5' long according to BP's site) I'd expect it to be picking up mostly oil.

Re:Um... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32352612)

holy shit. are you kidding?
they know the diameter of the pipe, they know what the well was producing when it was connected, and they have modeled flow estimates, tracking eddys with fancy software. without the aid of BP, aside from providing footage.

it's a short path from data to model, when NSF and TACC get together.

there are finally some visibility of an attempt to understand what dynamics are in play here, and i for one am glad Dan is involved.

A giant add for silverlight? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32352378)

I woulda thunk MS was beyond paying people to do that type of shit in the middle of something horrible like this!

Good for initial estimates, that is all. (1)

masterwit (1800118) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352396)

"I don't think that they have any idea how this oil is predicted to move through the marshes and the nearshore zone," said Luettich.

I understand that "nearshore" zones may be hard to predict: I wonder if that map [computerworld.com] (see white line) shows how close to shore they can predict...

Also this may be used as a forecast model, but to me it seems like measuring and predicting a hurricane while ignoring storm surge...but I am not going to be critical with little knowledge on what data was available to the programmers.

Re:Good for initial estimates, that is all. (1)

Bill Barth (49178) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353168)

The model itself can get quite close to shore (much closer than the pixel-level resolution of that tiny map you linked to), includes wetting and drying of land regions, and has been used to predict (in both forecasting and hindcasting modes) hurricane storm surge.

Re:Good for initial estimates, that is all. (1)

masterwit (1800118) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353512)

Many of the computer models tracking the oil spill have resolutions of 500 meters to a kilometer, but the model being created on the Texas supercomputer can bring the detail down to a resolution of 50 to 40 meters, which is fine enough to show, for instance, simulations of currents moving up channels, said Dawson.

I need to work my reading comprehension skills haha (I'm up to a third grade level now!) Also...

The project is getting a "high priority," said another researcher, Clint Dawson, a professor of aerospace engineering and engineering mechanics at the University of Texas. "What our model can do that a lot of the other models can't do is actually track the oil spill up into marshes and the wetlands because we have fine-scale resolution in those areas."

Tracking and predicting are two different sets of challenges in my opinion. I applaud the attempt to forecast and use models to hopefully mitigate damage, but I am still skeptical on how they will model the oil after it has already hit the marshes outside of tide patterns... I guess we will just have to wait and see :)

Photos of Louisiana Shores (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32352460)

I caught this link a day or two ago. Take a look. [boston.com]

Re:Photos of Louisiana Shores (1)

masterwit (1800118) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352660)

Someone mod this post up...those photos were amazing and really are worth viewing! I found the aerial pictures of the oil booms really interesting, thanks AC!

Re:Photos of Louisiana Shores (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32353416)

Sigh... what a fucking waste of time, energy, and resources this all is. Those photos are depressing especially of the kid's foot with oil on it.

I wish I was seeing more photos of proper fucking booming [dailykos.com] than feel-good animal cleaning. I found this article [spiegel.de] on the survival rates of birds that were cleaned and released.

Re:Photos of Louisiana Shores (1)

colonelquesadilla (1693356) | more than 3 years ago | (#32358630)

no offense but I consider spiegel.de about as trustworthy as fox news, just the other end of the spectrum, if you ever want a seriously critical (sometimes overly so) look at german media go to medienkritik.typepad.com

Compute Hours? (4, Informative)

adbge (1693228) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352492)

For those unfamiliar with a "compute hour", the supercomputer in question is capable of 63,000 compute hours per hour. To put this into perspective, the NSF seems to have allocated about 15 hours of supercomputer time to this project. 15 hours is, of course, not nearly as sensational as 1 million compute hours. ;)

Re:Compute Hours? (1)

meatpan (931043) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352876)

The 1 million hour quota seems even smaller when you consider the nature of the simulation. Computational fluid dynamics simulations rely on super-linear performing algorithms, so a quick & dirty modeling effort would need to drastically reduce the amount of data and number of variables considered.

Re:Compute Hours? (1)

Bill Barth (49178) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353054)

The simulation is currently running on about 4k cores which is about 244 hours or 10 days worth of simulation. Each of the simulations they're running is about 10 hours in length, so this is enough for about 24 forecasts.

Re:Compute Hours? (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353738)

"compute hour", also known as "CPU time" vs say, "wallclock time".

Re:Compute Hours? (1)

Bill Barth (49178) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353886)

I should have pointed out above that we measure in wall-clock time not CPU time. Most of these codes don't spend much time waiting on I/O, so the two numbers are usually close. We use wall-clock time because that is the time that the user monopolizes the nodes that are assigned to their job.

Re:Compute Hours? (1)

jsepeta (412566) | more than 3 years ago | (#32355272)

i wonder if there would be a better way of us DONATING our unused cycles to the project. because 15 hours kind of sucks.

Tar Ball (4, Funny)

c0d3r (156687) | more than 3 years ago | (#32352512)

They should make a big Tar Ball containing the build of the software they write that performs this analysis.

Could be the software you use on Linux/BSD (1)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353284)

I wouldn't be surprised if they are using off the shelf tools like FFTW on that supercomputer. It was just yesterday I was amazed at IBM featuring FFTW3 binaries and sources for BlueGene, just like some laptop support software from their website.

I can't find the URL (which I saw on IBM) now but, as you see from here http://www.complang.tuwien.ac.at/skral/fftwgel.html [tuwien.ac.at] , it is just 2.7 mb ordinary tar.gz file, builds on PowerPC 440. Of course, number of PPC 440's it runs on is what matters :)

Typical Academic Response: Late (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32352542)

by about one month; hundreds of billions of dollars in damages; and untold environmental impact.

In case you aren't aware of it, B.P. stands for
British Petroleum ( the company behind the U.S.
INTERFERENCE in IRAN). Prosecute B.P. under
R.I.C.O. [wikipedia.org] ; seize ALL of their U.S. assets; and send their "executive" to hard labor.

Of course this won't happen because the guilty would include current and former government "officials".

Yours In Novosibirsk,
Kilgore T., C.I.O.

Epic reading voice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32352706)

Did anyone else read that summary and instantly start using an epic newscaster voice in their head?

the good jokes (sry, mildly offtopic) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32353162)

ok, I admit, the Spill has my spirits very low. I live no where near the Gulf and it depresses the shit out of me that even if I did, I couldn't do anything about it. I can't believe that we have to rely on the fuckups that caused this to stop it, and clean it. All Big Oil that wants to drill in the Gulf should be in there, doing what they can to clean it.

Anyway, the good jokes don't make light of the Spill. The Spill isn't funny. There's just no joy there. The good jokes target the fuckups that caused it, killed all those people, killed all those whales and porpoise, spoiled all those fish, killed generations of mollusk, starved all those pelican, destroyed all those wetlands, and poisoned all that open ocean, and then ran a hush campeign to stem the damage against themselves, and are likely still lying their asses off. For some reason those jokes are much funnier, because they deserve the ridicule; they made themselves look foolish.

Unfortunately for anyone that cares, but especially unfortunate for the Life in the Gulf, BP didn't just fuck themselves, they fucked everything that is alive in the Gulf, and everything that lives near its perimeters. So even those jokes aren't as funny.

I'm so sorry... this is how unfunny I am about this... If ever there was a reason for me personally to commit protest suicide... this is it. But there's no point in it... it's not like everyone else isn't upset too, or that no one knows what's happening... the attention is on this, the world is already watching, already knows that the worst of this is still coming, more life will be extinguished from this than has already been...

I'm very upset.

Where's Bruce Willis when you need him? (1)

ConfrontationalGrayh (1199233) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353174)

We need to get Bruce Willis to command a submarine down to the bottom of the ocean and seal the leak with a nuke!

Re:Where's Bruce Willis when you need him? (2, Interesting)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#32354408)

Well, maybe not a nuke. But how about a large rubberized canvas funnel connected to a hose to the surface?

Oh, and why don't oil rigs have a large containment boom around them in the first place?

Re:Where's Bruce Willis when you need him? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#32355064)

how about a large rubberized canvas funnel connected to a hose to the surface?

Basically that was one of the first things they tried [csmonitor.com] : "If successful, the containment box would begin funneling as much as 85 percent of the oil plume into a pipeline pumping the oil into a barge on the surface as early as Sunday." That was May 7.

As for the boom, A) they're not working all that well and B) with the well a mile underwater, it could disperse over a huge area before reaching the surface.

Should be interesting. (1)

Snodgrass (446409) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353548)

This will probably be a big, complex simulation. It will be interesting to see how well it matches up with reality.

How does this help? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#32353620)

The effects of the spill will suck, and will suck for a long time (the halibut still have not returned to the area around the Exxon Valdez spill). How will knowing in advance just how badly it will suck help? Are they going to take some remediation efforts as a result of this simulation that they wouldn't have otherwise? They claim they are already doing everything they can... how can we expect them to do even more?

Re:How does this help? (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 3 years ago | (#32357328)

The effects of the spill will suck, and will suck for a long time (the halibut still have not returned to the area around the Exxon Valdez spill). How will knowing in advance just how badly it will suck help?

By understanding how the oil will diffuse and spread in the ocean, they can direct cleanup efforts to areas that are likely to be hit hardest. There are, after all, a finite number of people, booms (yes, even fucking booms), etc, so optimizing their allocation is important.

in case anyone needs a good show (1)

nimbius (983462) | more than 3 years ago | (#32354048)

NPR has posted the live-feed of the leak, and the topkill procedure on their website. so far its not working. i know, i know, off topic.

Simulate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32354388)

I didn't read TFA but what's up with this crazy dumb ass idea of simulating the effects of the disaster that has been going on for a while? Just sit by the shore and watch.

What a waste of time and talent!

Re:Simulate? (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 3 years ago | (#32356092)

It's called science you ignorant shit. I know a large portion of the population can't handle the concept of research, but do try to at least stay off of slashdot.

Re:Simulate? (1)

colonelquesadilla (1693356) | more than 3 years ago | (#32358686)

well for starters, say you have sattelite photos of what the oil slick looks like, for the past several weeks. Back in the dark ages of slipsticks and vacuum tubes you would have a couple of really smart people to to a chalk board, draw lines tracing the photos, and try to think where is this shit going to hit land worst, what are the bird/fish/etc populations, how do we minimize damage. Now, together with NOAA and USGS you can do a CFD simulation, try to get much better estimates, allocate resources better for the cleanup. You are still fucked in the ass, but it might not bleed so bad.
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