• Attention to design details will make buildings withstand hurricanes

    One example of design ideas architects in hurricane-prone regions should follow: design buildings with square, hexagonal, or even octagonal floor plans with roofs of multiple slopes such as a four-sloped hip roof; these roofs perform better under wind forces than the gable roofs with two slopes; gable roofs are common only because they are cheaper to build; research and testing demonstrate that a 30-degree roof slope will have the best results

  • Purdue University membrane technology could help cleanup oil spills

    Purdue University researchers developed a new type of membrane which may be used to clean up oil spills such as BP’s massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico; the technology could be used for a variety of other applications, including water purification and industrial uses

  • Gulf oil spill prompts procedure reassessment in U.K.

    The United Kingdom has created a new body — the Oil Spill Prevention and Response Advisory Group (OSPRAG) — tasked with learning the lessons of the Gulf oil spill and applying them to the U.K. off-shore drilling sector

  • Oregon town plans first tsunami-resistant building on stilts

    Geological findings in recent years suggest there is a one-in-three chance that in the next half century a mega-earthquake will tear the seafloor apart off the Oregon Coast; huge waves would surge onto coastal communities in as little as fifteen minutes; an Oregon city plans tsunami-resistant buildings on stilts

  • Berkeley quake demonstration shows bridge safety ideas

    Researchers demonstrate new bridge design that can withstand powerful earthquakes; the design concept relies on building segmented bridges with seismic isolators between the segments; the design would be particularly useful for long stretches of elevated freeways and high-speed rail lines that often run on elevated tracks

  • Crack-proof concrete developed

    Researchers develop crack-proof concrete; the construction industry has spent decades looking for materials that would not crack when they are used to repair and reinforce older materials, because even hairline cracks can let in pollutants and start disintegrating the concrete; BASF engineers offer a solution

  • Worst-case scenario now appears likely

    The failure of the top kill technology on Friday to cap the gusher for more than a few hours led both BP and the administration to say that the wellhead will continue to release oil and gas into the Gulf until sometime in late August; this means a spill of between 30,000,000 and 40,000,000 gallons (Exxon Valdez released 10.8 million gallons of oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound); Now officials and scientists are worrying that the environmental disaster could be compounded by a natural one. the hurricane season starts today and runs through November, and forecasters expect one of the most turbulent seasons ever

  • BP changes tack on oil spill yet again

    After five different approaches to cap the gusher failed, BP will be trying a sixth method: lower a containment cap over the well to pipe the leaking oil to a drill ship on the surface; so far, approximately 30,000 claims have been submitted and more than 15,000 payments have already been made, totaling some $40 million. BP has received more than 110,000 calls to its help lines to date

  • BP's top kill effort stops oil flow

    BP, using a top kill device, last night managed to stop the flow of gas and oil from the wellhead into the Gulf; commander of U.S. Coast Guard says the company managed to “stabilize the wellhead”

  • New educational page for scientific information on topics related to 2010 oil spill

    University of Miami launches educational Web page for scientific information on topics related to the 2010 Oil Spill; designed for use by teachers, students, and general audiences, the site focuses on the ocean environment

  • Faulty cement plug may have caused oil rig explosion

    As part of the oil drilling process, a cement plug is placed at the bottom of the well in order temporarily to shut it off prior to pumping the oil out; while the cement is drying, mud is loaded into the top of the well to prevent a gas surge; before removing the mud, pressure tests are carried out to ensure the plug is holding; James Dupree, a senior BP official, has claimed that the results of the tests on the Gulf of Mexico plug, carried out on 20 April, were inconclusive — yet the mud was removed

  • Italian-Russian reactor could be the first to achieve self-sustaining fusion

    As the interest in alternatives to fossil fuels grows, so does the interest in nuclear fusion; a Russian-Italian project will build a self-sustaining fusion reactor based on a design by an MIT scientist; the design employs a doughnut-shaped device which uses powerful magnetic fields to produce fusion by squeezing superheated plasma of hydrogen isotopes

  • BP tries new, smaller capping device to plug Gulf gusher

    BP is lowering a new device — the top-hat cofferdam — in an effort to plug the oil leak at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico; the top-hat is a 5-foot-tall, 4-foot-diameter structure and it weighs less than two tons; BP built the smaller dome after a much larger, four-story containment vessel, designed to cap the larger of two leaks in the well, developed glitches Saturday

  • Corps looking at water diversions to protect Louisiana coast

    The recent, 1,000-year Ohio River Valley rain event that is causing so much flooding in Tennessee and Kentucky is expected to make its way into the New Orleans area by 18 May doubling the current Mississippi River flow to 1 million cfs; The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has an idea: diverting the excess water to push water out of sensitive wetland areas and keep away oil that has been drawing near shore since the 20 April explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig

  • The technology behind the Gulf oil spill disaster

    The culprit on the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a device called blowout preventer, or BOP; the Deepwater Horizon’s BOP is a 450-ton set of hydraulic rams that straddles the wellhead, just above the seabed; when the well blew out last month, sending oil and natural gas up the well, signaling from the rig operators or loss of communication with the surface should have automatically released pneumatic pressure stored in the BOP’s tanks, driving it mechanically to crimp or shear off the well pipe and close off the well; for an unknown reason, the BOP sat paralyzed on the sea floor, doing nothing; the disaster exposes over-reliance on blowout preventers that has been long disparaged by industry insiders and outside critics