Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Special Guest Saul Griffith

This week's question comes from special guest, Dr. Saul Griffith.  In addition to being a 2007 MacArthur Fellow, Saul has received numerous awards for his inventions including the National Inventors Hall of Fame, Collegiate Inventor's award, and the Lemelson-MIT Student prize.  When not inventing, he co-authors children's comic books called HowToons about building your own science and engineering gadgets.  He is also a columnist and contributor to Make and Craft magazines.  Saul writes,

"How many shot glasses of oil per day per person for the average American's personal contribution to the gulf oil spill?"

According to Wikipedia, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill released up to 16,000 m3 of oil per day.  There are roughly 300 million Americans.  One shot glass contains about 60 mL of volume.   From this we can easily compute the contribution per American,

# of shot glasses = (vol. of oil per day) / [ (# of Americans) · (vol. per shot glass)]
= (16,000 m3 per day) / [ (300 million people) · (60 mL)]
= 1.0 glass per day per person.

The oil spill was basically the equivalent of having every American dump a shot glass of oil into the gulf every day.  Thanks for the question, Saul!


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  2. Really interesting, guys.

    Another very impressive 'statistic' is that if the oil spill kept for 2 more months (in a total of 5), all the oil lost would be equivalent to ONE DAY of consumption in the US...

    We are addicted to this black stuff. ;|