26 October 2010

Scientists will deconstruct BP oil spill at Nov. 2 Science Café.


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. —Two petroleum researchers from the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory will discuss what led up to the April 20 Deepwater Horizon disaster and what's happening to the oil still in the Gulf at the Nov. 2 Science Café.

Scientists Ryan Rodgers and Amy McKenna will kick off the conversation at 6:30 p.m. at Ray's Steel City Saloon on John Knox Road. Both have been analyzing oil samples taken from around the Deepwater Horizon spill to determine whether the samples originated from the BP well. Such information helps reveal where the remaining oil is going.

Rodgers will start by reviewing the oil-spill timeline, some of the mistakes made and "what those errors cost, why the rig blew and those people died and why it won't, hopefully, happen again."

"As a scientist, it drives me nuts when people are driven by fear instead of information," said Rodgers, who grew up in Destin and still enjoys fishing.

McKenna will lead the second-half of the café conversation."What people don't realize is that every year in the Gulf, there's a ton of oil that seeps and leaks out naturally onto the sea floor over a large range," said Rodgers.

"I'm going to talk about what happens when petroleum and crude oil are released into the Gulf of Mexico," she said.

Because there is a great deal of naturally occurring oil seepage across the Gulf, the water is teeming with microbes that eat oil products, she said. She'll also discuss whether the microbes have consumed most of the petroleum they're going to eat, and some of the differences between the BP oil spill and the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.

"I think it's really important for the general public to know some of the science behind this spill," said McKenna, who grew up in Clearwater.

If you didn't catch the October Science Café, it was standing room only, so consider arriving around 6 p.m. to snag a seat. Ray's serves more than 100 varieties of beer, as well as other alcoholic drinks and sodas, and offers a wide range of sandwiches and salads, including plenty of vegetarian options. Table service is available during the Café.