You Tell Me

June 30th, 2010

Dr. Kiki’s Science Hour just reached its one year anniversary… yay!!!

What do I do now?

Well, I’d love you to tell me. What have you enjoyed about the show over the past year? What are its strong points? What would you like to see more of? Who would you like me to interview? Is there anything I should change?

All these questions, and more, I am asking of you since this show is for you.

To answer these questions and leave comments for me, you can do several things:

  1. send me an email (drkiki at drkiki dot tv),
  2. leave a comment here,
  3. send me a video message through youtube, or
  4. call me and leave me a message (yup, I’m giving you a phone number… 650-741-KIKI).

I will play and read your responses on Dr. Kiki’s Science Hour tomorrow afternoon. This anniversary is about you.

I want to make Dr. Kiki’s Science Hour even better this year, and I would love your help to make it happen.

Watching the Numbers Go By

June 1st, 2010

I became aware of this PBS oil leak widget last week.

There is something mesmerizing about watching the numbers scroll past.

The numbers of gallons leaked is so high at this point that it seems unreal. How did this happen? Why isn’t it fixed yet? Can that really be the low estimate?

I can’t even wrap my brain around the enormity of the disaster. What do the numbers really mean?

So, here are some numbers I’ve calculated as I try to make sense and get perspective:

The low estimate of around 20,414,200 gallons (and rising) is about 486,052 barrels of oil, or 30 Olympic sized swimming pools. This quantity of oil would fill the tanks of approximately 1,360,946 cars, assuming a tank size of 15 gallons. That’s more cars than the number of people who live in San Francisco.

Or, it could fill my car’s tank nearly 1.4 million times. My car gets 25 miles to the gallon on average, and can potentially travel 375 miles on one tank of gas. I could conceivably drive somewhere around 510,355,000 miles with the low estimate of how many gallons have leaked so far. That’s 20,414 times around the earth’s equator, or 2041 times to the moon (or about 1020 round trips).

It’s 93 million miles to the sun, so I could make the round trip there almost two and three-quarters times. And, depending on where Mars is, I could get there and back either 7 times or once.

On the high end of the leak estimates, I’m looking at being able to travel about 4,400,000,000 (that’s 4.4 billion) miles! That could get me to Pluto when it’s at its closest.

Obviously, I know my car couldn’t travel in outer space, but it’s interesting to think of what the oil that’s leaking into the Gulf of Mexico could have done.

The low estimate of the leak is far lower than the amount of oil being produced per day for our consumption, but the high estimate is getting up there… a bit more than China and Iran produce in a day. Interestingly, depending on the estimate you choose to look at, we are either looking at a disaster that is simply two times as large as the Exxon Valdez or something that is somewhere between the first and second worst oil spill in history.

I can only hope that the worst case estimates are not correct, but regardless, this is big and is bound to get bigger until it is fixed. The numbers and constant news reports are mind-numbing, but don’t get complacent.

If it matters to you, make some noise that this is not what you want for your world.