Tag: bp’

Spiderman or Socrates?

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

“With great power comes great responsibility.”  Similar quotes can be found all the way back to ancient Greece, like Socrates “rule worthy of might.”

It makes me think of Spiderman.

At any rate, on this Independence Day weekend, as members of the most powerful nation in the world, I think we should all take a moment to reflect on personal responsibility .

We’re a nation of blamers.  We’re all furious at BP.  I rant about the people overfishing our seas and at the farmers feeding antibiotics to animals to make them grow faster, among other things.

But, when I turn the microscope on myself, I see a mom who has spent the week driving her kids from activity to activity, guzzling gas.  I see a foodie who loves eating sushi whenever she gets the chance, not alway checking to see where her fish came from and whether it is sustainable.  I also see someone who occasionally forgets to turn lights off, uses too many paper towels and cleans her toilets with disposable brushes.  That’s only the beginning.

My name is Liz and I’m part of the problem.

What can I do?  I can carpool more and always check where my food is coming from.  I can take two seconds to wring out the dishrag and use it to clean up a mess instead of grabbing a paper towel.  I can take responsibility for my own actions.

What will you do with your great power?

Oil Spill Experiment Revisited

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

I first posted this experiment on May 5, certain that the spill would soon be contained.  Now we know it’s worse than we imagined and no immediate solution is in sight.  If your kids don’t understand why it’s so hard to help the birds, have them try this project.

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is devastating news to the already fragile and damaged ecosystems in the area.  To demonstrate how hard it is to remove oil from water, and what materials work best, I found this experiment online at tryscience.org and decided to have my kids try it.  It was messy and disgusting and oil got all over everything.  In other words, it was a great demonstration of how hard it will be to clean up the mess made by BP’s Deepwater Horizen oil rig, which exploded on April 20th.

Polyester scraps soak up oil.

You’ll need a clear bowl, water, yellow oil (vegetable, corn or canola will work,) cotton balls, cheese cloth, polyester cloth (the website said polypropylene, but I couldn’t find any,) feathers, and a spoon.

Put some water in the bowl and pour in some oil.  I probably added a cup so it would cover the water.  Then, using spoons and the other materials, try to remove the oil from the water.  What works best?

Oil is hard to clean off feathers.

We put our feathers in oil and then tried to clean them off using dish soap and water, which is how they clean off marine birds covered with oil following oil spills.

Polypropylene is a synthetic material made from Carbon and Hydrogen, the same elements in oil.  Oil is attracted to polypropylene, and both float on water, so polypropylene is often used in cleaning up oil spills.  You can also find it in gloves and sock liners.

If one cup of oil is this hard to clean up, can you imagine the mess pouring into the Gulf of Mexico right now, at the rate of about 210,000 gallons a day (according to the New York Times.)  Here is a link to a map that is tracking the spill.