Friday, August 20, 2010

What Would a Critical Analysis of the Oil Spill Require?

The goal of the government with respect to the determination of the extent of the spill would be to arrive at an unbiased estimator of the amount of oil released into the environment. BP is probably entitled to due process when making this estimate. A critical analysis of the raw data would try to remove any systematic error in the process and try to be as exact as possible. An initial analysis may not have to be so critical to provide guidance to the responders. But the lack of a baseline study certainly would complicate the arrival at a final conclusion. Perhaps they should be required in the future.

Rep. Markey asked for a formula used in the oil budget calculator. Fluorescence spectroscopy which was used to measure the concentration of the oil near the well falls under the domain of Quantum Electrodynamics. To determine the transition rates one needs to know the oscillator strength function which is related to the Einstein coefficients. One might be able to adjust the spectroscopy data by subtracting the distribution for Rayleigh scattering to arrive at a better estimate. A study of Raman scattering might confirm results. The analysis requires expert knowledge.

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