the man who saved the gulf of mexico

Meet Paul Hsieh. He's the scientist who saved the Gulf of Mexico. And that grainy photo above? That's how he did it. Seriously: The man who saved the Gulf of Mexico during oil spill crisis... using a single picture from a mobile phone.

According to a new study from the presidential oil spill commission describing what went on behind the scenes during the three-month effort to cap the BP oil spill, the whole thing apparently boils down to a lone scientist -- working from a mobile phone photo -- who saved the day.
BP wanted the cap left in place and the well to stay shut, but government science advisers were firm and near unanimous in wanting the cap removed because of fear of a bigger, more catastrophic spill, the report said.

One scientist took a cell phone picture of pressure readings and e-mailed it to a government researcher in California for advice.

Just using that cell phone photo, Paul Hsieh, a U.S. Geological Survey scientist, created a model to explain what was happening under the cap and how - despite low pressure readings - there was no leak.

He was convinced the containment cap wouldn't blow. He got more data, which bolstered his case.

Hsieh, a research hydrologist who normally works with water, labored through the night without the aid of caffeine. He stayed up all night triple checking calculations, going on adrenaline.

'I just knew a decision had to be made the next day,' he said.

'I had participated in the conference call. I had sensed the tension everyone had and that just kind of kept me going.'

Hsieh laid out his case and it persuaded the other scientists to wait.

The government waited six hours, then a day. Nothing happened. The cap held.

Hsieh turned out to be right.
Daaaamn right. Who knew? A friggin' cell phone photo turned out to be the "game changer" that made all the difference. The report really illustrates how much BP and the federal government were in over their heads on how to handle the disaster. It took a U.S. Geological Survey scientist in California to be the hero. Props, Mr. Hsieh.

UPDATE: Here's a CBC interview with Paul Hsieh: Ending the Gulf leak.

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