Forget the "top hat," the "junk shot," the diamond saws and the "top kill" — one Florida scientist says he's developed a simple solution to the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico: a set of bone-crushingly powerful magnets.
Dr. Rainer Meinke, chief scientist at the Advanced Magnet Lab in Palm Bay, Fla., wants to fill the metal riser belching millions of gallons of crude into the Gulf with extremely powerful magnets to block the flow, MyFoxOrlando.com reported.
These aren't the magnets holding up pictures on your refrigerator. Though they're quite small — the same diameter of a silver dollar and about a half-inch thick — the neodymium boron magnets can do some massive damage if handled incorrectly.
"If you get your thumb between two of these magnets, the forces are really so large that it can crush your bone," Meinke told MyFoxOrlando.
Meinke envisions dropping the small magnets into the riser in the Gulf, where they will naturally cling to the pipe's metal walls. As more are poured in, the magnets would create an unbreakable bond with each other, he said.
"That is the beauty. By themselves, they will seek the right position and they will stick to the steel of the tube," Meinke told the station. "They will automatically, without doing anything, block that thing up."
In a white paper he submitted to the Coast Guard touting the idea, Meinke projected that his magnets will not be washed out by the gushing oil.
"We have calculated what the flow rate and the flow velocity of the oil is. And we have calculated what the drag effect on the magnets is. And you can show that gravity still wins, even at these very large flow rates," he said.
But Meinke's idea is far from being implemented, MyFoxOrlando reported. The Coast Guard would need to fund experiments using his method before giving it the go-ahead and testing it no the oil leak.