When all else fails, bring in the scientists

WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, BRING IN THE SCIENTISTS….. It sounds a bit like the script of a Hollywood blockbuster, but I’m pretty sure Bruce Willis will not be joining this team.

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu signaled his lack of confidence in the industry experts trying to control BP Plc’s leaking oil well by hand-picking a team of scientists with reputations for creative problem solving.

Dispatched to Houston by President Barack Obama to deal with the crisis, Chu said Wednesday that five “extraordinarily intelligent” scientists from around the country will help BP and industry experts think of back-up plans to cut off oil from the well, leaking 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) below sea-level.

Members of the Chu team are credited with accomplishments including designing the first hydrogen bomb, inventing techniques for mining on Mars and finding a way to precisely position biomedical needles.

In the wake of the unsuccessful “dome” effort, Chu has tasked this team to develop “plan B, C, D, E and F,” while looking for solutions to stop the oil from gushing into the Gulf.

Looking over these scientists’ backgrounds, they look like a pretty creative bunch. Here’s hoping for the best.

On a related note, Chu has also crafted a plan to use gamma rays to better understand the geologic nature of this specific leak. The Energy Secretary was asked yesterday how in the world he knew about gamma rays. He replied:

“Because I’m a physicist. And I dabble in many areas of physics. I did experiments when I was a graduate student on weak interactions, which are the forces of nuclear decay. And so I kept in my brain certain nuclear sources and what their energies were and I knew what the ranges were for how penetrating gamma rays could be. Very high-energy gamma rays can penetrate several inches of steel.”

This is the latest installment in the “This Isn’t The Bush Administration” chronicles.