The Science and Technology Behind Cleaning Up an Oil Spill

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An oil slick from the sunk Deepwater Horizon drilling platform is seen off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico.
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Last week’s oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico has resulted not only in lost lives, but in a steady flow of leaking crude oil that could threaten coastal areas, wild life, and marine life. The well head continues to leak about 42,000 gallons of oil per day, or roughly the volume of seven tanker trucks. The slick has spread out over the water and still threatens to drift into Louisiana's marshland. We look at the technologies being enlisted to combat this enormous oil slick. 

Guiding us through the ins and outs of this environmental catastrophe is Dr. James Cowan, professor of oceanography and coastal science at Louisiana State University. We also hear from David Biello, associate editor for Scientific American, who shares his knowledge of the various tools and techniques being brought to bear on this disaster.