Bill Nye ‘The Science Guy’ Reviews Ideas For Solving Gulf Coast Oil Spill

CNN iReporters submitted their ideas on how to solve the oil disaster in the Gulf. CNN asked scientist Bill Nye to take a look at them; he found problems with some proposals but merit in others.


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55 Comments on "Bill Nye ‘The Science Guy’ Reviews Ideas For Solving Gulf Coast Oil Spill"

  1. junMungzunG | May 22, 2010 at 9:59 am |

    I'm too lazy to look this up, but I am pretty sure Bill Nye is just an actor with a Bachelors in some scientific study, which doesn't qaulify him as a “scientist”.

    • As an engineer, we study physics, chemistry and take numerous problem solving courses. Bill Nye is a mechanical engineer who graduated from Cornell. He has problem solving skills and is intelligent enough to have completed his bachelors in the engineering field so I think he is more than qualified analyze proposed solutions to this monumental catastrophe. He sure as hell is doing alot more to help solve the problem than you junMungzunG.

  2. Jesus freaking christ. Bill nye, frontman for the dominant paradigm that made this mess speaks on freaking CNN.

    How apropros for Disinfo!

  3. I believe anyone who is experienced, knows physics/chemistry, and uses the scientific method to solve problems is consider a 'scientist'.

    You don't have to go to school to be educated in these fields, nowadays people learn independently through the internet.

  4. According to Wikipedia (if you know what I mean), he was a fourth gen. Washingtonian (aka elitist). He went to private school at the elitist Sidwell Friends. He went to college at elitist Cornell, studied under Carl Sagan and graduated with a Mechanical Engineering Degree.

    He began his career at military/industrial complex giant Boeing. He is a NASA reject. Obviously he is a Science reject but because of his elitist pedigree insists upon being the clown face of debunkers.

  5. Hadrian999 | May 22, 2010 at 7:21 pm |

    just a Mr. Wizard wannabe

  6. Just because someone went to school to become a scientist, does not make them one. What papers have been published in his name?

  7. emperorreagan | May 22, 2010 at 11:14 pm |

    I never would have imagined that Bill Nye is such a contentious personality.

  8. Vincent Branciforti | May 23, 2010 at 8:20 am |

    I have an idea for controlling the broken pipe. Use a umbrella on a pipe that opens when near the open pipe.
    It would look like a patio umbrella to a degree. Only with the hole at the top that the collecting pipe is attached to . It would be spring loaded at bottom . Then when engaged the arms would be released and the umbrella would open wide about ten feet above the gusher .The gushing oil at that point would be contained to a smaller degree of control. Just turn the pumps on and suck up the oil . Use the robot to position some weights at the ocean floor so the umbrella will stay at the diffind location. the weights can be attached to the pipe and released at the same time the suction umbrella is released . This will work ! long enough tell they close it up permanently. If you need some type of illustration and can supply it .

  9. Howard T. Vaum | May 24, 2010 at 6:08 pm |

    I have a suggestion on fixing the BP oil spil Where can I send itl.

    • June Carver | Jun 6, 2010 at 12:26 pm |

      I also have a suggestion on fixing the BP oil spill, a simple solution. Where can I send it?

  10. Obama Sucks | May 25, 2010 at 1:33 am |

    Is there an oil company that has never had some kind of accident?
    I think it's hysterical that everybody thinks they know better than professionals how to fix this monumental problem.
    Easy to criticize when it's not your ass on the line.

    We can thank the environmentalists for this one.
    It would be so much cheaper to drill on land here in the U.S.A, but you can't do THAT here anymore.

    • congressive | May 25, 2010 at 8:26 pm |

      No. That's either gross ignorance or a lie, depending on whether you know the truth or are just blathering a Rush quote.

      “Since the summer of 2008, the number of oil and gas rigs located in the U.S. has fallen 50% in response to American natural gas prices and Global oil prices, which have fallen to two-thirds of their summer 2008 levels. For many oil and gas producers, drilling has become unprofitable.”

      It's the MONEY, not the Sierra Club.

  11. justagirl | May 25, 2010 at 8:58 am |

    they need to seal the leak with a great big deflated balloon and refresh it with a new balloon each time it fills up until the oil is done seeping out. then, punish those who were responsible (or irresponsible) for the tanker. last, find a new way to transport oil. this way is not working.

  12. congressive | May 25, 2010 at 8:33 pm |

    The only solution that will be ALLOWED to work is the relief well. Any solution that damages the existing hole will not be allowed. A relief well will reduce the pressure coming up the broken pipe enough to fix it and start pumping oil as originally planned.

    Historically, it's the only solution that has ever been allowed to work. Plugging, pinching, crushing, sealing the well is counter to BP's financial interests, which will always trump ecology and ethics, as is mandated by capitalism.

    Wonder if BP has a solution to bringing those burnt and broken bodies of BP employees, who were killed by management's push for profits over safety, back to life.

  13. What is the Gov. waiting for just step in and handle the spill. If BP hasn't got it under control yet will it ever.

  14. This was sent to the President 5-27-10.
    Get Military Ships (tankers) in there and suck up the oil until it IS GONE!!!!!!!
    Get Thad Allen off this – he was retiring before this happened. HE NEEDS TO RETIRE. HE TALKS LIKE ROBERT GIBBS – HE MOVES HIS MOUTH – BUT, SAYS N O T H I N G!!!!!!



    SO, THAT IS NAPOLITANO, ALLEN, GIBBS AND EMANUEL – who need to be fired.


  15. Bimini1212 | May 28, 2010 at 10:58 am |

    Per the top kill method – I'd be suprised if someone in the chemical industry can't suggest a two-part epoxy-like supstance that can't be pumped into the BOP. These kinds of chemicals use a resin and a hardner to crosslink and make incredibly sticky and strong substances. Some of them react almost instantly – like sprayfoam insulation for instance. Foam is useless at those pressures, but I'll bet there are chemicals that will produce rubber-like strands in a hurry. They have a length of tube to travel giving them to react. Pump the resin in one tube, the hardner in another to create the needed labrynth for the top kill mud.

  16. connie dobbs | May 28, 2010 at 1:45 pm |

    It's not that he's not an elitist, it's just that you're inferior.

  17. connie dobbs | May 28, 2010 at 1:45 pm |

    It's not that he's not an elitist, it's just that you're inferior.

  18. Dear Mr. Nye,
    I fear this is a catastrophe. Can we clean up the oil slick by torching it?
    There would be consequenses of course but would they weigh up or be greater than such a loss of wildlife and natural habitat?

    Best to you,
    Joanne K.

  19. How the oil problem can be solved!…..
    A funnel works two ways, something going down or something going up will enter a funnel if positioned properly! No? Prove this! Hold a funnel upside down in a fish-tank or whatever, then blow some cod-liver oil through a tube into the bottom of the funnel area, Presto the oil comes up through the funnel to the top of the water ! So! Attach a tube at the small end of the funnel and pump, pump, pump, at a rate that keeps up with the oil flow; also another pump removing water at the bottom of the tanker as it settles…
    Bud Crawford Coopersburg PA

    Another sure fire way to stop an oil leak …
    You build a long cigar shaped tube made of strong material like an auto tire with correct dimensions ..
    You insert that into the pipe with a long probe, then fill the tube with a very heavy liquid, presto! The leak will stop.. Bud Crawford Coopersburg PA

  20. It seems as though the pipe broke below the natural surface. This, along with the
    chasm that the pipe exists will make it impossible to mount anything to fight the
    pressure being released. Is there a much larger drill bit that can be used to tear
    away from the circumference of the pipe and also give a width enough to allow a
    mounting of a clam of some kind to place over the whole.

    More specifically, any pressure needs to be counterbalanced with an exterior
    wall holding the clam. A drill bit large enough that will provide for a hollowing
    around the pipe would create access to the pipe along with a possible mounting
    wall to stablize a covering of the leak. Essentially, you have a chasm, a broken
    pipe below the natural terrain that can only be accessed by drilling away at the
    surrounding of the pipe. A larger bit provides the increased circumference to
    make mounting possible. One only needs to design a compatible cover that
    can handle the pressure given the wall created by a larger bit drilling around
    the piping

  21. giant gravy/broth strainers to separate the oil from the water…dump the oil into tankers for distillation….

  22. Thechassisman | May 29, 2010 at 10:24 pm |

    One inch and then gradually smaller diameter lead ball bearings need to be slowly poured down this broken unstable pipe which will plug it from the bottom, up, They can be poured in easily through a hose or pipe, and will self organize as they land, to start forming the seal that will end this disaster . Once the finest of the shot are finally poured the leak will be over and BP can get to cleaning up the mess. Also adding a final cement sealer on top of the lead. If steel ball bearings are used they could rust, expand, and eventually split the pipe, which might not matter though, if the well point it is far below the ocean floor. BP needs to forget about saving this well, and just drill a new one someday near this one if the govt will allow it. Please pass this on to someone who can help get this idea to fruition. If they mess with this and the pipe breaks off more below the ocean floor, they may never stop it, so while they have access to the pipe they need to take this positive action.

    Mark Mossell of Portage In.

  23. My name is Hirsch Vivat P.E. I think that pumping Mud was a good idea, but it did ot work because the speed of oil was very high, it was not enough time to produce chemical reactions I propose to BP to add a ferromagnetic additives to the mud and attach permanent magnets to the pipe or surrounding area around the pipe It will trap the mud together with ferromagnetic elements around the inside wall of the pipe. Build up will start. Consistency of ferromagnetic additives may be adjusted during the build up.

  24. Jeffrey GreeneInfo | May 30, 2010 at 2:27 pm |

    If about 75 large boulders, say 10' in diameter, were dropped over the gusher such that they were heavy enough to remain stable in the flow area, they would divide the stream into multiple smaller streams. If the mound of large boulders was then covered by a layer of smaller boulders, say 3' in diameter, this would further subdivide the streams. Then a layer of 1' diameter rocks, then one of 4″ diameter, then one of 1″ diameter then cover the entire huge mound with sand, clay or the like. This would spread out the huge force of the gusher to a manageable level that could be stopped. Very simple, and I think easily doable.

  25. Cut the line leading from the valve. Take the ” Top Hat” or sometning larger and wider. A containment dome as it were and put it over the valve. Weight it down as much as necessary to push it into the ocean floor ( sealing the bottom) and to counter the preasure of the rising oil. Done Less is more.

  26. I am sending this suggestion to temporary stop the flow of oil. If you saw the vertical pipe off horizontally with the robots my idea is to get a steel ingot from a steel mill that is 4 foot by 6 foot by 18 inches thick attach a 4 inch thick hard rubber sheet to the 4 foot by 6 foot side and lower the ingot down on to the sawed pipe rubber side down on to the sawed off pipe. If one ingot is not heavy enough put two ingots together and the rubber would seal the top of the pipe temporary. Until a permanent fix could be made. Good luck I think this might help with your problem. I will be watching your progress on t.v.

    C. Hursh

  27. Brendan Foley | May 30, 2010 at 7:18 pm |

    I suggest using bitumen miixed with peat moss to plug the leaking hole! Otherwise a controlled nuclear explosion!

  28. Patrick M, Calgary | May 31, 2010 at 11:30 am |

    Continuously pump high pressure SEA WATER into the top to suppress or even STOP the leak until such time as relief wells can be drilled -> better to leak water instead of oil! KISS (Patrick M, Calgary)

  29. A temporary solution to control the leak is a water permeable containment boom over the leak pipe. To be filled up like a hot air balloon with the oil displacing the sea water. The boom could be anchored to the seabed and widen in a cone shape to the surface where the contained oil can be drawn off. At the top a buoyant ring to keep the oil in and hold up the 5,000' boom frame which could be chain or carbon fiber. Tugs could keep it from drifting. This would allow easy gas venting and no pressure like a pipe structure.

  30. Davedeguglielmo | May 31, 2010 at 1:18 pm |

    The Pressure and Fow has to be decreased slowly, not in one shot.Lower a 4 Inch plug, 100 feet down into
    the well pipe,then a larger diameter plug down to that one. repeat this until pipe diameter is full.( with larger plugs every time.) This will slowly reduse Pressure and Flow.

  31. use a band clamp (also know as a web clamp) us a type of clamp which allows the clamping of items where the surfaces to be clamped are not parrellel to each other; where there are multiple surfaces involved; or where clamping pressure is required from multiple directions at once.

    Clamping pressure is applied either through a mechanism method such as a screw or ratchet mechanism which tightens the band. like a rachet strap could be tightened down stopping the oil flow.
    Hope this idea can help stop the oil spill.
    Dennis G. Kenny

  32. Why don't they unbolt the broken flange just below where they plan to cut off the leaking pipe and bolt on a valve with a matching flange and then simply close the valve to stshut it off? They can then bolt on a pipe to the other end of the valve assembly to continue pumping oil in the future.


  33. Joel McVicker | May 31, 2010 at 8:12 pm |

    I think if somehow we could weld a cap onto it. have a valve and keep it open while welding and when done close it.

  34. Joel McVicker | May 31, 2010 at 8:15 pm |

    If nothing else, pump the oil into tankers. It will cut down on pollution

  35. Frederick W Lutz Jr. | Jun 1, 2010 at 6:27 am |

    I have a idea for a mechanical plug i need to know what is is I.D. of the pipe and if it has a smooth or if it has any ridges in side of it so it will seal properly or slow the flow till the the other wells are drilled or the pipe can be caped also did they cut the pipe if so it will be much easer to fit it in there if not what is the I.D. size of the caps hole or holes is it tapered ect., Also what tools and movements can the robots do i think and long pipe or steal rod attached to my plug can lower it in to the pipe and i need to know the robots specs to tell you how simple i can make the plug work if they can tighten bolts it should work the same as the plugs mechanism I can make a video and show you how it works on a solid pipe and a 3000 an gallon hour water pump for smaller scale test if you would like as well email me for more info

  36. Michealjfarmer | Jun 1, 2010 at 12:07 pm |

    why cant you build a hydrolic boot to incase the pipe and somehow bring the oil to the surface in a controlled way

  37. Johnjkessler | Jun 1, 2010 at 9:17 pm |

    What if you use the well pressure to HELP seal the leak instead of fighting it? What if you took a stint like idea…force some sort of very thick walled inflatable device, push it all the way down the riser, fully into the well, then inflate the device so it is bigger than the riser diameter. Once inflated, pull it back out so it sits against the riser from within the well and then the pressure of the well would help seal it against the riser like a check valve. Maybe this would slow it enough to cement it shut using the top kill idea….Instead of stopping this leak where it exits the riser, how about stopping it from entering the riser????

  38. Stagenine | Jun 2, 2010 at 1:40 pm |

    He keeps reporting that the pressure coming out of the well is 6000 psi, thats absurd the oil would be coming out of there like a jet airplane exhaust.What I really don't like is we need solutions to get the oil out of the water before it comes ashore and that costs lots and lots of cash any time anyone suggests the idea it gets shot down.Just like the claims many of us have been making that this disaster was going to happen and that they should not drill because the cost of clean up would be too high. Exon still hasn't cleaned all the oil in Prince William Sound nor did they put in hatcheries to spawn the herring stocks. Then Chaineys chief of staff just got 250,000 dollars for a clean up contract out of Tampa. Fuck the asshole rip-offs they are trying to profit form both sides.

  39. Thomas Peel | Jun 3, 2010 at 11:28 pm |

    Sink a large vessel, old submarine what ever with a hole on the bottom over the pipe. then pump the oil out of the other end of this vessel. This should reduce the pressure and staying ahead of the oil flow should not be a problem. Affixing this vessel to the ocean floor also should not be a problem. Also a seperater plate or screen to reduce pressure or increase for controlling the oil flow throw the ascending oil line with gas free flowing through the ascending pipe. An Archimedean type of pump might also be of value.
    The hole in the vessel to be placed over the pipe should be conical to allow for error of placement but a tight fit as it slides down.

  40. Shawngriswold | Jun 4, 2010 at 6:53 am |

    make a gaint bladder to help contain the oil
    a gaint metal ring with plastic bladder that will cover oil coming out

  41. Michaelrobinson57 | Jun 4, 2010 at 11:34 am |

    Use the ports in the preventer they pumped drilling mud into, to extract oil. Just reverse the flow. If nothing else it will keep some of the oil out of the gulf.

  42. Freeze the Bore Hole:
    Reduce temperature in the bore hole to below freezing point of oil – oil viscosity increases causing a reduction in flow – eventually oil freezes in the hole blocking the flow entirely.

  43. Web-Based Information Portal:

    This is not just BP's problem – it is a major world catastrophy which will eventually affect everyone on the planet. So if it is “our” problem why does it seem that we are leaving it to BP to solve? There are millions of very concerned engineers, enviornmentalists, and other people around the world who are willing to help with their knowledge and ideas. But how can these people help if there is no specific information available about the problem to be solved? An interactive web-based information clearinghouse should be developed to provide a focus for detailed engineering information on the specific conditions of the well, background information regarding underwater oil and gas, detailed engineering information on all engineered solutions attempted to date, and detailed engineering information on any other solutions proposed. This would allow concerned people to understand and analyze the problem and propose potential solutions. A great deal of intelligence could be brought to bear on the problem.

  44. GOLD HILL MAN | Jun 11, 2010 at 5:58 pm |

    Have a long pipe that has a valve at the end of it. This pipe will be just bigger then the original one, like pvc it will fit like a sleeve. The valve will be open at the end of pipe to let oil pass wile it is fitted over the leaking pipe. Now the oil will be diverted away from leak at the valve end. Repair or fix can be worked on at the sleave end (weld or ring with self tapping bolts) use imagination for fix end. Once sealed the valve can be turned off at the end for final fix. THANK YOU FOR READING MY IDEA. GOD BLESS US ALL FOR WE WILL BE NEEDING IT!

  45. Dlyingtruth | Jun 14, 2010 at 5:17 pm |

    Obviously this oil leak will not be completely fixed, and the approaches BP has been using are not working.
    My idea for a band-aid effect is somewhat like the dryer hose vent flow extraction. There is a heavy pressure of air exhausting from the dryer through the dryer hose. It wouldn't hurt to try and use an extra large flexible plastic hose. The oil pipe can be cut so it has a round circumference, the large flexible plastic hose can be placed over top and clamped on. (Use as many clamps as possible if needed) (Double, Triple the layers of the hose if needed) The oil flowing from the hose can be pumped into a tanker. To keep the flexible hose from moving about in the water, large rods can be used to hold this in place or confine it to a certain amount of space. The oil has been flowing into the water for much too long. At this point and time, any ideas or all ideas should be exercised and implemented. If the brilliant minds of 1970 could place a square canister into a circular one, why can't this 2010 oil disaster not be contained or fixed immediately. (Rhetorical)
    Rhonda Davis
    Dauphin, Manitoba

  46. Evshantel | Jun 23, 2010 at 10:39 pm |

    Hoops with fabric in between, much like a childs tunnel. 100 ft in diameter and long enough (over 1 mile) to reach the surface. Placed over the pipe and released to capture oil rising up to the surface.

  47. I have an idea how to stop the oil at the broken valve, but I don’t know who to get in contact with. I think that it would be an easy solution to the spill and it wouldn’t be as costly as some the things they are trying now. If someone knows who to contact please contact me at

  48. I have an idea how to stop the oil at the broken valve, but I don't know who to get in contact with. I think that it would be an easy solution to the spill and it wouldn't be as costly as some the things they are trying now. If someone knows who to contact please contact me at

  49. i strongly agree with you Cljd

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