This was first composed, along with several other possibilities,
a couple weeks after the explosion and fire occurred and on the same day
that the first brief BP video was aired, in Spring 2010.|
What SHOULD have been doneEven while they were still searching for survivors of the explosion, in late April 2010, the damaged well pipe should have been crushed or dynamited shut. Down BELOW the failure, attempts to DENT the outside of the well pipe should have been made, in order to KINK the pipe closed by then BENDING it. You have done this with a garden hose, where you have squeezed it and then bent it to cause the hose to close shut due to your kinking it, where you have entirely STOPPED THE WATER FLOW IMMEDIATELY. You may have also unintentionally kinked copper tubing or aluminum tubing when you tried to bend it. The hose or pipe or well pipe nearly always KINKS shut!
In fact, this concept could have been tried many times if it failed, just trying to make such a kink bend a few feet farther down if an earlier attempt did not seal it shut, again, just like you have made kinks in different locations along that garden hose.
You KNOW how excellently that stops the water flow in a garden hose! It would have certainly worked to seal that BP oil well shut, probably within a few days of the BP disaster on April 20, 2010. The ONLY other thing that could have happened would be that the metal of the well pipe was so brittle that it shattered. But the very process and industry of driving well pipes ensures that no brittle metals could be used for well pipes.
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Get any vise or Vise-Grip and squeeze around the conduit about halfway up. You will soon distort the circular shape of the conduit and start changing it into an oval shape. IF you continue to squeeze, you will not even need to use that cord, as the upper half of the conduit will simply fall over due to its own weight and gravity! And as it starts to bend over, the location you had squeezed at becomes a hinge, and the tube/pipe completely flattens there in order to fall further!
However, if you stop squeezing around half way, the stability of the tube/pipe is greatly reduced (easily calculated by simple Mechanical Engineering formulas) and a slight tug on that cord can start the bending without having to completely squeeze it shut first. As before, as it bends further, the tube/pipe naturally closes shut in a kink in order to form that hinge upon which the rest of the bending will occur. In either case, once the tube/pipe has bent nearly 180 degrees, the conduit or well pipe WILL virtually completely seal shut, just like you do with your garden hose! INSTANTLY SEALING THE LEAK SHUT!
|BEFORE BP bored that oil well, or any others, the deep Earth had many pools of petroleum which were under fairly high natural pressure. Just because BP bored an oilwell did not change any basic laws of science or any basic facts about the Earth. Simply sealing that wellpipe shut would have just caused the situation to be like it was before we had ever discovered oil.|
As soon as I saw the video (which BP had had for two weeks but kept it secret from the public and the government), I immediately noticed that the movement of the oil seemed to be "at least as fast as a fast walk". We normally walk at about 3 mph, so a fast walk might be about 5 mph, which is around 7 feet per second. BP did not immediately admit to the diameter of the oil well pipe, but that soon became known as being 21" in diameter.
Is your brain warmed up? Can you do as well (or better!) than BP's high-paid Engineers? Let's see! In ONE SECOND, we know that a cylinder of oil moves past any location in the pipe, 21" in diameter and 7 feet long. Can you calculate the VOLUME of that cylinder? Pi-R-Squared-h, a common formula you learned in High School. In this case, we have about 17 cubic feet of oil passing every second. (after converting inches into feet). And each cubic foot equals about 7.5 gallons of liquid. Multiplying, we find that about 125 gallons of oil pass every second!
You already know that there are 60 seconds in every minute and 60 minutes in every one of the 24 hours of each day, which is 86,400 seconds. Multiplying, that tells us that we just calculated that around 10 million gallons MUST pass every day!
It is true that there is also natural gas flowing in there, and also some water, so the actual amount of petroleum might conservatively be 4 million gallons per day. A barrel is 40 gallons, so that means that on the FIRST day that BP had seen that video, they easily should have realized that around 100,000 barrels of oil was leaking each day. After all, YOU just figured that out!
(Around June 20, a BP document from early in the disaster became public that states that as much as 100,000 barrels of oil was leaking every day. YOU just calculated that in a couple minutes!)
But BP knew that it would be very unpopular to say such an enormous number, so they MADE UP a claim that the leak was just 1000 barrels or 2000 barrels per day. An outright lie, as you now see!
In any case, just because people want to PRETEND that all danger of oil pollution in the Gulf rapidly disappeared, does not mean it is true. So where is it now?
How come no one did any CALCULATIONS? Unbelievable! We will do that here! A gallon of oil takes up about 1/7 cubic foot of volume. So 200 million gallons takes up about 30 million cubic feet of volume. And even though gasoline and light oils have densities less than water (they float on water), much of heavy petroleum can have densities slightly greater than water does. That means that it can sink to the bottom and form a layer of petroleum. How thick would this be? Well, say that most of the petroleum which seems to have disappeared settled down to the bottom over an area centered on the well-site location and which is just ten miles in diameter. The AREA of this? Simple, just pi-r-squared, which is about 180 million square feet.
So now we would have 30 million cubic feet of petroleum spread out over 180 million square feet of ocean bottom. Simple division indicates that the average depth of the layer of petroleum on the bottom might then be about 30/180 or 1/6 foot or two inches thick. How hard was THAT to estimate?
In mid-September 2010, a researcher announced that her team had taken large numbers of what are called core samples, from different locations in the Gulf. Interestingly, she mentioned that they commonly found a layer of petroleum lying on the bottom which was as much as two inches thick!
She then stated one of the first honest and accurate statements I have heard regarding that whole mess, that she felt that her PRELIMINARY findings suggested that MOST of that petroleum that had come out of that failed well had NOT evaporated and had NOT been collected and removed, but instead is LYING ON THE BOTTOM OF THE GULF OF MEXICO.
She added some additional comments which are certainly important. She said that her team had NOT found anything living on the bottom except for certain bacteria. No clams, no worms, nothing.
She did NOT extend those comments further, which will certainly be done in coming years. Much of the bottom of the Gulf IS DEAD and WILL REMAIN DEAD for many years to come. The food chain among creatures and plants in the Gulf STARTS with tiny plants and creatures which live on the bottom. With such an enormous area of the bottom that is covered with that layer of petroleum, in coming years, it seems very likely that fish may no longer be able to live there. Much of the Gulf figures to become DEAD, probably for decades to come. The Exxon Valdez spill of 1/20 as much oil near Alaska, of 20 years ago, still has immense effect, in that a fairly thick layer of petroleum lies just below the surface of surface soil and sand, and also certainly along the bottom of the bay there, 20 years after that spillage. Imagine the effects of 20 times as much spilled petroleum in the Gulf!
The BP oil spill is recognized as a catastrophe. It seems clear that few people realize just how enormous that catastrophe is and will be. But the likelihood that the Gulf will have far fewer fish and shrimp and clams ten or twenty years from now will not likely be blamed on the BP incompetence now. Because such changes tend to occur GRADUALLY. Very sad.
The COO of BP has publicly stated that he feels an extreme responsibility "to the stakeholders" of BP, referring primarily to their stockholders. The planet, the environment and the public , only come AFTER that total focus on profits!
The " FACT " that BP made up? It is that it is NECESSARY for BP to forever REMOVE oil from that failed well, allegedly for some larger environmental reason (which they never disclose).
And so, rather than DYNAMITING the failed pipe shut on the first day of the leak (to try to smash it closed), or using strong hydraulic presses (like car crushers at the junkyard) (to crush the well pipe closed, maybe using some acetylene torches to heat and soften the metal of the pipe if necessary), they constantly came up with extremely silly and foolish ideas where THEY WOULD THEN BE ABLE TO AGAIN REMOVE OIL AND MAKE ENORMOUS PROFITS FROM THAT WELL!
The REALITY has always been that IF that damaged well was or is simply SEALED SHUT, the Earth will NOT "explode from excessive pressure!" It COULD HAVE BEEN DONE ON THE FIRST DAY OF THE LEAKAGE!
But after letting enormous amounts of oil pour out for many weeks already, BP now often refers to AUGUST before they might have the leak closed. They explain that it will be after FIVE MONTHS of constant spectacular leakage (which they seem to tolerate!) before they can finish DRILLING A SECOND WELL. They claim that a second well will RELEASE THE PRESSURE, and therefore stop the leakage. That is clearly NOT going to happen! A second well might REDUCE the pressure down SLIGHTLY below what it has been during these months of leakage, but it CANNOT make the existing pressure just DISAPPEAR! The basic laws of science do not permit that. How could extremely highly paid Engineers working for BP not know that? It is essentially CRIMINAL to keep allowing all that oil to despoil an enormous area, just because BP cannot imagine any other course of action than to have a NEW well that will be able to extract oil (to sell)!
And everyone simply buys BP's claim that it is NECESSARY for them to forever extract oil from that well! God must see some very dark humor in this aberrant focus of a business on ONLY doing what is necessary to make them billions of dollars of money! I have to believe that He is very Sad regarding the enormous damage that continues to be done to His planet, entirely due to this single-minded focus on profit-making of a Corporation.
But their incompetence is certain to show itself in an even worse COMING failing! From the start, BP has insisted that they can drill a second well, in August, and they assure everyone that that will somehow solve everything! NO IT WON'T!
ANY sane company would have done a DEMO TEST to confirm that their basic idea was valid. IF they had ever done such a test, they would certainly have immediately discovered that it is NOT going to work!
BP does not seem to employ anyone who knows how to do Engineering or Physics! They certainly were not able to look at their own video to get a flow rate that was even 1/100 of what the real flow rate has been. But they are about to outdo even their previous stupid ideas!
Very little progress has been made toward sealing the failed well pipe BECAUSE BP has constantly insisted that the additional well that they are boring which will be completed in August will solve the problem.
There is NO LOGIC in that! Any Engineer, in or out of BP, certainly KNOWS that the oil is under a pressure of around 2500 PSIG inside the well pipe. HOW do we know that? Easy! Simple High School science again! When you dive deep in a swimming pool, you feel your ears affected by the greater water pressure down there. Hundreds of years ago, famous scientists found that about 32 feet deep of water weighs as much as the entire height of the atmosphere of air. This means that the 32 feet deep of water causes a PRESSURE at that depth which is around 15 PSIG, one atmosphere. If you go further down, to 64 feet deep, you are at a pressure of TWO atmospheres, 30 PSIG. Got it? Water is basically incompressible, so this continues. We know that BP's failed oil well is about a mile deep. You can easily divide 5280 by 32 to find that the WATER pressure down there is about 160 atmospheres, or around 2400 PSIG pressure. Pretty simple to calculate, huh?
Now, in order for oil to flow OUT of a well or pipe, it HAS TO BE at a pressure GREATER than the pressure of where it is going to. When that oil inside the well pipe gets to the gaping hole, it is exposed to water which is at a natural pressure of around 2400 PSIG. (which YOU just calculated!) THE DIFFERENTIAL of those pressures is what causes the oil to be shooting out. This is basic science.
In case you are curious, that amazing pressure which exists INSIDE the natural pool of oil down there (and in every oil pool that has ever been tapped with an oil well) is the NATURAL fluid pressure which is due to the weight of more than a mile of rock and water above it. Scientifically, this is a part of Fluid Dynamics called Isostasy, where all fluid pressures naturally balance out over a long period of time. Voila, AT LEAST 2500 PSIG pressure is in the oil inside the well pipe right near the failure.
Amazingly, EVERYONE seems to be incapable of the calculations which YOU have just done! But STANDARD fluid flow formulas show these things and much more. ANY decent fluid flow Engineer should immediately have seen what I did in the video discussed above, and with careful measurements of frame speed of the video and the known diameter of the well pipe, an EXACT fluid velocity and fluid flow would be known. It turns out that another standard fluid flow formula shows the relationship between the DIFFERENTIAL PRESSURE and the fluid velocity (accounting for some things such as dynamic fluid viscosity and kinematic frictional coefficient and such). The EXACT pressure of the oil exiting the failed well pipe could therefore be fairly easily calculated! IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN CALCULATED IMMEDIATELY, by BP Engineers, by US Army Corps of Engineers people, and many others. (In more than two months, absolutely no one seems to have yet done that!)
Remember when BP announced that they were going to try something which they called "Junk Shot"? Where they intended to try to inject shredded car tires and old golf balls into the well to clog it up? And EVERYONE realized how stupid that sounded (and was!).
Incredibly, BP picked materials that either FLOAT (rubber from tires) or nearly float (golf balls) which would clearly get blown back out of the well immediately. There was NO CHANCE WHATEVER of their idea working, as was true of all their other ideas as well!
But consider this: Once they had stuck that smaller tube INTO the large oil well pipe, they PROBABLY could have clogged it up within a few hours!. But instead of trying to inject LIGHT materials like shredded tires, they clearly should have dumped millions of "lead shot", like buckshot from a shotgun. Why? Because LEAD is very dense. Where iron or steel is around EIGHT times the density of seawater, lead is around TWELVE times. There is actually an even better material, and something that is available in huge quantities, something called "depleted Uranium", where the density is around EIGHTEEN TIMES that of water, one of the highest density materials around. Depleted Uranium is the U-238 uranium which is left when the U-235 has been extracted to be used for weapons or for fuel pellets in reactors. There are HUGE stockpiles of depleted Uranium which no one knows what to do with. It is relatively safe material. Actually, the most common usage of depleted Uranium up to now has been in lining, laminating Army Tanks! The extremely dense depleted Uranium is barely affected by far less dense steel or lead rockets or artillery or by explosives, and army tanks have been far safer for having been lined with depleted Uranium.
The point being, it is pretty safe material, where a Tank crew can be just a few feet away from a lot of it for a long time with no serious side effects!
So BP COULD HAVE simply poured millions and billions of tiny pellets of either lead or depleted uranium down through the smaller pipe they had installed. They would have rattled around as they fell down through that smaller pipe, but GRAVITY would have caused them to "drop faster than a rock, VERY FAST!" The extremely heavy small pellets would have been slightly affected by the upward flow of the escaping oil (a few upward MPH, slow), but their extreme density would have cause most of those pellets to sink all the way down to the bottom of that well. After the first fifty feet of well was completely filled with such tiny pellets, the upward oil flow would have nearly stopped, WITHIN HOURS! They could then have continued to pour pellets or concrete or anything else which would be PERMANENT, to even complete FILL the entire well pipe. If I had a say, I would probably WANT them to fill the entire well pipe, just to make sure that another drop of oil could never come out of it.
So BP's Junk Shot was a stupid idea, but if they would have been smart enough to have thought of using either lead shot or depleted uranium pellets instead, it quite possibly would have SEALED THE WELL UP IN APRIL.
OK! So what will happen? The EXISTING 2500 PSIG pressure in the entire (giant) pool of oil, would now have a second escape path. Yes, SOME oil will therefore come up through the new oilwell. But do you see that a (small) new pipe will NOT suddenly cause the pressure in the existing pipe to disappear? In fact, even if they bored a GIANT new borehole and then installed a giant SUCTION PUMP on it, the presence of this second oilwell cannot and will not materially reduce the pressure which exists in the existing failed well.
Yes, the second open pathway WILL SLIGHTLY reduce the 2500 PSIG pressure in the pool of oil. But their whole BUSINESS is based on that pressure within a giant natural pool of oil STAYING HIGH for years, so that the oil will continue to flow out of all their oilwells (for years). PUMPING oil up a mile is NOT a credible way to operate that business! (More simple calculations show that LIFTING 4 million gallons of petroleum a MILE to the surface every day, around 25 million pounds of petroleum, would require spectacularly giant and powerful pumps, which have never and will never be used in that business!)
And so they have been claiming that by boring a second well, all that enormous pressure down there will suddenly disappear! IF that were actually possible, their business of oilwells would never have even gotten started in the 1860s and could never have gotten as enormous as it is!
So, when they get the new borehole into the oil pool, and they suddenly realize that it does NOT decrease the pressure in the failed well, BP will again have to explain total incompetence!
By the way, in maybe TWO HOURS of effort back on April 21, BP could have learned that their second well idea was truly stupid! They could have found an Artesian Well. There are thousands of Artesian Wells which were bored down through the American MidWest, decades ago. Why? Because those wells penetrate an Aquifer, which is a somewhat contained layer of sandstone (a rock that is permeable to water) with layers of clay (not permeable) above and below it. In this region, the layers SLIGHTLY slope downward from the Rocky Mountains. This works out that rain and smow that falls in Colorado percolates down into the ground there and into that Aquifer. That water has nowhere to go but to slowly head eastward due to the slope of the layers. I hope I have not lost you here, but the result is that the water down in that Aquifer is therefore AT A PRESSURE. So when an Artesian Well is bored, when the pipe penetrates into the Aquifer, water starts SHOOTING OUT.
Do you see why Artesian Wells are popular? NO PUMP IS NECESSARY and NO EXPENSIVE ELECTRICITY is needed to run that pump!
So the SOURCE of the underground fluid pressure is a little different in a pool of oil and in an Aquifer that can feed Artesian Wells. But the RESULT is very similar, the desired fluid (oil or water) comes up out of the ground at a natural pressure.
So BP COULD HAVE gotten permission to use an existing Artesian Well for a test demo. The water is CURRENTLY coming out at some known pressure, say 10 PSIG, as it leaves the ground surface. The demo would be to try to show that the pressure and flow in that existing Artesian Well could be completely stopped by boring a second well near it. The problem is simply stated!
IN AN HOUR, a local well driller could have been hired and a new second Artesian Well bored right next to the original one.
THIS demo would fairly accurately represent the situation of a buried HUGE pool of pressurized fluid which has sufficient internal pressure such that it can cause that fluid to NATURALLY come up through a bored well pipe. Most natural water wells do NOT have this much pressure down there, and they require pumps and electricity, but a few do, which are these Artesian wells.
BP could have done THIS demo on an EXISTING ARTESIAN WATER WELL! That is a natural situation that is EXACTLY like that of an oil well!
So then they could have driven a second standard water well down to a point next to the bottom end of the first well pipe, INSIDE the ENORMOUS, thousands of square miles, Aquifer filled with what we will say is 25 PSIG water down there. Consider what will happen. The new well WILL also release water from the pressurized Aquifer. But it CANNOT suddenly release the 25 PSIG (natural) pressure in the entire thousands of square miles of Aquifer with water in it OR in the giant oil pool. Yes, the demo MIGHT seem to show a TINY pressure reduction in the region of the Aquifer nearby, but not really much, and possibly not even measurable! It would NOT cause a SUCTION as though BP seems to be claiming, in the original well.
In fact, it MIGHT SLIGHTLY REDUCE the amount of (water or) oil flow out of the (original) failed well, BUT NOT MATERIALLY!
Can you see that the basic assumptions BP has made have been TOTALLY WRONG? Just like all their previous wrong assumptions on their previous failed efforts to stop the oil leak?
We will have waited for four months to learn that BP again has no idea what it is doing!
It seems very likely that in September or October, someone will FINALLY actually act to SEAL THE FAILED WELL SHUT, probably by one of the methods described here! I have a feeling that there will be so much anger that someone will propose lowering an atomic weapon down there and detonating it near the failed well pipe, to try to CRUSH the well pipe shut and to cause sediment to quickly settle into the crater created by the bomb. I hope they do NOT try that! The methods described here are far more controllable, and repeatable.
I will describe it for closing off a 4" pipe but it can be reduced for a 2" diameter just as well.
Here is a edgeways view and a top view of the assembled device, as it is when inserted into the pipe.
This concept is based on a simple and proven fact that an accurate oval disk can get jammed into the sidewalls of such a round pipe by just letting it tilt over and get wedged. The ONLY need is to stop the forward-most part of the oval from sliding lengthwise through the pipe. As long as that single location is kept from sliding, the pressure of the fluid (the oil) acts to try to tilt the oval even more, causing it to seal even tighter to the inside walls of the pipe.
The rod inside the tube forces the steel plate to be securely lengthwise with the conduit, and therefore with the oncoming oilflow. No significant resistance would exist regarding inserting it into the tube or pipe in this position. Imagine a demo length of 4" diameter PVC or iron pipe having a lot of water gushing out of the open end. The conduit (from ten feet away, safety) is used AS A HANDLE to INSERT the NOW RIGID oval disk into the end of the open pipe. It is easy to do because there is no back pressure (which BP cannot seem to comprehend!) because the plate slides in EDGEWAYS.
Once the oval disk is fully inserted into the pipe, the (conduit) handle is securely restrained from being pushed backward out of the pipe, and the inner rod is quickly pulled back. When the rod is pulled back, it is no longer in that "keeper" at the center of the oval, and the rigidity of the device ends. The pressure and turbulence of the oncoming flowing water would immediately cause the oval to "flop over" (on the pivot hinge) to around a 45 degree angle inside the pipe. The conduit MUST be "defended" from sliding backwards out of the pipe, and the pivot hinge MUST be extremely sturdy, as there would suddenly be immense force trying to cause that to happen. But as long as that is held, the now angled oval disk would IMMEDIATELY have closed the ENTIRE pipe diameter.
Ten minutes to build it. Fifteen seconds to insert it and pull that rod to stop the water flow.
For the Gulf oil leak, the oval disk would need to be larger and thicker (sturdier), around 20" by 30" and 1/4" thick. The "handle" would have to be far stronger than conduit to withstand the compressive pressure which would exist at the moment the device is actuated.
There ARE two possible complications, neither of which should be serious. (1) IF the turbulence in the oil flow causes the oval to slant UPWARD (in the drawing) then it would be important to withdraw the rod extremely quickly, or else it would be bent and stuck in the device! Many explosives could be used to cause the rod to be withdrawn fast enough. (2) IF the turbulence cause the oval to slant downward as shown, then the pivot would represent a location of a minor leak, keeping the oval from fully contacting the pipe inner wall. However, a small slot could be made in the oval (to the right of the pivot) and the pivot point moved slightly left in the drawing, such that the handle would then fit through that slot, again allowing the entire oval circumference to contact the inner wall of the pipe.
There ARE variants possible! If, instead of a broad oval, a nearly circular oval was used, when the rod is retracted and the oval "slams shut", it would be nearly a standard "plug". The main advantage of this is that the force on the handle would be less, as the force would then be trying to flatten the oval even more, essentially driving it into the inner sidewalls of the pipe.
And even after 45 days of constantly dumping oil into the Gulf of Mexico, BP still does not get it! On the Nightly News on 6/2/10, a spokesperson talked about "getting the oil to the surface to produce product! And even the US Government official in charge of the project (Thad Allen) repeated that sentiment the same day, having a big smile in talking about "producing product." WHY would a government official be so cheerful about getting oil up to the surface as salable product? (It seemed EXTREMELY likely that that Government Official has a very highly paid job waiting for him at BP!) Certainly, everyone else in the world has been thinking in terms of SEALING THE WELL PIPE PERMANENTLY SHUT, but BP does not seem to have ever even considered doing that! In fact, they seem to have rejected any concept which might interfere with their future profitability from that well. The concepts they have tried have all been centered on the premise of "getting the oil and natural gas from that failed well to the surface, as product (such that it then could be sold)!
Why can't BP simply accept the possibility of SEALING that well, instead of looking for current and future ways to profit from it?
In any case, once they had that small pipe inserted into the large pipe (which they knocked out of the pipe with a badly controlled robot and had to re-insert!), it seemed obvious to me that they could have slid a very heavy duty "inner tube donut" down around their pipe and INSIDE the well pipe. Yes, the water pressure down there is around 2200 PSI (which I have never seen ANY Reporter ever mention!) but if they lowered tanks of compressed gas at 3000 PSI, it seemed to me that they could have INFLATED the donut (once inside the pipe) nearly immediately, to be TIGHT inside the well pipe sidewalls and TIGHT around their smaller pipe. But I guess that they wanted to spend their time in finding old golf balls and old tires to shred up!
Maybe they will ignite the entire Gulf and charge admission to people to see a fireworks show!
But BP has clearly demonstrated again that the only thing they are really thinking about is profits. They have dropped more than a million gallons of chemicals which they call DISPERSANTS, into the Gulf of Mexico. When it became clear that the massive amounts of dispersants seemed to also be killing some fishes and birds and other animals, the US government ordered BP to stop dumping more dispersants. But BP ignored that order and continued to pour and drop enormous amounts of dispersants into the Gulf waters. When Reporters expressed concerns about that specific dispersant, a chemical called Correxit, BP would not even try using any other brand of dispersant. A Reporter soon discovered that BP OWNS 21% of the company that makes that particular dispersant, so they simply saw another way to make some extra money! I have not seen that anyone has found the numbers, but a million gallons of a very strong industrial chemical clearly has meant many millions of dollars of PROFITS for that manufacturer. That means that BP has gotten at least a FEW MILLION DOLLARS PROFIT by using that specific chemical dispersant. It explains WHY BP ignored the US government's demands to stop using it. Nothing else seems to matter to BP except for profits!
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C Johnson, Theoretical Physicist, Physics Degree from Univ of Chicago