HOUSTON – The Geological Society of America’s joint meeting kicked off Sunday, beginning a week filled with thousands of presentations on soil science, atmospheric science, education and evolution, paleontological discoveries, energy issues and Hurricanes Gustav and Ike — made particularly poignant by the Houston, Texas, setting.
After the Cosco Busan container ship crashed into the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge last November and leaked more than 58,000 gallons of fuel into the bay, the U.S. Coast Guard deployed floating containment booms and absorbent pads to mop up the mess. Such technologies have been used to clean up oil spills for two decades. Soon, however, oil spill cleanup crews may have a more high-tech tool: Researchers have developed reusable sheets of nanowire “paper” that absorb oil without soaking up any water.
According to conventional wisdom, things that need to move efficiently through air or water should be sleek and streamlined. Dolphins, jets and Olympic swimmers stick to this rule, but humpback whales, with their massive knobby-edged flippers, buck the trend.