Gulf Oil Spill and How Social Networking Can Help

It seems that social networking sites are not only more popular than ever before, but are now having more practical uses than ever before. A story comes to us about the Gulf of Mexico BP oil spill and what’s being done to resolve the problem of the environmental catastrophe. It seems that 3 young doctoral graduates, all scientists, wondering how they could find out more, turned to Facebook to help them out.

The three then set up Project Tantalus, which according to Bethany Halford on C&EN, is an attempt to collect and analyze water samples from the region, with the assistance of Facebook. As the three scientists, Adam Braunschweig, Mark Olson, and Amy Scott, knew they needed the help of a lot of people to collect water samples over the huge area, they realized enlisting the use of Facebook would help them to do just that.

The goal is to obtain 100,000 water samples and the way to mobilize a force of people big enough to do this was through social networking. Project Tantalus participants are requested to collect at least 6 samples of water, from the Gulf of Mexico and covering the entire eastern coast of the U.S. and the Caribbean. If you go to the Project Tantalus Facebook page here, you’ll be able to find out how you could help and exactly what is entailed.

Samples will then be sent to labs for analysis. Mark Olson told C&EN, ““For the majority of the population, you can’t do anything. This is an opportunity, I think, for people to get involved and be part of the larger picture.” He also feels it will set a pattern for social networking sites to become used more and more for research projects.

For more on this go to C&EN. This seems a great way to use the power of the people to endeavour to find a solution for environmental pollution. What do you think of the initiative? We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this new use of social networking sites.