Strawberry Creek by Gilman Hall facing East: photo by Coro, 13 January 2009
A diesel fuel tank used to store fuel to power an emergency generator in Stanley Hall had overflowed as fuel was being transferred from a larger nearby storage tank. A sump pump then discharged the overflow into the creek. Result: creek clogged with slick, acrid sheen of diesel oil. The signposting might as well have said:
SO IT MUST BE THEIR WATER
Four days after the spill, the creek still stinks and remains off-limits to humans, and the university has continued to maintain a hush-hush stance on how and why the accident occurred, simply citing "equipment failure".
So this benighted observer enquired of a physicist friend, who is conversant with the doings at Stanley Hall.
And learned that bio-engineering, nanotechnology and, in particular, nuclear magnetic resonance imaging technologies (all of course largely financed by government funding) are the specialities of the house.
What do you suppose was the "equipment" that "failed", the question was asked.
"Well, the emergency generator is probably intended as a backup for cooling the helium in the big nuclear resonance spectrometer," the friend said. "The helium has to be kept around two degrees Kelvin. If it gets too hot...."
"The whole joint blows up?"
"Yes, that's what would happen."
Strawberry Creek as it leaves the park: photo by Coro, 2009
We’re alone my shadow and me
You’re alone with your shadow too
The first day and the last day the same
First song same as last song
The stream weeps passing under concrete
Habitual deer have retreated
The earth is covered with vehicles
Meant to secure the unknown against us
The caged bird said this place is very pretty
Excellent for lunch fine for sleeping
But if I might ask one thing more
How come nobody thought to put in a door
Booms in place in the creek at Strawberry Creek Park in west Berkeley on Monday morning at around 11:30 am: photo by Tracey Taylor/Berkeleyside, 12 December 2011
Sheen of diesel fuel on the surface of Strawberry Creek: photo by Tracey Taylor/Berkeleyside, 12 December 2011