In a move that probably should have happened sooner, but I'm frankly glad is happening at all, the newly established Interagency Alternative Technology Assessment Program has put out an open call for white papers describing alternative (Read: Anything we haven't tried already) solutions for the oil spill—everything from damage assessment and restoration to wellhead control. I think this is great news and I'm hoping that some of you have the technical expertise to have new ideas or improved ideas that could help. Time for Makers to be big damn heroes. That said, if you have an idea and you don't have a background in this kind of engineering, talk to somebody who does before you call the number in the link above. Reaching out to a bigger brain trust is a good thing, but we don't want to bog this program down with purely speculative concepts at a time when it needs to be moving with a quickness.
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.