AP answers your questions on the news, from tennis seeding to using explosives on the oil leak

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ask AP: Why not stop the oil leak with explosives?

It sounds simple enough as an approach to the Gulf oil disaster: Why not just detonate explosives at the source of the leak to seal it off and halt the gusher?

That’s one of the questions answered in this edition of “Ask AP,” a weekly Q&A column where AP journalists respond to readers’ questions about the news.

If you have your own news-related question that you’d like to see answered by an AP reporter or editor, send it to newsquestions@ap.org, with “Ask AP” in the subject line. And please include your full name and hometown so they can be published with your question.

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Ask AP can also be found on AP Mobile, a multimedia news service available on Internet-enabled cell phones. Go to www.apnews.com/ to learn more.

I am used to the way seeding is done for fencing or the NCAA basketball tournament. However, in tennis, players always seem to be facing a seed they shouldn’t be playing at a given point in a tournament. How do tennis tournaments seed?

Greg Spahr

Wilmington, N.C.

Unlike in the NCAA basketball tournament, not all entrants are seeded at all in a tennis grand slam event. Only the top 32 players receive seeds, and everybody else is randomly drawn into the bracket. That can result in some surprisingly good first-round matches.

Even among the seeded players, the bracket is not automatically set up so the No. 1 player would eventually play No. 32, for instance. Players are randomly drawn within several groups: seeds 17 through 32, seeds 9 through 16, seeds 5 through 8, seeds 3 through 4, seeds 1 and 2. That means, for example, the No. 1 seed could potentially face either the No. 3 or 4 in the semifinals, and the No. 5 or 8 in the quarters.

Rachel Cohen

Associated Press Writer

New York

Why haven’t explosives (non-nuclear) been considered as an option to seal the Gulf oil spill?

Theo Noell


Tony Wood, director of the National Spill Control School at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, said one big problem with setting off an explosion could be the huge amounts of methane coming out of the well.

Methane freezes into a slushy substance called methane hydrate at the depth and temperatures it encounters at the well. But heat, as from an explosion, could turn it back into a gas, Wood said, and that could cause a problem in three ways.

For one thing, the gas could form a bubble that grows to become immense as it rises to the surface, possibly big enough to capsize ships. Also, the gas could asphyxiate people at the suface. And because methane is flammable, it could cause an explosion at the surface, he said.

Malcolm Ritter

AP Science Writer

New York

Is there any new info on unemployment extensions?

Connie Crass

Smyrna, Tenn.

There are efforts in Congress to pass legislation that would continue extended jobless benefits through the end of November. The Senate isn’t expected to vote on the continuation until next week.

But first, let’s back up. As the economy struggled through the worst recession since the Great Depression, Congress added a total of up to 73 extra weeks of unemployment benefits on top of the 26 weeks customarily provided by states. That’s the longest period of unemployment benefits since the program began in the 1930s.

But the extended program doesn’t last forever. In fact, it expired June 2. That means that the nearly 10 million people currently receiving jobless benefits will start to gradually run out of benefits over the next six months or so, unless the extra benefits are restored. The Labor Department estimates 325,000 people will lose benefits by the end of this week.

Those benefits can be restored if legislation extending the program is passed. The legislation that includes the benefit extension also includes some controversial tax increases and may face a difficult vote in the Senate next week.

Some people have used up all 99 weeks of benefits, and with unemployment at 9.7 percent, haven’t been able to find work. There aren’t any moves afoot to add more weeks on top of the 99 that have already been approved.

Christopher S. Rugaber

AP Economics Writer


Have questions of your own? Send them to newsquestions@ap.org.

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