There's a lot of snickering behind hands all over the blogosphere due to the fact that James Cameron was one of the "Experts" invited to offer the government some new ideas on how to deal with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Well go ahead and laugh everybody...as long as he got a chance to chip in.
I've talked before about how when you're making a movie that involves some area you're not familiar with, you quickly learn "just enough to be dangerous". Well, that was glib and meant to be a little bit funny, but you know what...when you're James Cameron making a movie involving some area with which you're unfamiliar, you get obsessed and become an expert. The guy does have extensive experience with deep-sea submersibles.
And even if he hadn't immersed himself in the subject to the extent he has, he would still be someone who might be counted on to suggest an "outside the box" solution that just might be crazy enough to work. People who work on movies are paid to come up with creative solutions, especially directors of Cameron's caliber. Hell, one of the biggest hits the guy takes, (well...other than maybe being something of a tyrant on set), is that he's too in love with technology.
Another thing to bear in mind is that experts can easily develop tunnel vision. They may not see solutions because they know that that's not the way things are done. Once upon a time, there was a TV commercial for the U.S. Army, one of those "We do more before 9:00 a.m. than most people do all day" commercials. The only thing I remember about it is that it ended with a few tanks coming into view as they crested a hill with a glorious sunrise behind them. I heard a story...and I have no idea whether or not it's true, but I heard that the director and his Military Consultant had a huge argument over that shot. The consultant wanted realism and the director wanted a great visual. When the director described the shot he wanted, the consultant argued that "the tank commanders would never allow themselves to be silhouetted above the military crest that way." The director countered with, "Yeah, but it'll look impressive as hell. Is there any reason they can't come over the hill and stop near the top?" The consultant conceded that, no there wasn't any reason they couldn't...they just wouldn't.
Ultimately, the director got his shot of the tanks doing something that no self respecting tank commander would consider doing...and it was a great shot. It's the only thing I remember from the commercial.
Neither BP nor the government have come up with any solutions that work so far. Giving the amateurs and enthusiasts a hearing might just present something worth listening to.