Over the weekend, news broke that in a worst-case scenario, BP estimated in internal documents that its hole in the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico could spew 100,000 barrels (4.2 million gallons) of oil per day into the sea.
It's easy to get lost in the numbers. This staggering new figure is 100 times bigger than the company's "first" estimate of 1,000 barrels day released shortly after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20. Since then, estimates have slowly ratcheted up, from 5,000 barrels to 19,000 to the currently accepted range of between 35,000 and 65,000 barrels a day. The top end of this would mean the well is pouring out an Exxon Valdez-sized amount of oil every four days.
Above, an anonymous user of the development kit for Unreal Tournament 3 — a "first-person shooter" game generally played for the thrill of killing your friends as fast and often as possible — has posted a short movie of what 25,000 barrels of oil would look like stacked around a pillar 15,000 feet high (so each level of the tower is 20 barrels).
In this surreal simulation, you get a sense of the truly enormous scale of the amount of oil involved in the Gulf spill.
Still, bear in mind this video was made in late May, when the leak was thought to be a good deal smaller. Now this represents less than one day's worth of gushing from a spill that's been going for over two months.