One of the most important things I learned while studying electromagnetism as an undergraduate was that the forces of nature are inescapably linked to the

For example, a satellite dish can send information over very long distances because the signal moves together in parallel lines (they stay together in a tight "beam"). A radio antenna, on the other hand, cannot transmit signals very far because the signal spreads out in three dimensions as it moves away from the antenna.

*geometry*of their surroundings.For example, a satellite dish can send information over very long distances because the signal moves together in parallel lines (they stay together in a tight "beam"). A radio antenna, on the other hand, cannot transmit signals very far because the signal spreads out in three dimensions as it moves away from the antenna.

In between these two are phenomena like radiation fading away from a power line. The fact that the power line is a

An easy way to remember this is that the geometry of the source (the antenna) and the geometry of the signal are inverses of each other. The radio antenna is effectively a single point, which in geometry has no dimensions at all, and so the signal is unrestrained and spreads over the most dimensions possible (three dimensions). The power line is a

These same kinds of relationships between geometry and potency apply to fracking and producing oil and gas (and all physical processes).

Fracking, in a horizontal well, for instance, is much like the radiation moving away from a power line. The volumes of the fracking fluid are spread out in two dimensions. As we move further away from the well (to where it is effectively a point), it becomes more like a radio antenna, spreading out in three dimensions. This is one reason why environmentalists' concerns are misplaced when they focus on the subsurface spreading of fracking fluids. With the volumes spreading in three dimensions, they don't (and indeed they can't) get very far.

On the production side, the geometry is the same, but the direction of the flow is reversed. This is significant. The initial production is coming in from all three dimensions, which makes for high initial rates. Then, overtime, the drainage becomes increasingly limited to two dimensions, as the rate of production is more and more influenced by the fact that these shales are spread out like pancakes (or geometric

To some extent, this is an oversimplification, but the overarching theme is spot-on and very useful as a framework for understanding what's going on with different types of well. It explains why shales have such high initial decline rates (because they are rapidly transitioning from three dimensional drainage to two dimensional drainage), why conventional production behaves differently (the change in the effective geometry is more gradual and less drastic), and why environmentalists don't need to be worried about direct contamination from underground fracking activities (if they are going to worry they should worry about spills happening at the surface while operators are handling the fluids).

So next time you're at a cocktail party, try this on and see if you can sound like a fracking genius.

*line*(a significant geometric feature) means that the signals interfere in ways up and down the line that prevent it from diminishing in directions parallel to the line. This has the effect of cutting off one of the dimensions over which the radiation can spread.An easy way to remember this is that the geometry of the source (the antenna) and the geometry of the signal are inverses of each other. The radio antenna is effectively a single point, which in geometry has no dimensions at all, and so the signal is unrestrained and spreads over the most dimensions possible (three dimensions). The power line is a

*line*, which in geometry has one dimension, so the signal spreads over (three minus one) two dimensions. Lastly, the satellite dish is designed to mimic a geometric plane, which in geometry has two dimensions, so the signal spreads over (three minus two) one dimension--which means almost no spreading at all.These same kinds of relationships between geometry and potency apply to fracking and producing oil and gas (and all physical processes).

Fracking, in a horizontal well, for instance, is much like the radiation moving away from a power line. The volumes of the fracking fluid are spread out in two dimensions. As we move further away from the well (to where it is effectively a point), it becomes more like a radio antenna, spreading out in three dimensions. This is one reason why environmentalists' concerns are misplaced when they focus on the subsurface spreading of fracking fluids. With the volumes spreading in three dimensions, they don't (and indeed they can't) get very far.

On the production side, the geometry is the same, but the direction of the flow is reversed. This is significant. The initial production is coming in from all three dimensions, which makes for high initial rates. Then, overtime, the drainage becomes increasingly limited to two dimensions, as the rate of production is more and more influenced by the fact that these shales are spread out like pancakes (or geometric

*planes*).To some extent, this is an oversimplification, but the overarching theme is spot-on and very useful as a framework for understanding what's going on with different types of well. It explains why shales have such high initial decline rates (because they are rapidly transitioning from three dimensional drainage to two dimensional drainage), why conventional production behaves differently (the change in the effective geometry is more gradual and less drastic), and why environmentalists don't need to be worried about direct contamination from underground fracking activities (if they are going to worry they should worry about spills happening at the surface while operators are handling the fluids).

So next time you're at a cocktail party, try this on and see if you can sound like a fracking genius.