Sure, skimmer ships, containment booms and dispersants deployed immediately, aiming to capture oil gushing from the blown well beneath the destroyed Deepwater Horizon rig. But week after frustrating week, the best available technologies failed to make much of an impact. But some people saw opportunity in this disaster — a chance to prove a new idea, or maybe build upon an old concept. The Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X Challenge, under the auspices of the X Prize Foundation, encouraged competitors to design new oil-removal technologies that would dramatically improve the state of the art. Today in New York, we found out just how far some friendly competition and a tidy sum can push the technological envelope.