Physicist Michio Kaku explains in the video below that there has been recent progress in weather modification using powerful laser beams. Can human beings learn to control the weather perhaps by using lasers for weather modification? Should humans have that power? If so, who gets the remote control?
Michio Kaku, the co-author of String Theory, explains how physicists are learning to force clouds to produce rain, at least under laboratory conditions.
“Physicists are firing trillion watt lasers into the sky to actually precipitate rain clouds and actually bring down lightning bolts.”
Michio Kaku explains that while these weather modification experiments work in the laboratory, it remains inconclusive whether scientists have ever mastered true weather modification in the past. Even so, it has been alleged governments have been able to use weather modification even in the 1960s.
As Michio Kaku explained, while it has been alleged that various governments can control the weather, there is no conclusive evidence that true weather modification has ever been implemented.
“For decades now various Governments have been alleged to have experimented with weather control but nothing conclusive.”
Michio Kaku said governments had allegedly caused monsoons during the Vietnam War.
“In the 1960’s the CIA used this to bring down monsoons during the Vietnam War to wash out the Viet Cong?”
Michio Kaku forgot to say allegedly that time but quickly corrected himself. If governments had the means for weather modification in the past, it would presumably be top secret.
In 1946, however, Vincent Schaefer, a General Electric chemist, experimented with using dry ice to cause precipitation with some success, but it is hardly a foolproof method. Schaefer had to admit that weather modification was far more complex in nature than in the lab, according to The Atlantic.
Michio Kaku explains that now, new technology has yielded excellent results, at least in the lab. The process remains experimental, but it is believed the new technology would lead to weather modification. Michio Kaku explains the process.
“When you have water vapor and you have dust particles or ice crystals you can precipitate rain. It condenses around the seeds. These seeds can also be created by laser beams. By firing trillion watt lasers, you rip apart the electrons creating ions and these ions act like seeds, like dust particles, bringing down rain and even lightning.”
Michio Kaku believes eventually weather modification might be used to stop hurricanes, prevent droughts, or even ensure a bright day for someone’s wedding. Right now though, Michio Kaku doesn’t believe that weather modification has reached this capacity.
Oliver’s Travels, a U.K.-based company, apparently disagrees. For $150,000 they are prepared to use cloud seeding methods to burst clouds prior to the client’s wedding or other events, so it rains before the wedding not during it, according to The Atlantic. Does this work?
Michio Kaku is under the impression such methods have not been perfected, and Bruce Boe, vice president of meteorology at Weather Modification Inc. agrees, as quoted by The Atlantic.
“We don’t believe there’s a way to reliably prevent precipitation. We’re a little surprised someone else thinks they can.”
Weather Modification does, however, claim to have ways to force rain out of clouds. The North Dakota-based company carries out cloud seeding for farmers who need rainfall. Weather Modification offers both ground-based and air-based cloud seeding to give farmers the needed rain.
While Michio Kaku is optimistic that someday weather modification can be used to control hurricanes, the failure of such experiments could be disastrous. Vox explains that trying to control a hurricane can be dangerous. Sam Keen is quoted explaining how the U.S. government funded experiment of Nobel Laureate Irving Langmuir in 1947 to control Hurricane King ended in tragedy.
“To everyone’s horror, it then pivoted—taking an impossible 135-degree turn—and began racing into Savannah, Georgia, causing $3 million in damage ($32 million today) and killing one person.”
Irving Langmuir attempted to grow ice in the center of Hurricane King, believing this would cause the eye to expand and the entire hurricane to break up. It is unknown if Irving Langmuir’s experiment caused King to veer off course. It is impossible to be sure.
Bill Gates is even trying weather modification. Bill Gates’ plan is to cool off the waters in the Gulf of Mexico to reduce the power of storms. Gates filed a patent in 2009 to cool off waters using barges.
Michio Kaku is excited about the potential for weather modification, but one must wonder if humans are up to the responsibility. Who should have the power of weather modification? Should any couple with $150,000 be allowed to prevent rain on their wedding day, even if weather modification became possible?
Should the government, business, or any individual have the right to deprive others of rain, simply because they want to? Could triggering a cloudburst in one place that may have occurred in another place instead constitute theft? The ethical questions could be as complex as the scientific ones.
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While stopping a hurricane certainly sounds like a noble cause, experiments with hurricane modification could fail or have unforeseen consequences, perhaps even more drastic ones than those of the 1947 experiment to control Hurricane King.
Michio Kaku believes lasers could be used for weather modification but is harnessing the power of weather modification something humans should do?
[Featured Image by Evan Agostini and Lionel Cironneau/AP Images]