Controlling The Weather With Lasers, Can It Be Done?

 Scientists Investigate using Lasers for Controlling Weather: Creating rain with laser beams?Scientists Investigate using Lasers for Controlling Weather: Creating rain with laser beams?

 

For thousands of years man has wanted to control the weather. While we’ve come up with some ideas on the subject like cloud seeding, we’ve never been able to truly wrest control of it from good ol’ Mother Nature. Many people think that’s a good thing, but it doesn’t mean we haven’t stopped trying. Scientists are talking about employing high-energy lasers for the purpose of producing rain at will, but the question is should we? Is it really a good idea to open up a can of worms on a scale like this without fully understanding all the possible repercussions? Well, that’s never stopped us before.

High-Energy Laser Beams


A while back researchers at the University of Central Florida’s College of Optics & Photonics and the University of Arizona said that they were investigating the possibility of using an intense laser beam to activate static electricity in clouds in order to create storms on demand. Water condensation and lightning activity within clouds are intrinsically linked to vast amounts of static charged particles. By stimulating those particles with the right laser, we might be able to produce rain on demand. At least that’s the theory. But it’s got to be a mighty strong high-intensity beam, so scientists are considering using two.

 

Controlling the Weather with Lasers Beams: What if we could control the weather?Controlling the Weather with Lasers Beams: What if we could control the weather?

 

Two is Better than One


According to a report published in Nature Photonics not quite two years ago, we’d need to surround a primary laser with a second laser to act as a sort of energy reservoir for the first laser. This would essentially allow the central or primary beam to achieve greater distances than were previously possible. The secondary beam or “dress” beam would work by refueling the primary beam, helping to prevent dissipation, because that central beam would break down quickly if left to its own devices. In this case, two is better than one.

“Frickin Laser Beams”


While lasers are already capable of traveling great distances, Graduate student Matthew Mills at the Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers (CREOL) noted that, “When a laser beam becomes intense enough, it behaves differently than usual – it collapses inward on itself. The collapse becomes so intense that electrons in the air’s oxygen and nitrogen are ripped off creating plasma – basically a soup of electrons.” That plasma then attempts to stretch or respread the beam back out, which causes a struggle to ensue between the collapsing and spreading of an ultra-short laser pulse. The process is called filamentation, and it creates a light string that only generates until the properties of air cause the beam to finally disperse.

 

Scientists Investigate Laser Beams for Controlling Weather: High-energy lasers might trigger rainScientists Investigate Laser Beams for Controlling Weather: High-energy lasers might trigger rain

 

Advanced Technology


Mills went on to say, “What would be nice is to have a sneaky way which allows us to produce an arbitrary long ‘filament extension cable.’ It turns out that if you wrap a large, low intensity, doughnut-like ‘dress’ beam around the filament and slowly move it inward, you can provide this arbitrary extension. Since we have control over the length of a filament with our method, one could seed the conditions needed for a rainstorm from afar. Ultimately, you could artificially control the rain and lightning over a large expanse with such ideas.”

Yes, the technology would be helpful for dealing with years’ long droughts, but the question still remains: is it really such a good idea to fool with Mother Nature?