September 23, 2005
Combatting the Karl Rove/KGB/Japanese Mafia Hurricane Weapon
Hurricane Steering? If high-power microwaves, able to evaporate significant amounts of water, could be beamed down from space, what if they were beamed into the path of a hurricane? Would they be sufficient to change its track? Or, if they were beamed into the eye wall of the storm, would they vaporize enough water to reduce the strength of the storm? It seems the process might affect the winds and perhaps raise the barometric pressure near the center of the storm, and could potentially reduce, say, a Category 4 storm into a Category 3.
We are far from being able to implement or even test ideas such as this, of course. Even the simplest of these ideas--space-based power generation itself--would require immense capital investment and concerted developmental effort. That effort might be worthwhile, however for two reasons. First, like the Apollo effort, the research and development would likely yield significant "spin-offs" that would feed other industries. Second, and perhaps more important as we prosecute the Terror War, in the long term it would reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.
This reminds me of an old episode of Star Trek - TNG involving a young woman who discovers that she is part of the Q. She tells Picard at some point that her parents on Earth were killed by a tornado. Picard is surprised and says something like, "A tornado? Why wasn't it prevented by the meteorological-amelioration grid?"
Yes, it's the old Utopian pipe dream of some day outlawing bad weather.
Personally, I think we should stick to working on airborne-laser volcano-lancing.
UPDATE: In the interest of accuracy, I went back and hunted down the Star Trek quote I was thinking of. I was close enough to make my point, but not so close as to qualify as an uber-geek. It's from the Season 6 episode "True Q":
DATA: I have some information regarding Amanda Rogers' parents. Records indicate that they died in Topeka, Kansas. Their home was destroyed during a tornado.
PICARD: A tornado? Why wasn't it dissipated by the Weather Modification Net?
DATA: Unknown, sir. The bodies were found in the rubble after the storm had passed.
PICARD: (a beat as he ponders) See if you can find out any details. I'd like to know more about that storm.
DATA: Yes, Captain.
It turns out later that the Q used the twister to murder Amanda's parents. I think that, if nothing else, this is a warning that although with science we can tame Mother Nature and ignore God, there are always going to be limits.
UPDATE: Well, if satellite hurricane death rays prove too far-fetched, we can always fall back on the Jello Treatment.Posted by Robert at September 23, 2005 11:35 AM | TrackBack