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Laser to control weather: Scientists believe laser can create rain for droughts

Lasers to control weather: Makes lightning and rain. This could help a drought.
Lasers to control weather: Makes lightning and rain. This could help a drought.
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Scientists believe they can now control the weather with lasers, making it rain where there is a drought. The high-energy laser beams directed into the clouds can make it rain or trigger lightening, hypothetically. While it sounds more like science-fiction, this laser beam weather technology could be a saving grace if it brings rain to places that are suffering from lack of water.

CBS News reports on April 21 that this newly enhanced laser beam rouses up the static electricity that is in clouds and while it will produce lightening, it also turns the condensation in the cloud to rain. The scientist believe that they will be able to create storms on demand.

Researchers from the University of Central Florida and the University of Arizona found that a laser beam activates those large amounts of static electricity stored in the clouds. Using a laser beam that is surrounded by another laser beam does the trick to conjure up the rain, according to Value Walk News today.

When surrounding one beam with another beam that will act as a reservoir for energy, the center beam can go greater distances than the researchers previously thought. The beam that is surrounding the center beam refuels the center beam and prevents its dissipation at long distances. This lets the beam make it all the way to and through the clouds. If just one beam was used, the beam quickly breaks down when far enough away from the point of origin.

This is what that surrounding beam guards against, it sustains the beam for longer distances than it would be able to reach on its own. What happens in the cloud is a bit complicated, but a series of collapsing and spreading of plasma, called filamentation, starts a chain of reactions that eventually excites electrons. This “artificially seeds the conditions” in the cloud necessary for rain and lightning to occur.

Seeding clouds with lasers has been done before, which has led to “some type of electrical event.” This adds risk of a lightning strike when seeding clouds with lasers. Matthew Mills, a graduate student at the UFC Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers said:

"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."

Mills said that condition for rainstorm can be generated by controlling the length of the filament. He hypothesizes that end result would be that "one can artificially control the rain and lightning over a large expanse with such ideas."

Future use of this technology in long distance sensors and in spectrometers for chemical makeups is a possibility. It was the Department of Defense that funded the development of this technology.

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