In a breakthrough that could permanently ameliorate the threat of thinning water supplies in California and much of the western US, a team of scientists says it will soon be able to induce rainfall and lightning storms by firing high-energy laser beams into the heavens.
Express reports that the breakthrough involves manipulating the static electricity present in clouds – which, after all, are just balls of condensation, triggering rainfall, according to experts at the University of Central Florida and the University of Arizona.
A six year drought in California was finally declared over this year but the threat for the south-western state as well as other locations in the world remains the same.
But scientists may now be able to induce rain and lightning storms using high energy lasers in a breakthrough that could potentially eradicate droughts throughout the globe.
The possibility of condensation, lightning and storms are ever present in the clouds and are containED through high amounts of static electricity.
Experts from the University of Central Florida and the University of Arizona believe that by firing a series of laser beams, they can activate the static electricity and induce rain and storms.
Here’s how it would work: One beam would be fired into the clouds to stimulate rainfall. Then, a second beam would surround the first beam to help sustain it for longer.
“When a laser beam becomes intense enough, it behaves differently than usual – it collapses inward on itself,” said Matthew Mills, a graduate student in the Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers (CREOL).
“The collapse becomes so intense that electrons in the air’s oxygen and nitrogen are ripped off creating plasma – basically a soup of electrons.”
This struggle is known as “filamentation” and creates a “light string” that only lasts for a short time before it disperses – hence the need for the second beam.
However, “because a filament creates excited electrons in its wake as it moves, it artificially seeds the conditions necessary for rain and lightning to occur.”
And, as it turns out, “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," Mills continued.
“Ultimately, you could artificially control the rain and lightning over a large expanse with such ideas.”
One of the scientists involved with the study appeared on CBS This Morning on Thursday to explain how the technology would work in more detail: