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Power Space Technology

Energy-Beaming Space Collector To Also Alter Weather? 274

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the don't-microwave-me-bro dept.
Recently we covered California utility company PG&E's ambitious deal with upstart Solaren to beam energy to earth from a space-based solar collector. What we didn't know is Solaren's patent also covers the alteration of weather elements with that very same system. "By heating up the upper and middle levels of an infant hurricane, they say they could disrupt the flows of air that power the enormous storms. Air warmed by tropical waters flows up through a hurricane and is vented through the eye into the upper atmosphere. Theoretically, you could heat up the top of the storm and lower the pressure differential between layers, resulting in a weaker storm. "
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Energy-Beaming Space Collector To Also Alter Weather?

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  • So.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 20, 2009 @12:58PM (#27649107)
    We might be giving a company the power to change our weather? Not sure how I feel about this..
  • Lots o' power (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NormalVisual (565491) on Monday April 20, 2009 @01:02PM (#27649175)
    That's gonna need to be an *awfully* big collector to harvest enough energy to make the slightest difference to a hurricane...
  • Re:So..[.] (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kandela (835710) on Monday April 20, 2009 @01:04PM (#27649221)
    Yeah, because co-operatively we are doing a great job of maintaining and looking after the current weather patterns.
  • by Reality Master 201 (578873) on Monday April 20, 2009 @01:06PM (#27649247) Journal

    If ever a story deserved that tag, this is it.

  • Re:Lots o' power (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shivani1141 (996696) on Monday April 20, 2009 @01:06PM (#27649259)
    Not to mention the fact that we obviously perfectly understand the power and role of a hurricane in terms of global weather patterns...

    Am I the only one concerned what might happen to other weather systems if we suddenly start damping hurricanes? the energy to form a hurricane comes from somewhere, if we're adding more to kill a hurricane, where is this new net total going to express itself?

  • Airplanes? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by flattop100 (624647) on Monday April 20, 2009 @01:09PM (#27649323)
    I'm guessing it would be disastrous for an airplane to fly in the "beam", no?
  • Re:So.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sudotron (1459285) on Monday April 20, 2009 @01:20PM (#27649513)
    You think that's bad? Just wait until the government introduces a new "hurricane prevention excise tax".
  • by Drathos (1092) on Monday April 20, 2009 @01:24PM (#27649601)

    Making enormous swiss cheese?

  • Re:Lots o' power (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Monday April 20, 2009 @01:26PM (#27649649)

    Probably the same as a 'no burn' policy put in place in most forests a century ago. Eventually the dry stuff builds up to the point where when it does catch fire, you're fucked.

    Imagine a hurricane formed with the energy from 5-10 damped out storms.

  • Re:Lots o' power (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chris mazuc (8017) on Monday April 20, 2009 @01:30PM (#27649709)
    From the National Hurricane Center [noaa.gov]:

    The main difficulty with using explosives to modify hurricanes is the amount of energy required. A fully developed hurricane can release heat energy at a rate of 5 to 20x10^13 watts and converts less than 10% of the heat into the mechanical energy of the wind. The heat release is equivalent to a 10-megaton nuclear bomb exploding every 20 minutes. According to the 1993 World Almanac, the entire human race used energy at a rate of 10^13 watts in 1990, a rate less than 20% of the power of a hurricane.

  • Re:Geoengineering (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Rockoon (1252108) on Monday April 20, 2009 @01:30PM (#27649715)
    Thats why the IPCC never ever ever lends any consideration to geoengineering when they produce their Assessment Reports.

    Think of all the funding they would lose when it turns out that it will only cost a million or so dollars a year for the right to pick a global mean temperature anc achieve it. Not to mention the fact that we would likely pick one that is higher than it is today...
  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Monday April 20, 2009 @01:42PM (#27649897)

    How much energy do you think it would take to have any sort of meaningful effect on a hurricane we're actually worried about?

    What happened to chaos theory? Small changes leading to major effects? Personally I think the butterfly flapping it's wings is the idea taken to a ludicrous extreme, but it must kick in at some level. I imagine as well that it's easier to disrupt a storm's organization than to enhance it.

    I'm more concerned about the possible corruption of this technology... Real Genius^10.

    Yes, because we should all base our science policy ideas on Val Kilmer comedies. Any lines you want to quote from Top Secret or Top Gun to further support your argument?

    What? Top Gun wasn't a comedy? Really?! Huh.

    what's to stop it from being used to vaporize human targets or entire CITIES from space.

    Reality and the laws of physics?

    Seriously, what's with all the BS scare tactic posts? When did Slashdot become home of the hyperventilating Luddites?

  • Re:Lots o' power (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kabocox (199019) on Monday April 20, 2009 @01:43PM (#27649913)

    Probably the same as a 'no burn' policy put in place in most forests a century ago. Eventually the dry stuff builds up to the point where when it does catch fire, you're fucked.

    Imagine a hurricane formed with the energy from 5-10 damped out storms.

    Oh, you are underestimating things. Imagine it "working" for 5-10 years or decades and then all the sudden new hurricanes are 50-100 times more powerful for a few years.

  • Re:So..[.] (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 20, 2009 @01:52PM (#27650093)

    We have been for as long as we've existed. It's called leaving it the fuck alone. I like nature's varying weather just fine. The last thing we need is to start manufacturing that too.

    If you don't like hurricanes, then you shouldn't build a fucking city right in the middle of an area that is known to have them.

  • Re:So.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by eleuthero (812560) on Monday April 20, 2009 @02:07PM (#27650337)
    ...except they will probably get one of their pet congressmen to write up a bill that 1) creates an excise tax and 2) gives the power company in question a hefty tax cut. In this way, they get the money and get to blame the government for it.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell

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