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Hurricane, Halt!

Note to self: Next time a super-storm wipes out a major American city, do not wait two weeks to mention Ross Hoffman's research into controlling hurricanes.cane.jpgIn May '04, I wrote a bit about Hoffman and his work for Wired News:

For 25 years, Ross Hoffman has had a vision: to use tiny changes in the environment to alter the paths of hurricanes, slow down snow storms and turn dark days bright.For most of those years, Hoffman kept his ideas largely to himself. His adviser at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology told him weather control was too outlandish for his Ph.D. thesis. The chances of a buttoned-down foundation or government agency funding such research were so slim, Hoffman didn't even bother to ask.But, in 2001, all that changed. Hoffman stumbled upon a tiny, obscure cranny of the American space program -- the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts, or NIAC. In this $4 million-a-year agency, Hoffman found a place where the wildest of ideas were not only tolerated, they were welcome...With his [NIAC research grant], Hoffman tweaked a weather-prediction program to show that moving a hurricane was possible -- at least in theory. Here's how: You need a ring of satellites in orbit, channeling the sun's energy, stretching around the Earth. The machines would beam power to the planet, using microwaves. But, tuned to 183 GHz, they could also heat up small regions of the atmosphere by a degree or two. Those small changes could have enormous impact, Hoffman's simulation showed. A deadly hurricane, headed for the Hawaiian island of Kauai, drifted off into the Pacific, harmlessly."One of the great things about NIAC is that they never say, 'That's crazy, you can never build a fleet of solar-powered space stations,'" Hoffman said.In this Scientific American article from last October, Hoffman fleshes out his storm-curbing idea. If microwave-blasting satellites aren't available, he suggests, maybe we could coat "the ocean surface with a thin film of a biodegradable oil that slows evaporation."
(Big ups: /.)
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