Laser-Made Rain! German Scientists Succeed in Zapping Air to Make Clouds (Video)


Image via video screen grab

Oh yes indeed, German scientists have done it - a rain machine complete with lasers. In a lab environment, they were able to successfully zap a laser at a room full of water-saturated air sitting at a cool -24 °C. The result was rain clouds. And the next step in the experiment...make it work outside. Easy peasy, right? Well, not so much, but preliminary attempts have shown that it does indeed work, at least to a certain extent.
New Scientists reports that making actual rain clouds is next up for the scientists working on this cloud machine. According to Jérôme Kasparian at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, who is on the research team, each laser pulse is a 220-millijoule pulse within a 60 femtosecond time-frame, which is an intensity "equivalent to the power of 1000 power plants."

And while conditions have to be just right, Kasparian thinks that the results from this experiment which was repeated in the skies of Berlin shows promise for real world application.

From New Scientist, "His team sent pulses into the autumn sky, focussed 60 metres up. Nothing could be seen with the naked eye, but weather LIDAR, which uses lasers to measuring light scattering in the atmosphere, confirmed that the density and size of water droplets spiked when the laser was fired."

The team plans to keep plugging away at input settings and they're hoping that their efforts will pay off soon in allowing scientists to create rain whenever they want.

It's not exactly a new idea - nor necessarily a very smart one, since we're now seeing the problems inherent in trying too hard to control nature - but it's understandable that, in the face of an intensified water cycle, scientists continue to pursue the possibility of making rain in a more surefire way than dances or prayer circles.

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Tags: Concepts & Prototypes | Ecology