(Republicaninformer.com)- Scientists have successfully steered lightning bolts using a laser for the first time in human history.
The experiment was conducted at the highest point in the Swiss Alps during a particularly intense storm one year ago.
The accomplishment was achieved by a team of researchers who directed quick laser pulses toward a cluster of thunderstorms for over six hours. The instruments monitoring the blasts from the laser could detect four bolts of lightning that had been diverted off their path.
The laser deflects lightning strikes, allowing the electrical discharge to travel via a less difficult route. When laser pulses are sent into the atmosphere, the refractive index of the air shifts, which causes the pulses to contract; this causes the pulses to become so powerful that they ionize the air molecules around them.
This results in a continuous chain of what the researchers call filaments in the sky. These filaments are regions in which air molecules rapidly heat up and race away at supersonic speeds, leaving behind a channel of ionized air with a low density. These channels, which only exist for a few milliseconds, have a higher electrical conductivity than the air around them, and as a result, they provide a route that is simpler for the lightning to follow.
Many people worry that the newly discovered power to steer lightning bolts will be put to evil use, even though the new feat can potentially stop forest fires and protect big buildings from being struck by lightning.
Weather manipulation for military purposes has a long and illustrious history. During the Vietnam War, the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) carried out Operation Popeye, a seed-clouding operation. This operation caused monsoon rain to impact the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which in turn caused damaged crops and catastrophic mudslides.
A test phase of Project Popeye was approved by the Department of State and the Department of Defense, and it was carried out during the month of October 1966 in a strip of the Lao Panhandle located in the basin of the Se Kong River.