Sci/Tech Laser triggers electrical activity in thunderstorm for the first time

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WASHINGTON, April 14—A team of European scientists has deliberately triggered electrical activity in thunderclouds for the first time, according to a new paper in the latest issue of Optics Express, the Optical Society’s (OSA) open-access journal. They did this by aiming high-power pulses of laser light into a thunderstorm.

At the top of South Baldy Peak in New Mexico during two passing thunderstorms, the researchers used laser pulses to create plasma filaments that could conduct electricity akin to Benjamin Franklin's silk kite string. No air-to-ground lightning was triggered because the filaments were too short-lived, but the laser pulses generated discharges in the thunderclouds themselves.

"This was an important first step toward triggering lightning strikes with laser beams," says Jérôme Kasparian of the University of Lyon in France. "It was the first time we generated lighting precursors in a thundercloud." The next step of generating full-blown lightning strikes may come, he adds, after the team reprograms their lasers to use more sophisticated pulse sequences that will make longer-lived filaments to further conduct the lightning during storms.

 
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Whoa, that's pretty interesting. I'm sure the world militaries will like this if it ever becomes powerful enough.
 
Whoa, that's pretty interesting. I'm sure the world militaries will like this if it ever becomes powerful enough.

I don't think so. First, you'd have to get close to the target to fire the laser, second, it takes a lot of power to do, and third, its extremely unreliable, as they can't control where the lightning hits, so it would take a lot of money and energy and time to destroy a target. Bombing and missiles are waaaaaaaay more efficient.
 
I don't think so. First, you'd have to get close to the target to fire the laser, second, it takes a lot of power to do, and third, its extremely unreliable, as they can't control where the lightning hits, so it would take a lot of money and energy and time to destroy a target. Bombing and missiles are waaaaaaaay more efficient.

True, I take that back.
 
"This was an important first step toward triggering lightning strikes with laser beams," says Jérôme Kasparian of the University of Lyon in France.

I didn't know that was one of mankind's goals. He must be very proud to do something that ammounts to nearly nothing.
 
Shrooms , stick with your opinion.

Look this is the first time , its not devloped.

First time cars were made they were crap. Now the cities are filled with them.
Maybe with some devlopment they could improve this. Pretty sure they already control lightning as they directed the lightning to the kite.
 
I didn't know that was one of mankind's goals. He must be very proud to do something that ammounts to nearly nothing.

I'm sure people thought the same about computers at their first stages, and many other things that have proven to be extremely useful.
 
Shrooms , stick with your opinion.

Well I would but missiles will always outdo anything a thunderstorm could possibly do. If Antimatter missiles are developed, then it'd make a thunderstorm weapon just silly to use even if it could blow stuff up.
 
Shrooms , stick with your opinion.

Look this is the first time , its not devloped.

First time cars were made they were crap. Now the cities are filled with them.
Maybe with some devlopment they could improve this. Pretty sure they already control lightning as they directed the lightning to the kite.

I think the first A-bomb did a lot more damage then a developed form of this could ever do, and an A-bomb is also alot cheaper.
 
Well, think about it. If they could trigger a REALLY big thunderstorm, with lightning falling down quickly (every few seconds) it could cause some damage. Maybe not as missiles, but that gives it another advantage. It could be blamed on nature, and not man.

Not bad, probably more things can come out of this.
 
If Antimatter missiles are developed, then it'd make a thunderstorm weapon just silly to use even if it could blow stuff up.

Lol That reminds me of the scene from Star Wrek where the star ship blasts the Statue of Liberty with photon torpedoes.

Not every use of controlled lightning has to be destructive. If you had some kind of large electrolytic reservoir, then maybe you collect the energy.

That would be an essentially cost-free way of "generating" electricity.

I'm all for anything that reduces the electric bill. :thup:
 
Not every use of controlled lightning has to be destructive. If you had some kind of large electrolytic reservoir, then maybe you collect the energy.

That would be an essentially cost-free way of "generating" electricity.

I'm all for anything that reduces the electric bill.
That would work perfectly in (in theory) in storm-heavy regions.
 
> That would be an essentially cost-free way of "generating" electricity.

That depends on how much it costs to fire the laser.
 
From the article:
Lightning strikes have been the subject of scientific investigation dating back to the time of Benjamin Franklin, but despite this, remain not fully understood. Although scientists have been able to trigger lightning strikes since the 1970s by shooting small rockets into thunderclouds that spool long wires connected to the ground, typically only 50 percent of rocket launches actually trigger a lightning strike. The use of laser technology would make the process quicker, more efficient and cost-effective and would be expected to open a number of new applications.

If the mere cost of a rocket (or 2, I guess) is less cost effective than generating the laser beam, then it shouldn't cost that much energy, I would think.

Hell, I can get a whole bag full of rockets for less than $50 on a 4th of July sale. :D
 
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