Bombing hurricanes

It seems another one is going to hit the coast somewhere, a few days after Gustav is done. I hope nobody makes the argument that this proves global warming; hurricanes are a low-frequency Poisson-distributed process and you can’t show that their rate has increased until you’ve collected data for several years, or preferably decades. Which some statistics-literate global-warming denier is sure to point out, and the best falsehood is one that is laced with truth.

That’s not where I intended to go, though; I was about to mention that I once read a science-fiction story in which precisely placed bombs of sufficient power would disrupt a hurricane as it was forming, reducing it to a mere storm. Alas, trials with merely chemical explosives failed, so they had to resort to nukes. (Very clean nukes, presumably, thus avoiding the problem of creating huge amounts of radioactive water heading inland at hurricane speed… but I digress.) Which one of the more pacifist scientists objected to, creating the story’s conflict.

Now, I’m by no means convinced this would work; a hurricane is a big, chaotic process, and such things can generally absorb a single sharp shock. You would want to perturb the situation over a long period, using lots of data and computing power; the lasers in Poul Anderson’s Orion Shall Rise are much more plausible. But still – maybe it’s just as well comrade Bush isn’t much of a reader. šŸ˜€


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Filed under Random thoughts, World

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