About Rationally Speaking
Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.
Friday, September 23, 2005
Shall we start a war on the weather?
Wrong. In fact, the US government conducted research from the 1960s through the '80s on how to stop or at least decrease the intensity of hurricanes, through a project called Stormfury, which cost several hundred million dollars. The idea was to drop silver iodide into clouds to facilitate the formation of ice nuclei, forming a new eyewall within the hurricane, which would collapse the original one and make the storm less dangerous. It didn't work. Hurricanes are simply too complex and powerful.
Ludicrously enough, at several points during the past decades, the suggestion has seriously been made to drop an atomic bomb inside a hurricane to wipe it away, an idea that not only smacks of environmental disaster, but is also absurdly naive once one compares the energy released by a human made bomb with that of a hurricane (according to the article referenced here, the heat energy released by a hurricane equals 50 to 200 trillion watts, or about the same amount of energy released by exploding a 10-megaton nuclear bomb every 20 minutes! Note: energy is actually measured in watt/second, as a reader of this blog pointed out).
Nope, we just have to live with nature, at least within certain limits, and it would be so much better if we didn't insist in building cities on coastal areas that are actually below water level. Sorry, New Orleans, but you really ought to go...