Stocks and News
Home | Week in Review Process | Terms of Use | About UsContact Us
   Articles Go Fund Me All-Species List Hot Spots Go Fund Me
Week in Review   |  Bar Chat    |  Hot Spots    |   Dr. Bortrum    |   Wall St. History
Stock and News: Hot Spots
  Search Our Archives: 
 

 

Dr. Bortrum

 

AddThis Feed Button

http://www.gofundme.com/s3h2w8

 

   

06/05/2008

Rainmaking

Following up on our space topics of last week, the Space Shuttle
Discovery did deliver the billion dollar Japanese module to the
International Space Station. More good news – the replacement
Russian pump was installed yesterday at 11:27 AM EDT and, to
quote a NASA mission update: “After a series of three tests, the
replacement pump appears to be working. Mission Control
Moscow has given the station crew a “go” to resume normal
operations of the toilet system.” Meanwhile, on Mars, Phoenix
has made at least two initial scoops of Martian soil, revealing at
the bottom of one of the scoops a whitish colored material. The
question is whether this whitish material is a salt or the surface of
a layer of water ice. Stay tuned.

Down here on Earth, I’ve had my own plumbing problems.
After a replacement of the innards of my toilet, everything works
fine. Yesterday, however, we had new dishwasher delivered and
our plumber and his son, also a plumber, worked for nearly three
hours on our nearly 70-year-old house’s plumbing system to
achieve delivery of water to the appliance. Unfortunately, I had
chosen to replace our old dishwasher with one of more advanced
technology, not knowing that its configuration was incompatible
with the old water input system. The net result was that the
plumbing cost more than the dishwasher!

To recover from the shock, I went out to gaze at the spectacularly
lush and gorgeous rhododendrons in full bloom. This has been
an unusually good year for flowering shrubs and trees in our
region of New Jersey. I remember many years ago being in New
Zealand and standing with my wife in a park absolutely in awe of
the size of one rhododendron in full bloom. We were told that
New Zealand’s volcanic soil and its climate provides superb
conditions for growth of large specimens of many plants. Now,
here in our own neighborhood, many rhododendrons have grown
to the size that so impressed us in New Zealand.

Can it be that with global warming our climate is changing and
becoming more like that in New Zealand? It has seemed to be an
unusual spring with lots of rainy days but at the same time the
total amount of rain has not been unusually high; maybe even
lower than normal. Or is it just that weather seldom seems truly
“normal”, especially if it rains more than it should on those days
I’d planned to go golfing? Of course, I can’t complain about a
washed out round of golf when compared to the death and
suffering from monster cyclones and tornadoes in faraway
countries such as Myanmar and here in the U.S.A. One can’t
help wondering whether predictions of violent weather due to
global warming are starting to come true.

If so, can we hope to, if not control the weather, at least take
some of the sting out of hurricanes and other violent weather
events? I remember some fifty or sixty years ago hearing about
work along these lines at the General Electric Laboratory in
Schenectady, New York. What prompted my recollection was an
article by Donovan Webster titled “Reining in the Weather” in
the June issue of Discover magazine. In the article Webster
describes the work at GE of Bernard Vonnegut, brother of famed
novelist Kurt Vonnegut. Bernard, in November and December
of 1946, sent up a plane to release dry ice into clouds around
Schenectady in an effort to seed ice crystals that would lead to
precipitation. Whether coincidence or not, the biggest snowfall
of the year accompanied the dry ice seeding.

I was troubled by the article and Vonnegut. He was not the
person I remembered as being the one involved in weather
modification but I suffered from the senior memory deficit and
finally was forced to a search of the Internet to find the answer.
The person was Irving Langmuir, a physical chemist whose work
on surface science brought him a Nobel Prize in 1932. I may be
wrong but I believe I heard him speak either at Bell Labs or at
some meeting. I found a history of Langmuir’s work on the Web
site of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology; its
Langmuir Laboratory for Atmospheric Research is devoted to the
study of cloud processes leading to lightning and rain.

Langmuir was involved in the study of icing of aircraft in the
1940s, along with a member of his group, Vincent Schaefer, who
had joined GE as a machinist. He and Langmuir, wanting to
study how water freezes in clouds, went to Mt. Washington,
known for its at times horrific weather, to carry out their studies.
(I once rode the cog railway up to Mt. Washington in August
shortly after a storm that had driven snow onto telephone poles
so forcefully that clumps of snow more than a foot in length were
extending horizontally from the poles.) Understandably,
Schaefer didn’t enjoy the weather on the mountain, and came
back to GE to devise a “cold box” in which he managed to
simulate cloud formation. He then found, in July 1946, that if he
introduced dry ice into the fog in his cold box an abundance of
ice crystal formed. 1946 was to become a significant year in
weather modification.

On November 13 of that year, Schaefer and a pilot found a cloud
over the Adirondacks and from the top seeded it with dry ice
particles. Snow began falling from the cloud’s base and cloud
seeding was born. Earlier that year, Langmuir brought Bernard
Vonnegut into the group. Vonnegut had also done work on icing
and on freezing in solutions. He decided that it would be better
to find some chemical compound that would nucleate ice crystals
in clouds and finally came up with the compound silver iodide.
Silver iodide’s crystal structure was sufficiently close to that of
ice that, indeed, on November 14, Vonnegut introduced silver
iodide particles into Schaefer’s cold box and got ice crystals to
form. Then, as mentioned in Webster’s article, over a period of
four days in November and December, Vonnegut sent up a plane
to seed clouds with silver iodide.

The history of Langmuir and his colleagues from that point on is
fascinating and controversial. They went to New Mexico, where
storms and cloud formation was ideal for their work. There were
attempts to modify rainfall in that desert area, as well as attempts
to tame a hurricane. The latter may or may not have led to a
change in course toward Savannah, Georgia and the seeding was
described as a “low Yankee trick”. GE’s lawyer’s were
becoming concerned about the seeding experiments leading to
lawsuits and Langmuir was encouraged to stop. Seeding went
out of favor and any efforts were low key.

Langmuir died in 1957 and seeding still goes on. Today, for
example, Salt Lake City in Utah depends on weather
modification to keep its airport open, according to the Discover
article. It seems that from October to March there are frequent
fogs that would close the airport. The fog forms when a front of
warmer air sweeps in over colder air in the Salt Lake Valley
between the Wasatch and Oquirth mountains. When this occurs
or is about to occur, the call goes out to a company known as
Barken Fog Ops. Up goes the company plane and several boxes
of dry ice particles, which are dumped on top of the fog bank.
Very soon after the dumping, ice crystals begin forming and a
hole opens up in the fog. Sometimes the seeding is so successful
that a snowstorm of a few hours duration occurs. Even with the
snowstorms, the program is so successful that the airport saves
tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars that would be lost
for each plane that would have been unable to land or take off in
the fog. About 450 planes a day arrive at the airport.

Another successful program, seeding with silver iodide, to
prevent or minimize hail damage to crops has been going on in
North Dakota for over three decades. The silver iodide seeding
may not prevent the hail entirely but does tend to make the
hailstones smaller, lessening the damage. Crop insurance
company statistics comparing seeded and nonseeded areas
showed a 45 percent fewer number of hail damage claims in the
seeded areas.

There’s much more that could be said about seeding and weather
modification but for now I’ll be content if it doesn’t rain on
Tuesday, my golfing day.

Allen F. Bortrum



AddThis Feed Button

 

-06/05/2008-      
Web Epoch NJ Web Design  |  (c) Copyright 2016 StocksandNews.com, LLC.

Dr. Bortrum

06/05/2008

Rainmaking

Following up on our space topics of last week, the Space Shuttle
Discovery did deliver the billion dollar Japanese module to the
International Space Station. More good news – the replacement
Russian pump was installed yesterday at 11:27 AM EDT and, to
quote a NASA mission update: “After a series of three tests, the
replacement pump appears to be working. Mission Control
Moscow has given the station crew a “go” to resume normal
operations of the toilet system.” Meanwhile, on Mars, Phoenix
has made at least two initial scoops of Martian soil, revealing at
the bottom of one of the scoops a whitish colored material. The
question is whether this whitish material is a salt or the surface of
a layer of water ice. Stay tuned.

Down here on Earth, I’ve had my own plumbing problems.
After a replacement of the innards of my toilet, everything works
fine. Yesterday, however, we had new dishwasher delivered and
our plumber and his son, also a plumber, worked for nearly three
hours on our nearly 70-year-old house’s plumbing system to
achieve delivery of water to the appliance. Unfortunately, I had
chosen to replace our old dishwasher with one of more advanced
technology, not knowing that its configuration was incompatible
with the old water input system. The net result was that the
plumbing cost more than the dishwasher!

To recover from the shock, I went out to gaze at the spectacularly
lush and gorgeous rhododendrons in full bloom. This has been
an unusually good year for flowering shrubs and trees in our
region of New Jersey. I remember many years ago being in New
Zealand and standing with my wife in a park absolutely in awe of
the size of one rhododendron in full bloom. We were told that
New Zealand’s volcanic soil and its climate provides superb
conditions for growth of large specimens of many plants. Now,
here in our own neighborhood, many rhododendrons have grown
to the size that so impressed us in New Zealand.

Can it be that with global warming our climate is changing and
becoming more like that in New Zealand? It has seemed to be an
unusual spring with lots of rainy days but at the same time the
total amount of rain has not been unusually high; maybe even
lower than normal. Or is it just that weather seldom seems truly
“normal”, especially if it rains more than it should on those days
I’d planned to go golfing? Of course, I can’t complain about a
washed out round of golf when compared to the death and
suffering from monster cyclones and tornadoes in faraway
countries such as Myanmar and here in the U.S.A. One can’t
help wondering whether predictions of violent weather due to
global warming are starting to come true.

If so, can we hope to, if not control the weather, at least take
some of the sting out of hurricanes and other violent weather
events? I remember some fifty or sixty years ago hearing about
work along these lines at the General Electric Laboratory in
Schenectady, New York. What prompted my recollection was an
article by Donovan Webster titled “Reining in the Weather” in
the June issue of Discover magazine. In the article Webster
describes the work at GE of Bernard Vonnegut, brother of famed
novelist Kurt Vonnegut. Bernard, in November and December
of 1946, sent up a plane to release dry ice into clouds around
Schenectady in an effort to seed ice crystals that would lead to
precipitation. Whether coincidence or not, the biggest snowfall
of the year accompanied the dry ice seeding.

I was troubled by the article and Vonnegut. He was not the
person I remembered as being the one involved in weather
modification but I suffered from the senior memory deficit and
finally was forced to a search of the Internet to find the answer.
The person was Irving Langmuir, a physical chemist whose work
on surface science brought him a Nobel Prize in 1932. I may be
wrong but I believe I heard him speak either at Bell Labs or at
some meeting. I found a history of Langmuir’s work on the Web
site of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology; its
Langmuir Laboratory for Atmospheric Research is devoted to the
study of cloud processes leading to lightning and rain.

Langmuir was involved in the study of icing of aircraft in the
1940s, along with a member of his group, Vincent Schaefer, who
had joined GE as a machinist. He and Langmuir, wanting to
study how water freezes in clouds, went to Mt. Washington,
known for its at times horrific weather, to carry out their studies.
(I once rode the cog railway up to Mt. Washington in August
shortly after a storm that had driven snow onto telephone poles
so forcefully that clumps of snow more than a foot in length were
extending horizontally from the poles.) Understandably,
Schaefer didn’t enjoy the weather on the mountain, and came
back to GE to devise a “cold box” in which he managed to
simulate cloud formation. He then found, in July 1946, that if he
introduced dry ice into the fog in his cold box an abundance of
ice crystal formed. 1946 was to become a significant year in
weather modification.

On November 13 of that year, Schaefer and a pilot found a cloud
over the Adirondacks and from the top seeded it with dry ice
particles. Snow began falling from the cloud’s base and cloud
seeding was born. Earlier that year, Langmuir brought Bernard
Vonnegut into the group. Vonnegut had also done work on icing
and on freezing in solutions. He decided that it would be better
to find some chemical compound that would nucleate ice crystals
in clouds and finally came up with the compound silver iodide.
Silver iodide’s crystal structure was sufficiently close to that of
ice that, indeed, on November 14, Vonnegut introduced silver
iodide particles into Schaefer’s cold box and got ice crystals to
form. Then, as mentioned in Webster’s article, over a period of
four days in November and December, Vonnegut sent up a plane
to seed clouds with silver iodide.

The history of Langmuir and his colleagues from that point on is
fascinating and controversial. They went to New Mexico, where
storms and cloud formation was ideal for their work. There were
attempts to modify rainfall in that desert area, as well as attempts
to tame a hurricane. The latter may or may not have led to a
change in course toward Savannah, Georgia and the seeding was
described as a “low Yankee trick”. GE’s lawyer’s were
becoming concerned about the seeding experiments leading to
lawsuits and Langmuir was encouraged to stop. Seeding went
out of favor and any efforts were low key.

Langmuir died in 1957 and seeding still goes on. Today, for
example, Salt Lake City in Utah depends on weather
modification to keep its airport open, according to the Discover
article. It seems that from October to March there are frequent
fogs that would close the airport. The fog forms when a front of
warmer air sweeps in over colder air in the Salt Lake Valley
between the Wasatch and Oquirth mountains. When this occurs
or is about to occur, the call goes out to a company known as
Barken Fog Ops. Up goes the company plane and several boxes
of dry ice particles, which are dumped on top of the fog bank.
Very soon after the dumping, ice crystals begin forming and a
hole opens up in the fog. Sometimes the seeding is so successful
that a snowstorm of a few hours duration occurs. Even with the
snowstorms, the program is so successful that the airport saves
tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars that would be lost
for each plane that would have been unable to land or take off in
the fog. About 450 planes a day arrive at the airport.

Another successful program, seeding with silver iodide, to
prevent or minimize hail damage to crops has been going on in
North Dakota for over three decades. The silver iodide seeding
may not prevent the hail entirely but does tend to make the
hailstones smaller, lessening the damage. Crop insurance
company statistics comparing seeded and nonseeded areas
showed a 45 percent fewer number of hail damage claims in the
seeded areas.

There’s much more that could be said about seeding and weather
modification but for now I’ll be content if it doesn’t rain on
Tuesday, my golfing day.

Allen F. Bortrum