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Pentagon-funded team developing high-powered laser to trigger lightning and rain

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Researchers are working to develop a technique to trigger rain or lightning with high-energy laser beams.

Stimulating static-charged particles in clouds with the right kind of laser could summon rain or lightning, scientists believe, but lasers cannot reliably be fired great enough distances for this to be practical.

A team of scientists from the University of Central Florida and the University of Arizona think that lasers could be fired at greater distances if a secondary beam is used as an energy reservoir to prevent the breakdown of the high-intensity primary beam.

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They recently published a report, “Externally refueled optical filaments,” on their project in Nature Photonics.

Although lasers can travel great distances, they tend to collapse inward on themselves when a beam becomes too intense.

European researchers produced artificial ice clouds last year using high-power, ultrashort laser pulses focusing on cirrus clouds in the upper troposphere, where weather occurs.

But lightning strikes have not thus far been triggered by lasers because high-intensity beams are dispersed as plasma when electrons in the air’s oxygen and nitrogen are excited by the beams.

“What would be nice is to have a sneaky way which allows us to produce an arbitrary long ‘filament extension cable,’” said Matthew Mills, a graduate student in the Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers.

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He said that wrapping a large, low-intensity beam around the stronger beam like a doughnut could provide this arbitrary extension.

Mills and another graduate student, Ali Miri, have been able to extend the pulse from 10 inches to about 7 feet, and they’re working to extend their laser pulses even further.

“This work could ultimately lead to ultra-long optically induced filaments or plasma channels that are otherwise impossible to establish under normal conditions,” said professor Demetrios Christodoulides, who is working with the students on the project.

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In theory, he said, this principle could extend lasers for about 165 feet.

Development of this technology was supported by a $7.5 million grant from the Department of Defense.

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The researchers say their technique could be used in long-distance sensors to divert lightning strikes away from buildings or in spectrometers that can identify chemical makeup.

Watch this video report posted online by GeoBeats News:

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[Image: Lightning strike via Shutterstock]


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Trump is already making up conspiracy theories about voter fraud — and it’ll only get worse

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The election is eight months away, but President Donald Trump is already crying foul.

Bloomberg News wrote Sunday that Trump is already working to undermine the American electoral process by attacking the Democratic presidential primary.

"Indeed, his campaign, with the full support of the Republican Party, is already waging a vigorous crusade to destroy his opposition. No, it's not Joe Biden, who inspired Trump's shakedown of Ukraine. Trump's gunning for bigger game: democracy itself," wrote Francis Wilkinson for Bloomberg.

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READ IT: More than 1,100 former US Department of Justice officials tell Bill Barr to resign now

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More than 1,100 former US Department of Justice officials called on Attorney General William P. Barr on Sunday to step down after he intervened last week to lower the Justice Department’s sentencing recommendation for President Trump’s longtime friend and political crony Roger J. Stone Jr.

“It is unheard of for the Department’s top leaders to overrule line prosecutors, who are following established policies, in order to give preferential treatment to a close associate of the President, as Attorney General Barr did in the Stone case,” wrote the former Justice Department attorneys in their Sunday letter. “It is even more outrageous for the Attorney General to intervene as he did here — after the President publicly condemned the sentencing recommendation that line prosecutors had already filed in court.”

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Trump campaign forced to delete #Daytona500 Air Force One photo because it was from 15 years ago

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Air Force One in flight.

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Tweeting Sunday, Brad Parscale proclaimed, "[email protected] won the #Daytona500 before the race even started."

Except, it wasn't him. As many people pointed out, the image was from 16 years ago by photographer Jonathan Ferrey, CNN reported. Parscale was forced to delete it and tweet it out again with an underwhelming photo.

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