Science Information

Can Rain Makers Really Make Rain?


Whenever there's a drought, someone will come up with the idea of finding a rain maker, or holding a day of prayer for rain.

Now far be it for me to make light of people who are in truly desperate straits and who are prepared to try anything to relieve their precarious situation. The worst that can happen, assuming no deliberate or unknowing fraud, is that everyone has something else to think about for a day or so. For a while they have some cause for hope.

And it may indeed rain and the drought will be over. But in most cases not.

For more information on droughts, visit http://www.home-weather-stations-guide.com/drought.html

Rain making can be divided into two types - cloud seeding, which has strong scientific and engineering reasoning behind it, and, for the moment, everything else.

Cloud seeding has been used to create or increase rain for over 50 years, and while the results are a little patchy and rarely spectacular, when the right combination of cloud seeding method and clouds is present, it has been shown to work many times over, and in a cost effective way.

But what of the rest? I don't wish to question the power of prayer, which presumably transcends all physical rules, but it is worth looking at just what it would take to change the weather pattern before it is ready to change.

But first let's take a look at the rain maker's methods.

They can be divided into two parts - local knowledge and rainmaking techniques or ceremonies.

Firstly, rainmakers with a good reputation will generally be folk with a strong knowledge of local weather, climate, and seasonal changes. Some of these may be subconscious, but I think we can give them some credit for astuteness and good observational powers. This allows the rainmaker to practise his or her rituals at a time when a change in the weather seems most likely. With good local weather knowledge, chances of success will be high, and in any event, payment is usually dependent on success. It is also human nature to remember (and advertise) the successes and forget the failures.

In primitive societies, rain makers usually have an inbuilt "get out" clause. The rain making ceremony consists of certain things done by the rain maker, supported by other rituals, requirements, or prohibitions required of the community the rain maker is serving.

These may be bans on certain foods or practices, but if the rain doesn't come, who is to say that someone in the community failed to play their part, destroying the rain maker's good efforts?

And eventually, with persistence, the rain will come.

So, in a very general way, that's how the rain maker works.

But let's see what he or she is up against.

Weather is the local end result of the effects of the vast atmospheric circulation system, which works towards creating some sort of balance between unequal heating of the earths surface, the planet's rotation, transferring water from the oceans to the atmosphere and back again, variable distribution of warm and cold water currents in the oceans, and much, much more.

All this takes a huge amount of energy. Let's put it in perspective. In 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, effectively destroying it. That bomb was the equivalent of 12,500 tons of TNT, or 12.5 kilotons. An average thunderstorm generates the equivalent of 20 kilotons.

A hurricane generates the equivalent of a 10 megaton bomb - 10 million tons of TNT - every 20 minutes. Some people have asked why large bombs aren't used to divert or destroy hurricanes. Others have suggested that would be about as effective as throwing a ping-pong ball at a charging elephant.

To create rain out of nothing, a rain maker would need to control huge amounts of energy to overcome the inertia of the stable weather systems associated with droughts. With that sort of power, why hasn't the rain maker taken over the world, hopefully for the good of all, or at the very least made his fortune by affecting the results of horse races?

Copyright 2005, Graham McClung.

A retired geologist, Graham McClung has had a lifelong interest in the outdoors. And where there's outdoors there's weather. He is the editor of http://www.Home-Weather-Stations-Guide.com, where you can find reviews and advice to help you choose and use your own home weather station. You can contact him by email at information@home-weather-stations-guide.com


MORE RESOURCES:
This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at https://news.google.com/news


Science Magazine

This new material heals—not cracks—under pressure | Science ...
Science Magazine
New transparent polymer has the potential to be used everywhere polymer glass is.

and more »


Business Insider

What science says about why we get déjà vu
Business Insider
It's the sense of familiarity that feels misplaced because you know you haven't experienced the same thing before. Psychologists and neuroscientists have come up with several different theories over the years for why we experience the strange sensation ...

and more »


Live Science

No, Scientists Haven't Found a 512-Year-Old Greenland Shark
Live Science
The creature in question — a Greenland shark — does, in fact, live to be several centuries old, according to a study that was published in August 2016 in the journal Science, and which was referenced in the news coverage. But the researchers ...
Calm down, scientists didn't discover a 512-year-old shark. (It's probably like 400, tops.)Washington Post

all 59 news articles »


Fox News

Pipe bomb explosion under principal's Jeep prompts raid at science teacher's house
Fox News
A science teacher's home was raided in connection with a homemade pipe bomb that exploded under a principal's vehicle. (Blackstone Police Department). Fearing a Massachusetts high school science teacher may be breaking bad, federal agents raided Susan ...
Science teacher's home raided in connection with pipe bomb explosion outside Bellingham principal's homeMassLive.com
Feds raid science teacher's home in bombing of principal caseWCVB Boston

all 13 news articles »


Washington Post

Activism is a hot topic at the world's biggest Earth and planetary science conference
Washington Post
NEW ORLEANS — “I'm going to start with some protest 101,” Lee Rowland told the few dozen scientists who filled the windowless meeting room. “You know, basic rules for making sure if you go out and protest, you don't get arrested.” Her audience shifted ...

and more »


NPR

Science Speed-Dating Aims To Boost Accuracy In TV And Film - NPR
NPR
Have you ever walked out of a movie theater and said to your companion, "Wow, the science in that film was awesome?" You might think, here, of Jodie Foster searching for extraterrestrial intelligence in the now-classic movie Contact. Or, more recently ...

and more »


Sudan seeks a science revival
Science Magazine
In October, the U.S. government lifted economic sanctions on Sudan. Applied in the 1990s, the sanctions did not explicitly target science. But by prohibiting bank transfers to the African nation and placing stringent controls on exports of materials ...



Discover Magazine (blog)

This Apollo Rocket Stage was Smashed for Science
Discover Magazine (blog)
Within 10 minutes of a Saturn V launch, the first two stages had fallen away as the spacecraft settled into Earth orbit. Within another 10 minutes, both stages had crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. They weren't recovered for reuse; their jobs were done ...

and more »


Scientific American (blog)

Amazing Summer Research Programs for Science Undergrads
Scientific American (blog)
College students are taking their finals this week and feverishly checking the online course pages for their final grades to post. They are packing their bags to head home for the holiday break. As a newish faculty member, I know how it feels to be ...



E&E News

Climate science debate 'on hold' after White House meeting
E&E News
Earlier this week, EPA air chief Bill Wehrum attended a White House meeting with Trump energy aide Mike Catanzaro, deputy chief of staff Rick Dearborn and others to discuss the future of the debate, according to an administration official. After the ...
Trump admin puts EPA climate science debate plan 'on hold'The Hill

all 29 news articles »

Google News

home | site map | Xray Photography
© 2006