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The ability to create rain on demand goes a long way to breaking the crushing effects of a drought, but current methods are costly, environmentally damaging, and not guaranteed to work. Jérôme Kasparian, a French physicist at the University of Geneva, has an alternative, and it’s awesome: He’s developed a method of seeding condensation using powerful laser bursts. The technique is called laser-assisted water condensation, and may be the key to bringing rain with the flip of a switch.
In this episode of Motherboard’s Upgrade series, Kasparian explains how weather lasers are more precise than chemical seeding, and have the advantage of being turned off and on with a flip of a switch. And what power that switch has: Each pulse carries several trillion watts of energy. That burst is powerful enough to remove electrons from atmospheric molecules, creating charged particles that water molecules stick to, forming droplets.