Re: Mother nature

Anders Sandberg (
15 Sep 1999 19:35:19 +0200

"David Lubkin" <> writes:

> Given quadrillions of sensors and lots of computational power, how far in
> advance can we predict severe or extreme weather and seismic events?

It depends on their Lyapunov exponents; the uncertainty increases exponentially over time. I haven't seen any actual numbers (they likely vary from climate to climate and place to place) but likely the upper limit for hurricanes is on the order of days. Seismic events might be even worse, since they are likely initiated by very small slips that lead to crack formation. It is much easier to estimate the probability of different sized quakes or hurricanes in the near future than predict exactly when they will appear.

> How can we divert or dissipate them?

Some experiments (US navy, I seem to recall) have been done on seeding hurricanes for rain, hoping to dissipate the energy. Unfortunately the effects appear to be small, and research was discontinued when people began to worry about liabilities if a manipulated hurricane hurt somebody.

> The only idea I've ever heard is somehow using strategically placed,
> low-yield, clean nuclear weapons, either for earthquakes or for
> tsunamis. What would happen if you sent a terawatt power beam from
> orbit to the eye of a hurricane?

>From my understanding, nothing much. The eye is an area of low
pressure where hot humid air rises to the high atmosphere; making it hotter will only fuel the hurricane a bit more. Disrupting the flow seems hard, since there are many cubic kilometers of air flowing towards it at high velocities that would restore the flow after a disruption. You need to cool down the sea driving it. Maybe something like the solution in Barne's _Mother of Storms_ where ice crystals are spread in the stratosphere (using comet ice, in his case) to cool down the sea ahead of the hurricane.

> Can we use our advanced warning
> and automatically move all structures out of range?

Depends on their size and speed; if people live in utility fog or easily nanofactured houses it would be quite easy to move away from an area and rebuild if necessary. Only valuable immobile structures such as historical sites or big structures need to be protected.

> Are there natural planetary forces strong enough to damage a
> diamondoid beanstalk?

I guess the wind forces on a beanstalk can be significant; they might not damage it but cause lateral oscillations. Lightening can of course vaporise diamondoid, and I would definitely want it fireproofed.

> Beyond dealing with crises, can we have true weather control? How?

What about a planet-encompassing Utility fog?

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y