Doing Something About It/Cloud Dancers; Weather; Scientific American Presents; by Pendick; 6 Page(s)
Water. Everybody needs it. Almost everybody who has it could use more of it. And those who don't have it would do almost anything to get it. For millennia, the traditional technology for obtaining water was simple enough-a hole in the ground. Shamans and charlatans alike also appealed to the sky to boost their water supplies. Half a century ago in a laboratory in Schenectady, N.Y., scientists came up with an entirely new version of the tribal rain dance: cloud seeding. By scattering chemical "seeds" in rain clouds, they hoped to augment natural rainfall to replenish water tables and reservoirs.
Rainfall enhancement, as its practitioners like to call it, remains just one variation of the much older dream of controlling the weather. Taming tornadoes with A-bombs, short-circuiting lightning storms with metal chaff, smothering hurricanes at sea, quashing damaging hail-all have been proposed or attempted since that fateful day in Schenectady.