Feeds

China aims artillery for a blue-sky Olympics

A silver bullet, not a silver lining

Seven Steps to Software Security

The Chinese government's weather-control programme, more accustomed to bringing down rains on parched crops, has announced a new and ambitious mission. The People's Republic is due to host the Summer Olympics next year, and if the weather dares to defy the commies it will be brought into line by force.

The Asia Times reports that Zhang Qiang, "the top weather-modification bureaucrat in Beijing", has said her office has been experimenting for the past two years with methods of ensuring a blue sky for the Chinese capital in August '08.

China's normal rain-bringer forces operate on lines not unlike the British Territorial Army or US National Guard. Chinese farmers turn out part-time to shoot silver-iodide shells and rockets into passing clouds, which supposedly makes them turn into rain. The People's rainmakers number 32,000 nationwide, and they have a formidable arsenal of 7,100 anti-aircraft guns, 4,991 "special rocket launchers", and 30 aircraft.

"Ours is the largest artificial weather program in the world in terms of equipment, size, and budget," Wang Guanghe, director of the Weather Modification Department, told the Asia Times. The communist cloud-punching weekend warriors have an annual budget between US$60m and $90m, apparently. Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency, says 250 billion tonnes of rain was artificially created between 1999 and 2006.

Of course, there's a price to be paid. Despite the fact that the part-time precipitation peasantry undergo "intensive training, lasting several weeks, before they are let loose on the artillery", the Asia Times reports that "cloud-seeding shells and rockets have sometimes gone astray, damaging homes and injuring inhabitants. Only last year a passer-by in the municipality of Chongqing was killed..."

Presumably, the cloud-busting cannonade will be delivered well upwind of the actual Olympic facilities next year, minimising the chances of the athletes and spectators being mown down by stray rounds in an inadvertent silver-iodide barrage. Anyway, the commies say the accident rate is way down over the last few years.

Zhang says that normally there would be a 50 per cent chance of "drizzle" in Beijing next August, but she's quietly confident that her crack force of regional rain-busters can eliminate that. But the commissar of the clouds warns that even the People's Republic isn't infallible.

"A heavy downpour will be impossible to combat," she said. "We try our best, but there are no guarantees of success."

Much more from the Asia Times here. ®

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
Beancounters tell NASA it's too poor to fly planned mega-rocket
Space Launch System would need another $400m and a lot of time
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.