An international team of researchers says that small lasers could be used to guide lightning – just like Thor’s legendary hammer, Mjölnir.
“It seems that to provide particles, you don’t need high-intensity lasers, even low-intensity lasers, like the laser indicator, would be enough,” said Agence Andrey Miroshnichenko, a researcher at the University of New South Wales in Canberra, Australia. for France Presse. The study also involved researchers from the University of Texas A&M in Qatar and the University of California in Los Angeles.
This laser could stop vegetation fires
The team says it has already tested the concept in laboratories using devices known as empty lasers, which actually create a light conduit. These lasers can short-circuit storm clouds and trigger lightning by heating micro-particles in the air.
High power lasers have made the process not only expensive, but also difficult to predict and dangerous. But, according to new research made by the team, as detailed in a paper published in the journal Nature Communications last month, the idea could work just as well using low-intensity laser pointers.
By “using a laser beam of a few hundred milliliters of power”, the “discharge threshold” of electrical charges in the air could be reduced by 30%, the team writes in the paper, allowing them to guide lightning “along a predetermined pathways in the air ”.
Although not yet tested outside of a laboratory, the technique could be used to control lightning, causing flames that have led to several major fires in Australia and the western United States in the past year.
“We can imagine a future in which this technology could induce electric shock from passing lightning, helping to guide it to safe targets and reduce the risk of catastrophic fires,” co-researcher Vladlen Shvedov of the University told AFP. Australian National Team.