Cloud seeding is just the beginning. Below, a handful of pie-in-the-sky ideas for controlling the weather.
Lightning is pretty. But near airports, it can threaten ground crews, sending them indoors and delaying flights. Around power stations, it can cut the juice to entire cities.
Jean-Pierre Wolf, a physicist at the University of Geneva, says that new long-range lasers can travel for miles and stop electric zingers before they fry stuff. When pointed into a storm, their beams lay down a channel of low-density, ionized molecules and plasma filaments that draws electricity—just like Dr. Evil's tractor beam seizing an asteroid—and this controls the lightning's path.