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High-Powered Lasers can be Used to Steer Lightning Strikes

They can be used as a great tool to steer lightning strikes in the near future as they cover a wider area, thereby increasing the safety of a populated area


While lightning rods have been used to guide lightning strikes, it is great to see a newer technology coming and changing this ancient technique. Using lightning rods is efficient because it is cost-effective, but it faces a significant drawback as it only covers shorter distances. By using high-powered lasers to steer lightning strikes, it may be possible to redirect lightning away from populated areas, reducing the risk of damage and injury.

Physicists in Switzerland tested high-powered lasers and found that the technology is a better alternative as it covers a much larger area. The study took place between June and September 2021, and scientists have yet to conduct further research. The entire setup helps ionize nitrogen and oxygen molecules, releasing electrons and creating a plasma that conducts electricity. The laser fires at an instant speed of 1,000 pulses per second and are likely to intercept lightning as it forms. 

The only two noticeable drawbacks are that they are expensive and it is still in the testing phase. While the concept is still in its early stages, there is potential for this technology to increase lightning safety. Many airports and air force missions have been experiencing delays due to lightning strikes, so a breakthrough can help accelerate things. It could also help in protecting power plants and rocket launchpads. 

According to Dr. Aurélien Houard, who helped lead the project, the technology could take a long time before we see mass applications. Yet the development of this technology is an exciting area of research, and it will be interesting to see the results of further studies in this field.

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