Scientists Fire Lasers at the Sky to Control Lightning

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January 24, 2023

Hello all,

Scientists have found a way to make lasers even cooler: by using them to control lightning. For decades, researchers have explored the idea that lasers can act as lightning rods, but the technology wasn't quite ready for real-world storms. Now a team has tested out a powerful laser in the Swiss Alps, and demonstrated that it can indeed guide lightning along the beam's path. Read more in this week's top story.

Sophie Bushwick, Associate Editor, Technology
@sophiebushwick

Energy

Scientists Fire Lasers at the Sky to Control Lightning

Laser beams could be used to deflect lightning strikes from vulnerable places such as airports and wind farms

By Allison Parshall

Artificial Intelligence

What an Endless Conversation with Werner Herzog Can Teach Us about AI

An AI-generated conversation between Werner Herzog and Slavoj Žižek is definitely entertaining, but it also illustrates the crisis of misinformation beginning to befall us

By Giacomo Miceli

Materials Science

Ancient Roman Concrete Has 'Self-Healing' Capabilities

Mineral deposits called "lime clasts" found in ancient Roman concrete give the material self-healing capabilities that could help engineers develop more resilient modern concrete and reduce its associated emissions

By Daniel Cusick,E&E News

Archaeology

Lasers Reveal Massive, 650-Square-Mile Maya Site Hidden beneath Guatemalan Rain Forest

A sprawling Maya site has been discovered beneath a Guatemalan rain forest

By Jennifer Nalewicki,LiveScience

Renewable Energy

This Common Aquatic Plant Could Produce Buckets of Biofuel

Engineered duckweed could be a prolific "green" oil producer

By Cari Shane

Artificial Intelligence

Research Summaries Written by AI Fool Scientists

Scientists cannot always differentiate between research abstracts generated by the AI ChatGPT and those written by humans

By Holly Else,Nature magazine

Quantum Computing

Are Quantum Computers about to Break Online Privacy?

A new algorithm is probably not efficient enough to crack current encryption keys—but that's no reason for complacency, researchers say

By Davide Castelvecchi,Nature magazine

Climate Change

Exxon's Own Models Predicted Global Warming--It Ignored Them

Scientists working for the oil giant Exxon in the 1970s and 1980s estimated temperature increases with remarkable accuracy. Those findings could now be used as evidence in climate litigation

By Chelsea Harvey,Lesley Clark,Benjamin Storrow,E&E News

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"A new ultra-low-power method of communication at first glance seems to violate the laws of physics."

Joshua R. Smith and Zerina Kapetanovic, The Conversation

FROM THE ARCHIVE

The Man Who Figured Out Lightning

Until Heinz-Wolfram Kasemir came along, scientists had it mostly wrong

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