CNN — “A team of researchers from the University of Geneva has hauled a huge laser atop a mountain to shoot it at the sky, and act as a high-tech lightning rod.
The team is led by Jean-Pierre Wolf, a Swiss physicist who’s been working with laser for more than 20 years and has been particularly fascinated with attempting to control the weather with it.
Laser creates very narrow, high-energy beams of light. Its applications range from cutting diamonds to surgery to reading barcodes, and Wolf believes he can add another to the list: protecting us from lightning.”
Many sensitive sites, such as nuclear power plants, power stations and other critical infrastructure may have insufficient lightning pro- tection and their electronic systems suffer damages due to direct or nearby lightning strikes. Similarly, thunderstorms paralyze airports every year, causing delays and requiring flights to be rerouted. A European consortium now plans to investigate and develop a new type of lightning protection using a high-power laser that will create ionized channels in the atmosphere and redirect lightning away from sensitive areas. The laser will be installed on the summit of the Säntis in the canton of Appenzell (Switzerland) and it will enter a test phase from June to September, during the peak thunderstorm season. On May 18, 2021, important elements of the experiment will be installed by helicopter. The École polytechnique (Paris, France), the University of Geneva (UNIGE, Switzerland), TRUMPF Scientific Lasers (Munich, Germany), André Mysyrowicz Consulting (AMC, France), the EPFL (Switzerland), the Haute école d’ingéniérie et de gestion du canton de Vaud – HEIG-VD (Switzerland) have joined forces to set up this European consortium.
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