A Hurricane-Calming Machine?

7 August 2009 By Janine Ketterer

Now that he’s had his fill of the computer industry, Microsoft founder Bill Gates is taking on what could possibly be his greatest adversary yet – no, we’re not talking about Apple – Mother Nature. On July 9, U.S. Patent and Trade Office applications were made public and they included a proposed product submitted by Gates to slow hurricanes.

How does it work? Well, large barges would pump cold, deep ocean water into the hurricane’s path to calm the waters, supposedly causing the hurricane to slow or even dissipate.

Gates isn’t in on this one alone, however. Ken Caldeira, a climate scientist from the Carnegie Institute of Washington, is the co-inventor of the hurricane-calming machine.

According to a USAToday article, “‘By cooling a region in the path of a hurricane (over sixty square miles), models suggest we could knock a half-a-category in wind speed out,’ says Philip Kithil of Atmocean in Santa Fe, an ocean-pumping firm mentioned in Gates’s applications. ‘All the models indicate the path of the storm would be unaffected.’”

Although in theory, this machine could potentially save lives and millions of dollars in damages, the USAToday article says meteorologists are skeptical.

If Gates builds this machine and it does in fact work, giving us the ability to calm or even stop hurricanes and tropical storms, how would it affect yachting’s Caribbean season?

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