Aflight with HAARPies.
HAARP, or High-frequency Active Auroral Research Project, is predicated on beaming gigawatts of microwave energy into the upper atmosphere and ionosphere to study the effect on radio transmissions and weather patterns.
What makes HAARP even more interesting is the second ill-fated try by the Italians in four years to run a tether out from the space shuttle to generate an electric current by orbiting a conductive line through Earth's magnetic field. (This, incidentally, was a notion I had in my first column for IR in April 1971, in which I speculated that the Van Allen Belts could be tapped into for their electric potential - or even short circuited.)
If HAARP in its wildest dreams does succeed in short circuiting the ionosphere to the surface of Earth, or short circuits the predicted 4x[10.sup.6]-A current powering the Van Allen Belts, I don't foresee the persistent sort of weather and radio disruption projected by Manning and Begich.
On The Laura Lee Show last December, I'd briefly speculated that another massive effect could be expected - although this was not mentioned in any conscious connection with HAARP. The mechanism I described was a colossal extraterrestrial electrical discharge that momentarily negated Earth's own weak magnetic field, resulting in an effect known as the Giauque-Debye adiabatic demagnetization - a technical mouthful meaning that with the precipitous loss of a magnetic field, an extreme cooling would result. This is rather what I anticipate would happen if HAARP somehow manages to short circuit the Van Allen Belts.
(A brief conversation with the late William Giauque 20 years ago validated this expectation, but Giauque himself was a bit nonplussed about the effect's being applied on a terrestrial scale. His own experiments with Peter Debye were specifically designed for laboratory-scale research at liquid-helium temperatures.)
But that's only a first-order effect. The follow-up outcome is so much more devastating that thoughts of destroying the ozone layer pale by comparison. I'd expect that such a massive electrical discharge would make the ionosphere flare up like a multicolored fluorescent display, sending spectacular streamers through the upper atmosphere - something Tesla himself might have relished.
What might occur next with the almost instantaneous cooling of polar air is the precipitation of the atmosphere itself over the entire polar plate. This adiabatic effect would create a vacuum hole filled by air from more temperate regions, generating cyclone-force winds that would level almost everything in their path.
If gales of such strength poured into the void left by the precipitating atmosphere, Coriolis forces would cause them to spiral about the pole counterclockwise - the same direction as Earth's rotation - carrying along considerable oceanic waters.
Further, the cumulative energy momentum of the massed atmosphere would cause it to pile up at the pole and subsequently spiral upward into space. At this juncture, massive electrical phenomena would come into play.
We cannot rule out the possibility of a Velikovskian extraterrestrial asteroidal or planetesimal fly-by with an electrical discharge that disrupts the Van Allen Belts and initiates the collapse of Earth's magnetic field. But does HAARP have the potential to generate such an electrical discharge? On first principles, the answer is unknown.
But, hey, if there were a way to make the Sun go nova, there are those among us who'd be eager to try. Success would automatically terminate the experiment, of course, but that's beside the point.
Fred Jueneman is in his third decade as R&D's speculative columnist. His new book, Raptures of the Deep, may be ordered from R&D Magazine, 847-390-2734; fax: 847-390-2618.
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|Title Annotation:||High-frequency Active Auroral Research Project|
|Author:||Jueneman, Frederic B.|
|Publication:||R & D|
|Date:||Aug 1, 1996|
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