Michio Kaku
Professor of Theoretical Physics, CUNY

Can We Control the Weather?

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Every week Dr. Kaku answers a question from our readers. This week Bruce Vang asks "Are we ever going to develop a machine that can control the weather somewhat?"

Michio Kaku

Michio Kaku is a futurist, popularizer of science, and theoretical physicist, as well as a bestselling author and the host of two radio programs. He is the co-founder of string field theory (a branch of string theory), and continues Einstein’s search to unite the four fundamental forces of nature into one unified theory. He holds the Henry Semat Chair and Professorship in theoretical physics and a joint appointment at City College of New York and the Graduate Center of C.U.N.Y. He is also a visiting professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

Kaku launched his Big Think blog, "Dr. Kaku's Universe," in March 2010.


Michio Kaku: Mark Twain was famous for saying, “Everyone complains about the weather, but no one ever does anything about it.”  Well obviously to control the weather you’d have to have super powers.  A simple thunderstorm has more energy than a hydrogen bomb, so to control the weather is very difficult.  The CIA tried it during the Vietnam War.  They tried to seed the clouds with crystals, iodide crystals that formed nuclei to form rain clouds to stimulate a monsoon season.  The CIA did not like the Vietcong and the Vietcong would operate in the jungles, so why not stop them in their tracks by seeding the clouds and creating an artificial monsoon?  Well that was a failure and it’s very humbling knowing that many countries have tried to control the weather.  None of these harebrained schemes have actually worked.  However, now that we have global warming some people are saying that we really should think about altering the weather itself.  There is a doomsday plan proposed by a Nobel laureate and that is that if the greenhouse effect spirals out of control we should put rockets to shoot pollutants into the atmosphere to reflect sunlight back into outer space.  That would be a doomsday mechanism to control the weather, but weather control is really for a type one civilization minimum 100 years in to the future.  

Directed / Produced by
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd

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