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The above picture has not been darkened, this is Eindhoven in July. So far, it has not been a good summer. On one of many wet days rolling into July, we sat down with Edoardo Scaggiante, a student at TU/e. His Spring Thunder Machine should disperse clouds by shooting electro-magnetic fields towards the sky. Thus stopping them from producing rainfall.

A prototype should be finished in two years. It is a radical idea, a machine that will stop rain from falling down. “In fact, it is so radical that nobody has ever really tried this before. There’s no one to teach me how to do this. I have to built this thing myself.”

I don’t want to create a machine that is going to kill everybody.

edoardo scaggienta
Edoardo Scaggiante

The idea of modifying the weather is not entirely new. A German scientist did the opposite of what Scaggiante wants to achieve. In 2010, he succeeded in creating a cloud of rain in a lab, by shooting lasers at a room filled with water saturated air.  In October, 18 Chinese aircrafts went airborn, armed with Silver Iodide. The Idiode was ment to disperse clouds above Tiananmen Square, which would lead to a dry National Day Parade in Beijing. It did not rain that day, but it is hard to check whether this was due to the Iodide, there was a fifty percent change of rain that day.

Do not kill everyone
“What the Chinese did, I can not do. Most of all because I do not want to create a machine that could kill everyone. Silver Iodide is toxic”, Scaggiante says.  The way  his machine works should be harmless according to the young Italian scientist.  “Although it might be wise to not make any testruns near an airport, because there is no telling yet on which way the electro-magnetic fields might mess with the airplanes.”

It is an old scientific issue, with numerous modern questions. If clouds are dispersed in one place, will rain fall twice as hard in another?  Will we be able to remove pollution from our cities, but will those polluted clouds end up in neighbouring countries like Germany or Belgium? And most of all: Is a scientist in stopping rain from coming down in fact trying to play god?

According to Scaggiante these are all very much questions for the future. He mainly wants to focus on the question whether controlling the clouds through magnetic fields is possible in a safe way. Based on the idea of Magnetic Bouyance. In this technique only one scientist took a first step towards a design. Nikola Tesla drew a first blueprint for the technique which Scaggiante is about to experiment with.

“But no one knows how he went about his business, or how much progress he made. And I can hardly ask him”, the young inventor says. He is clear in his good intentions with the machine. “Tesla once said: ‘Science is a personal perversion, except if its end goal is the betterment of mankind’. Also, if my machine is harmful or dangerous in the wrong hands, it it will be 10.000 times less harmful than some of the things man has done to the earth already.”

Scaggiante is still searching for a place and a team that will allow him to build his Spring Thunder Machine. Currently, he is negotiating with several people on the High Tech Campus Eindhoven that might be able to help. This is a project to watch.