A gun in the clouds: the story of an experiment with the weather

A gun in the clouds: the story of an experiment with the weather

Why American skies fired from cannons at public expense, as the battle associated with precipitation and with good intentions tried to set fire to the forest, Indicator.Ru says in category “History of science”.

Now in Berlin:



758 mm Hg. article

5 m/s

In August 1891 the residents of the state of Texas suffered from drought. Crops died, people prayed to God for rain, and Congress appropriated $20000 to someone who can bring rain. This person was a Civil war veteran, lawyer patent office Robert St. George Dyrenforth.

Probably the military background Dyrenforth played a role, and he was then was common opinion that rain can cause vibration of the air. Perhaps this view was reinforced by Plutarch observed that “unusually heavy rains often come after great battles.”

In the book of 1871 “War and weather” its author, engineer, and Civil — General, Edward powers, listed more than 200 cases, when after the “work” of artillery in the Civil war had started raining.

He also proposed to test the hypothesis experimentally and to prove (or disprove) that artillery fire can cause a storm or force her to deviate from the previous course.

At that time in the USA there were still several theories about what causes rain. The author of one of them, a well-known meteorologist James ESPI, “King of thunder”, as it was called, was expressed ahead of time the idea. He believed that the clouds (and hence precipitation) occur when warm air rises, cools, and moisture from it condenseries.

However, in this context, ESPI called fire in the Appalachian mountains of the forest, to cause rains there. Fortunately, his plans met with the resistance of politicians: they feared that by learning to control the rain, ESPI will get their hands on too much power over the agrarian South.

Another idea linked the rain with the development of uninhabited areas, “the Rain is the plow”. However, it soon became evident that the construction of Railways and Telegraph lines not lets rain in arid lands. On the contrary, deforestation has increased water runoff, respectively, less moisture evaporated from the surface, and rains became less frequent. The same and ended the inning. But back to our hero and his artillery.