China has vowed to alter the weather when the 2008 Olympics take place in Beijing, preventing rain and other precipitation that would cause unwanted delays in the games. For decades, China's Weather Modification Office has been tasked with bringing rain to the different parts of the country, especially Beijing, where rainfall helps wash away thick pollution and dust storms. The office uses a technique known as "cloud seeding," where shells of chemicals like silver iodide are fired into the sky to attract water droplets that will form clouds and eventually fall as raindrops. For the upcoming Olympics, they plan to use variations of the cloud seeding technique to dissolve clouds rather than make them rain. The plan requires climate experts to scrutinize satellite images and airplanes to "sample" clouds to see which approach they will take. This technique seems useful, but can they create a hailstorm of donuts? What about something as simple as making a cloud that rains Hawaiian Punch? I don't think so. Until the day comes when I can get a dozen pop tarts by holding a basket out my window on a rainy day, this technology will continue to function far below its potential.
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