Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Science News

First Artificial Aurora May Lead to Night Sky Ads 337

An anonymous reader writes "LiveScience is reporting that the military's HAARP project has had its first success generating artificial light displays in the ionosphere. They created little green speckles of manmade aurora within an existing auroral display. The work is designed primarily to 'enhance communications and surveillance systems for both civilian and defense purposes.' Next up: sky-high neon advertisements."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

First Artificial Aurora May Lead to Night Sky Ads

Comments Filter:
  • Ad Filter (Score:2, Funny)

    by fembots ( 753724 )
    Instruction: Point At Eyes [thinkgeek.com]

    Is it too early to consider Open Sky as an alternative?
  • Who owns the sky? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RLiegh ( 247921 ) * on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @09:13PM (#11558029) Homepage Journal
    and what's their contact info?
    • Who Steals the Sky? (Score:5, Informative)

      by handy_vandal ( 606174 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @09:35PM (#11558219) Homepage Journal
      HAARP isn't really about pretty light shows.

      It's about military-industrial applications:

      * Detection and Imagine of Underground Structures Using ELF/VLF Radio Waves [fas.org]

      * Angels Don't Play This Haarp [amazon.com]

      -kgj
      • The initial post states quite clearly that a major portion of this is for military purposes, so that was a bit redundant (except for the "Angels Don't Play This HAARP" mention, which is instead a bit quackish).

        There are quite legitimate reasons for producing an aurora. Amateur radio operators have used auroras to communicate over long distances for decades over decades. I don't blame the government for looking into this, although there certainly is a valid argument as to whether creating a large phenomenon
        • by handy_vandal ( 606174 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @10:51PM (#11558728) Homepage Journal
          The initial post states quite clearly that a major portion of this is for military purposes, so that was a bit redundant ...

          A reasonable objection. However, the nature of these military purposes is not spelled out. The first link in the original post does lead to technical information about the project. But the second link in the original post leads to a lightwight story about the pretty lights, not much more. And nowhere in any of these sources do we read about the radical weapons possibilities, e.g. using HAARP to heat the ionosphere so that it bulges up into space in order to deflect incoming ICBM's.

          Furthermore, when I made my post, most of the other posts were jokes about the pretty lights -- I figured those posters needed a clue.

          ...(except for the "Angels Don't Play This HAARP" mention, which is instead a bit quackish).

          Agreed, that book is a bit quackish. But not, I think, entirely quackish -- it raises serious issues, worth considering. In any case, there are numerous reviews from differing viewpoints on the Amazon page, which seems useful to me. I took care to provide the Amazon link, and not a link to some certifiably conspiratorial site such as rense.com, for precisely that reason.

          There are quite legitimate reasons for producing an aurora. Amateur radio operators have used auroras to communicate over long distances for decades over decades.

          Agreed. All good and fine -- I'm a man of science, I too want to figure out how things work by experimenting with the nature of things. But I wouldn't want to leave the impression that HAARP is pure science and nothing more, when it does appear to have profound military applications which, if misused, could seriously fuck up the world.

          -kgj
      • HAARP isn't really about pretty light shows.

        It's about military-industrial applications:

        Precisely. It is about taking one more job (the weather) out of the hands of the Almighty and into the claws of the military-industrial complex. Above all, these devices are strategic weapons intended for the manipulation of weather systems over rival countries, with serious economic and humanitarian consequences. It's ingenious; is there a better way to surrupticiously wage war than to screw up some other country

        • by B3ryllium ( 571199 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @11:33PM (#11558998) Homepage
          this is why living in canada is fun ...

          "What are you going to do? Make it SUNNY and WARM?!"
        • Ask 10 Americans if the military should manipulate the weather to destroy crops, cause floods or draughts, or other kinds of mayhem in some faroffistan and 8 of them will say "KICK THEIR ASSES!".

          There will never be hearings. Americans enjoy their military too much.
        • by Evil Pete ( 73279 ) on Thursday February 03, 2005 @06:20AM (#11560610) Homepage

          I call bullshit on this. I've been arguing with crackpots for over 10 years about this. It doesn't take much knowledge of plasma physics to understand what this is for and what it can and can't do. People either seem to think it is for a) manipulating the weather, or b) beaming thoughts into your head (I kid you not). Ok, the last one is by definition for the tin foil hat brigade. The weather modification stuff just doesn't make sense. It is bouncing very low frequency radio off the ionosphere ... those layers are way way up above the troposphere where the weather is for starters and if you beam energy using HAARP to somewhere else it will also pass right through the troposphere ... and anyway just think how much energy it would require to alter the atmosphere by inductive heating by a grossly inefficient method using a transmitter that is also very inefficient. Bahh. Silver iodide or just spreading a crop disease is just so much easier.

      • A conspiratorial fearmongering post moderated UP on /.? I'm shocked! Sigh, if this were being done for evil government/military(oh no, be afraid!) purposes why would they publish in nature!!? Did you even look at who wrote the inanely titled "angels don't play this haarp"? If you did you would see that it was written by someone who thinks that: "The present state of technology will open [amazon.com] the next millennium with incredible possibilities. with electronic telepathy, microclusters technology, computer to human
    • Hmmm.

      root # whois sky
      No whois server is known for this kind of object.

      Couldn't tell ya.
  • welcome (Score:5, Insightful)

    by subzero_ice ( 624972 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @09:14PM (#11558036)
    welcome more light pollution.
    • by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @09:21PM (#11558101)
      ions--> chemical change --> problems.

      Considering that Freon is a wonderfully inert substance at ground level that gets changed into an ozone eating monster at altitude under high UV, one wonders whether hosing the atmosphere with highly charged particles is a good idea.

      I have not RTFA, but I hopefully this is done over the US and not in in a far away place like was done by the nuclear testing bastards.

      • by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @10:26PM (#11558565)
        Considering that Freon is a wonderfully inert substance at ground level that gets changed into an ozone eating monster at altitude under high UV, one wonders whether hosing the atmosphere with highly charged particles is a good idea.

        Huh? How do you figure this? One thought doesn't follow from the other.

        UV breaks the stable bonds in Freon, producing chlorine radicals among other things. This is bad because chlorine in that electronic state does not usually exist there and the chlorine catalyzes the breakdown of ozone.

        This "HAARP" process sends radio pulses up into the ionosphere to excite the free electrons in the plasma that exist at that height. The exited electrons strike ordinary air molecules. This is nothing that doesn't happen already. Auroras occur every day. The only real difference here is the direction of the incoming radiation. Thunderstorms have a similar atmospheric chemistry.

        Not that I support this development at all- while this may have been a technically brilliant experiment, it threatens to spawn a new form of advertising. This is going to become really annoying if it catches on. And the astronomers are going to hate it.
    • Yeah, imagine it now, climb to a nice overlook on a clear night, maybe with you special someone, sitting back to watch the stars and in the sky.

      "Refinance you home, Call Earl at 555-Loan"

      Wonderful.

      Some astronomer gets the latest shot from his telescope and an incredible image is ruined by a add for Outback Steakhouse.
  • by winkydink ( 650484 ) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @09:14PM (#11558040) Homepage Journal
    OK son, that's the big dipper, the little dipper, and over there to the right of the Cialis ad is Orion. No, that's not his schvantz, that's his bow son.
  • Just what we need: more ads in our lives
  • by freelunch ( 258011 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @09:16PM (#11558054)
    Anyone have one of those green lasers?

  • adverts? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Coneasfast ( 690509 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @09:16PM (#11558056)
    The process is not well understood, but scientists speculate it could one day be employed to light a city or generate celestial advertisements.

    do we reall need. "En|@rge Ur PeNI5" 30 miles high in the sky?

    what about a feed of the latest slashdot stories? would increase efficiency of nerds worldwide?

    any other suggestions?
    • Yeah, we do (Score:5, Funny)

      by the grace of R'hllor ( 530051 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @09:23PM (#11558116)
      Sure we do. I see an end to spam.

      1) They light up the sky.
      2) Track the source of the advertisement to a geographical region
      3) Shoot the fuckers (for fun! no profit!)

      It is a problem that will solve itself.

      • Re:Yeah, we do (Score:5, Interesting)

        by fireman sam ( 662213 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @09:48PM (#11558307) Homepage Journal
        "3) Shoot the fuckers"

        Do they have to be spammers, can't we just shoot anyone who floods the night sky with any form of light.

        For example, Most of the street lights around my area will project light up to 40 degrees ABOVE horizontal. Not only is this a waste of energy but it makes the stars almost impossible to see.

        On a better note, last night many parts of Sydney was in blackout because of some storms. Best night to see Saturn and Jupiter and for the first time my daughter found out why the milky way is called "milky".

  • by digitalgimpus ( 468277 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @09:16PM (#11558059) Homepage
    A guy shines a laser pointer in the Sky, and the FBI is after his ass. You think there going to allow this? I think not. They will consider it a airline safety issue (hence homeland security) until they can pass a separate law.

    Then the sky will chance based on that terror warning system.

    So get ready for yellow and orange nights!
  • by Raynach ( 713366 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @09:16PM (#11558064) Homepage
    Next up: sky-high neon advertisements.

    Did anyone else automatically think, "Just like Cowboy Bebop!"?

    Yes, marketing within the most vulnerable demographic: space bounty hunters.

    • What is stopping someone from setting up a laser and printing a visual image right on the moon...
      Something planet sized like a big heart with an "I love you Jenn" right in the middle?
      Granted I don't know about the science behind it or if a general population comercial laser would have the power to do it...
      But if I can write on my wall with my cat laser play toy, why can't I write on the moon?
      • But if I can write on my wall with my cat laser play toy, why can't I write on the moon?

        Yes you can, but the moon is about 2100 miles across

        Even the best laser will disperse to a spot a few miles across on the moon [usra.edu]. When it hits there, it needs to be bright enough to be visible here. and it needs to be much larger.

        Imagine the moon as a circle 2100 pixels across. For the writing to be visible on earth, the illuminated line probably needs to be 25 to 50 miles across. And bright enough to shine back 235,0

  • by EEBaum ( 520514 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @09:17PM (#11558072) Homepage
    ...welcome the chance to beat the living daylights out of the first idiot to broadcast an advertisement.
  • by PornMaster ( 749461 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @09:19PM (#11558085) Homepage
    The article talks about possibly lighting urban areas with this, but to me, it sounds like a HUGE waste of energy. I'd rather see dirigibles with fluourescents than irradiating the sky (and any planes/satellites/birds overhead) with what doesn't instead just keep going out into space.
    • I'd rather see dirigibles with fluourescents than irradiating the sky

      I'd rather they not completely kill off amateur astronomy.
    • I don't remember if it was discovery or nat-geo - they had a short documentariy on this setup - their explanation was atmospheric control, though they did say (probably accurately) that the site needed much more funding and a massively larger antenna array for it to be of any practical use. Spoke about the different treaties preventing them from moving the project much further at the present time.

      They were talking an array spread over a couple of hundred 'football fields' to be effective - many other poste
  • by Dancin_Santa ( 265275 ) <DancinSanta@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @09:20PM (#11558091) Journal
    The ionosphere is an amazing thing. Circling and enveloping the Earth from pole to pole, it captures and blocks much of the deadly radiation from the Sun. Without it, we'd be as dead as Deimos.

    So what's the big deal with shooting a few billion particles at it from ground level? Well, those particles, if you've studied any physics at all, are highly charged and very high in energy. That means that as they travel through the ionosphere, they are blasting a hole (albeit on a tiny scale) through the atomsphere. These holes, unlike the Aurora activity caused by the Sun, are directed straight through. The Sun's rays travel perpendicular to the ionosphere, so although there is a lot of particle activity from the Sun, it is mostly absorbed and bent in to the shape of the Van Halen radiation belt. It's a good system, and produces some really beautiful natural artwork.

    But poking holes in the ionosphere that lead directly out can lead to any number of consequences. The least among these is that the ionosphere somehow regains and replenishes itself with charged particles. The worst is that a "leak" in the ionosphere leads to a complete destruction of the radiation-blocking area that keeps us alive.

    Put advertisments on the Moon, or fly giant reflective satellites around the Earth. Just don't be trying to put a hole in our ozone on purpose.
  • by FoXDie ( 853291 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @09:23PM (#11558113) Homepage
    Yet again I have to say... Nikola Tesla owns you.
    • There are numerous refrences in Margaret Cheney's book about how Tesla managed to "change the colors of the sky" or something to that effect with his "generators". How true that is, i dont know, but comming from a man who predicted the "bouncing" of earth, brought us AC, as well as patented, if not even invented the radio, remote control and wireless transmission of electricity should come as no surprise. And yet in his time nobody saw the potential in most of his inventions. Granted he was full of hot air
  • God (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I think it would be fun to make people think God is speaking to them.
  • HAARP is a weapon? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by xasper8 ( 137598 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @09:25PM (#11558139)
    I am not proclaiming to be an expert on this subject... in fact I am far from it.
    But if I remember correctly I believe that I read some articles about the true purpose of HAARP was conceived as a weather control device to be used in a military fashion. Can anyone correct me on this info?
    Here is an interesting link - (which may or may not support my post...
    http://www.earthpulse.com/haarp/
    • HAARP [alaska.edu] is a scientific endeavor aimed at studying the properties and behavior of the ionosphere, with particular emphasis on being able to understand and use it to enhance communications and surveillance systems for both civilian and defense purposes.

      (cutnpaste), but i think this is more likely than anything else.

      and it seems some ordinary people there will get somewhat pissed about enquiries about them destroying us all. .)

      whoops: Can HAARP create an artificial aurora? [alaska.edu]. oh.
  • From the Article... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jmcmunn ( 307798 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @09:25PM (#11558140)
    The process is not well understood, but scientists speculate it could one day be employed to light a city or generate celestial advertisements.

    Those seem like two completely different options there...help humanity by providing light to a city, or numb the mind of humanity a little more by advertising in the auroras in the night sky.

    Really, we should just float huge space banners geosynchronously over all of the big cities. 24 hour exposure, plus in the daytime it could block harmful UV rays from reaching Earth. Argh...can't we have ANY physical space not filled with advertising?
    • can't we have ANY physical space not filled with advertising?

      Fortunately, my ass is unlikely to become an advertising space any time soon...Wait a minute... Eddie Bauer jeans patch?

      THAT WASN'T PART OF THE DEAL, EDDIE BAUER! Curse you and your comfortable denim!
    • Argh...can't we have ANY physical space not filled with advertising?
      --
      Get a Free Zen Micro Mp3 Player! [zens4free.com]


      I can't tell if you're funny or not.
  • Excellent (Score:5, Funny)

    by eremitic ( 831609 ) <chris@eremiELIOTticdesign.org minus poet> on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @09:25PM (#11558142) Homepage
    Batman will be pleased. Now the bat signal will be more visible than ever.
  • Advertisements in the sky?

    Light pollution is bad enough ALREADY can you imagine if there was man-made super-energized particle signs in the sky, what would be left of the natural beauty of the stars?

    Shouldn't something like this be illegal unless it was for good use? Ruining the night sky for me just about does it.
  • Leave us the sky you bastards!
  • Skypr0n? (Score:2, Insightful)

    What happens when they shoot up a sky pr0n spam from a liberal state and it is seen by a neighboring conservative state?

    A sky ad promoting San Francisco's Gay Pride being seen by those in neighboring conservative New Mexico?

    Or when I project my famous image of myself wearing my clear plastic wedding dress from an offshore projector and it's seen by the fine folks in South Carolina?

    If these things catch on, they will go down in price.

    In 10 years or so (just like the digital camera), you may start seeing
  • Watch Out! (Score:5, Funny)

    by tonyr60 ( 32153 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @09:28PM (#11558166)
    Love this from the referenced articale "We unfortunately were indoors watching the data on monitors during the experiment and were busy scrambling trying to make sure the effects were real and not some glitch with the equipment,"

    Picture in mind of geeks staring at glowing screens while the 1 MW RF beam blasts the crap out of a 747 or worse.
  • One question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Man in Spandex ( 775950 ) <prsn.kevNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @09:32PM (#11558200)
    Why?

    I'm not saying it wasn't an interesting experiment but I see _no_ benefits for us, the people, the end-user. Somebody, guide me to the light but not the one saying "Enlarge this Enlarge that" >_>
  • "enhance communications and surveillance systems for both civilian and defense purposes.' Next up: sky-high neon advertisements."

    As in: a sky-high neon sign saying:

    "We're watching you..."

    (And I don't mean the North Koreans or the Chinese, either...)

  • by wytcld ( 179112 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @09:33PM (#11558209) Homepage
    Ever looked at www.haarp.net [haarp.net]? This project has kept conspiracy theorists busy for over a decade.
  • Read Asimov's short story "Buy Jupiter" - advertising on a truly large scale.
  • by dj42 ( 765300 ) * on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @09:36PM (#11558229) Journal
    Depending on how bright this, couldn't it be bad for animals, insects, life in general? Many animals use the night and day cycles so extensively that if they were "fooled" into thinking it was day when it was night, it could easily destroy eco-systems. You'll often read about how animals get confused during eclipses, think it has become night time. Anytime we significantly alter the Earth's "default settings", we're asking for trouble. Not that I can't see this as being useful if it could be isolated for lighting urban areas, which in turn could save power potentially. It's application in war, to light up the night sky is also incredible.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @09:37PM (#11558234)
    Given the light pollution in most of the world, people don't spend much time looking skyward anymore. Even if you could produce a pretty design, most people wouldn't see it.

    BTW, did you notice the transmitter power. One megawatt. The frequency; HF. We're talking about some seriously expensive engineering in order to get a pattern of RF which will produce any kind of controlled image.

    On a historical note: The Canadians had the HARP project which involved Gerald Bull shooting shells into the ionosphere. Because this was the world's leading ballistic technology at the time, the Canadian government cancelled it. Canadians hate being the best.
  • So how long until we have the plans for an open source anti-satellite missile? Seems like an open source solution to a societal problem.
  • If we get sky spam I'm starting a monkey-wrenching party. If I have to see ads for the next "world's deadliest car crashes"/"most arrested Mexicans and black people"/"most brainwashed Americans" special on FOX instead of the stars shit's gonna break. I'm fucking serious.
  • someone having a brick put through their window.
  • And so ads continue to push and push into places where they don't belong.

    Ads originally had a good purpose. They were a great way to support a service that was free or very cheap. You got your free radio or network TV (cable TV at first was meant to be ad-free), or your newspaper for a couple of cents. For getting all that content very cheap or free, it was understood that there would be ads, and these ads kept the service going.

    Now modern society is coated with advertisements everywhere in sight. Any s

  • "The natural aurora is created when very high energy particles emitted by the sun, reach the Earth's vicinity, are swept toward the Earth's magnetic poles, and collide with gas molecules existing in the upper atmosphere. The energy involved in this process is enormous but is entirely natural and it has been a normal event throughout Earth's history."

    "HAARP is so much weaker than these naturally occurring processes that it is completely incapable of producing any optical effects that can be seen without us

  • ...was the color of television, tuned to a Diet Coke ad.

    /Obligatory Neuromancer reference
    //See also Bruce Sterling's The Zenith Angle

  • Sounds like the plot to a bad movie [imdb.com].
  • As an amateur astronomer, I get bugged when I have a night of observing planned and aurora pops up.

    Now, a *nice* aurora show is one of the most wonderful things around, and I will NEVER complain about that. Most of the time, however, it's not a nice show, just a general glow that just wrecks night sky viewing without being worth watching of its own merit.

    Every few years someone drags up some form of sky advertising; lunar, satellite, now aurora. It never comes to pass, and I hope it never does.

    Most peo
  • Oh great, sky spam!

    "Over there the Milky Way...and over there, next to the penis enlargement ad, is Orion."
  • by phillymjs ( 234426 ) <slashdot&stango,org> on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @10:44PM (#11558680) Homepage Journal
    It's been tried before, and somehow it manages to get shot down. Astronomers really don't like people fucking with their ability to work, and surprisingly the astronomy lobby has successfully managed to put the kibosh on these sort of things so far.

    Last time I remember an attempt at something like this was 1989, when the French wanted to commemorate the centennial of the Eiffel Tower by launching into orbit a bunch of reflective balloons forming a glowing ring in the sky. More info here. [man.ac.uk]

    ~Philly
  • by BlueMonkey ( 128825 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @11:32PM (#11558995)
    Imagine this over Iraq

    All your base are belong to us!

The aim of science is to seek the simplest explanations of complex facts. Seek simplicity and distrust it. -- Whitehead.

Working...