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One of the images related to Gates' recently filed patent
Bill Gates and several other researchers filed five patents related to hurricane control

Best known as the former chairman of Microsoft, billionaire Bill Gates now has reportedly filed several patents aiming to help one day be able to stop hurricanes that plague the Gulf of Mexico each year.

"Theodp," a well-known patent watcher, discovered the patent and then passed on the news to TechFlash.  In the patent filings, Gates and several other inventors plan to use large fleets of vessels to mix warm Gulf of Mexico surface water with colder water under the surface.

Conduits would extend from one vessel beyond the ocean's thermocline, which is an invisible line separating the warmer, mixed layer of water closer to the surface from the cooler and calmer water that is seen further below the ocean's surface.  Sunlight routinely is captured by the surface layer of ocean water, and a different vessel would be used as a heat/energy sink for water at deeper depths.

The following is an excerpt from one of the patent filings:

Below this mixed layer, however, the temperature decreases rapidly with depth, for example, as much as 20 degrees Celsius with an additional 150 m (500 ft) of depth. This area of rapid transition is called the thermocline. Below it, the temperature continues to decrease with depth, but far more gradually. In the Earth's oceans, approximately 90% of the mass of water is below the thermocline. This deep ocean consists of layers of substantially equal density, being poorly mixed, and may be as cold as -2 to C.

This isn't the first time people were interested in lowering the Gulf's surface temperature to help limit hurricanes, according to David Nolan, University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science associate professor.

Despite being one of the richest people in the world, Gates won't fund the project himself, as one of the patent filings outlines how the project would be funded.  Along with the sale of insurance policies in areas routinely hit by hurricanes, federal, state and local government agencies would help fund the project.

"Every couple of years there's a news story that gets picked up for some hurricane-suppression idea," Nolan told TechFlash recently.  "They’re all kooky in their own way. Some of them are more plausible than others, but they all face an enormous problem of scale. ... You would have to cover an incredible area with this effect to reduce the temperature of the ocean by a significant amount."

Gates previously worked with friends and Silicon Valley gurus to discuss electromagnet engines, and other tech-related subjects that they could work on.  Working alongside Gates in his latest venture is ex-Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold, although others involved in the project remain unknown.

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By SiliconAddict on 7/11/2009 2:50:31 AM , Rating: 5
Yah lets frack with a system we really don't know all that well to begin with. What's the worst that could happen?

RE: *sighs*
By CyborgTMT on 7/11/2009 3:08:16 AM , Rating: 5
What's the worst that could happen?

Blue Wave of Death?

RE: *sighs*
By Alexvrb on 7/11/2009 3:06:43 PM , Rating: 5
Sure a few people might get killed here and there, but all you have to do is reboot the ocean and you're back in business.

RE: *sighs*
By hduser on 7/11/2009 4:40:31 PM , Rating: 2
quote: What's the worst that could happen?

User Account Control:

An unidentified program wants access to your computer.

Don't run the program unless you know where its from, or you have used it before.

Hurricane Controller.exe
Unidentified Publisher



RE: *sighs*
By delphinus100 on 7/11/2009 9:20:44 PM , Rating: 5
I'm not touching it until the first Service Pack...

RE: *sighs*
By cheetah2k on 7/12/2009 11:34:21 PM , Rating: 2
And continuing with trendy OS names like Vista, the OS for this baby is likely to be called "ATLANTIS"

RE: *sighs*
By msomeoneelsez on 7/13/2009 3:16:52 AM , Rating: 2
No, that wouldnt be nearly ironic enough... remember, Vista was supposed to mean great... everyone already knows that Atlantis sinks.

Call it Denver instead.

RE: *sighs*
By DeepBlue1975 on 7/13/2009 7:49:09 PM , Rating: 2
Be sure to set it up to leave a kernel dump file, just in case...

RE: *sighs*
By Googer on 7/12/2009 3:44:33 AM , Rating: 5
I live in the Hurricane belt. When one hits, it has a tendency to knock down whole forest sections and as a Boy Scout I saw plenty. It's my hypothesis that like forest fires, hurricanes are another one of mother natures tools for renewal and getting rid of old growth and/or helping promote genetic diversity spread seeds of trees, grasses, and flowers.

Stopping hurricanes may have unintended negative environmental consequences.

RE: *sighs*
By foolsgambit11 on 7/12/2009 6:17:52 AM , Rating: 5
I get where you're coming from, although this anthropomorphizing of nature means you may have swapped cause and effect. I'd say that flora and fauna have adapted to survive and even thrive in areas hit frequently by hurricanes. Maybe it's just a tomayto-tomahto thing, since the end result is the same - stopping hurricanes may have unintended negative environmental consequences.

Besides, whether or not it stops hurricanes (most likely not), churning up the water in the gulf will have negative environmental consequences. Cooling the water at the surface would change the habitat for marine life above, probably altering spawning seasons for fish and coral. It would most likely have an effect on the feeder currents for the gulf stream, reducing its temperature (sorry England!) or rate of flow or both.

Of course, the amount of water you'd have to move to cool even a swath of the Gulf is massive. It's unrealistic at this time to expect we can do it. Maybe in 75 years or so when Gates' patent runs out, we'll have the technological capabilities to pull it off. If we haven't learned it would be foolhardy.

RE: *sighs*
By cornelius785 on 7/12/2009 5:28:03 PM , Rating: 2
I agree on the possible negative impacts that purposely upwelling cold water from the depths could out weigh the possible benefit of weaker hurricanes. The amount of dissolved 'stuff' (O2, CO2, nutrients) also varies upon depth. This may not be the best example, but look at the effects of el nino on a local (stopping the upwelling of nutrient rich water -> <food chain> -> less fish (or whatever) in the area) and global scale (major shifts in weather patterns). If history has anything to show, upsetting the expected/typical flow of nature (by man or by an 'anomally') doesn't lead to good things.

RE: *sighs*
By grandpope on 7/13/2009 7:43:36 PM , Rating: 3
I agree. California has a similar problem with the forest fires. By stopping the small fires that routinely clean the forests, a huge pile of undergrowth builds up until a massive forest fire occurs.

As a side effect, the massive fires are too hot for the native plants to survive, killing the ecosystems.

Nothing to do with hurricanes, but just another example of humans trying to f*ck with nature. *cough* *climate change* *cough*...

Highly unlikely it would work
By breakonenine on 7/10/09, Rating: 0
RE: Highly unlikely it would work
By lainofthewired on 7/11/2009 1:04:48 AM , Rating: 2
It would be easier to build hurricane resistant homes than try to control the damn things right? Sheesh.

RE: Highly unlikely it would work
By headbox on 7/11/2009 5:44:11 AM , Rating: 2
stop making sense- insurance lobbyists have an empire to maintain.

RE: Highly unlikely it would work
By maxcue on 7/11/2009 11:03:45 PM , Rating: 1
Building hurricane or earthquake-resistant housing isn't insoluble; it's the getting people to buy them or put them in sensible places that don't offer magnificent views up steep slopes that is. I don't think Bill Gates is trying to save a few hundred McMansions here, he's trying to learn to blunt the catastrophic climate changes that are coming that we can't/won't adapt to in time.

By WeatherNut on 7/11/2009 2:06:56 AM , Rating: 4
As a meteorologist, all I can say about your first paragraph is "huh?" The "jet stream" (or jet streams, actually) is ultimately driven by unequal heating across the surface of the earth (a rotating body, which is very important), primarily from equator to pole, but also from water to land. Gravity does play an important role in terms of hydrostatic balance, buoyancy, and baroclinic instability (the release of which often results in processes that are distinctly non-hydrostatic), but your wording doesn't really make sense (and I don't know what role underground metal densities have on the atmospheric circulation!).

However, I DO agree that we should focus on building structures that can better handle the stresses and forces associated with tropical cyclones. Oh, and stop building weak structure so close to the darn coast in hurricane-prone areas! The recurrence interval of Cat 1-strength winds along the Gulf coast and the eastern coast of Florida is much higher than the recurrence interval of any tornado in Plains (i.e. "tornado alley"). In the past 20 years, there has been a huge buildup along the immediate coast, and the result is a boatload of taxpayer / public money going to aid to help those whose property is damaged when the inevitable tropical cyclone visits.

RE: Highly unlikely it would work
By Durrr on 7/11/2009 7:01:43 AM , Rating: 2
You DO realize that if everyone's wage gets increased, then the net effect of that raise is nil, right? That approach causes inflation.

RE: Highly unlikely it would work
By FaaR on 7/11/2009 9:18:11 AM , Rating: 1
Inflation isn't caused solely by wage increases, it's caused by wage increases together with cost increases.

Btw, inflation can/does occur even if wage increases aren't uniformly distributed...

RE: Highly unlikely it would work
By Uncle on 7/11/2009 11:28:32 AM , Rating: 2
Lets get back to the simple. Inflation is caused by to much money chasing to few goods. Thats why we go in up and down cycles with the economy. The reason why we have a recession allowed by government for a quick fix to the possibility of inflation. Another reason why oil prices go through the roof,is to help get the recession started. Everyone drives,our goods are transported by some form of oil and its a quick way to get money out of the economy so the price of goods don't keep going up. Its about as simple as I can keep it.

RE: Highly unlikely it would work
By sbtech on 7/13/2009 8:39:51 AM , Rating: 2
With the wages increased, there will be more demand on a particular commodity at it's existing price. Since supply is not increasing, the additional demand will push the price point up thus causing inflation. Demand-supply curve - read up.

Agreed, this is basics and there are other forces at play. But, since you asked to change one variable, we have to consider that change with other things being equal. So he was right about increasing everyone's wage will negate the advantage due to inflation.

RE: Highly unlikely it would work
By HrilL on 7/11/2009 11:42:38 AM , Rating: 2
Not at all. There would also have to be a cost increase to the goods people by. I think he wants the shareholders to take home less profit so the distribution of wealth would be better.

We do honestly have a problem in your country. 1% of Americans have more wealth than the other 99% combined. This is clearly a problem. And don't expect the people with money to fix it because it is not in their interest to lose money.

The distributions of wealth is worse right now than it was during the great depression. This clearly has a lot to do with financial instability. The rich cause the problem and then end up profiting from them.

The only fix I can think of is we need more competition in every market and big corporations need to be broken up. No more massive conglomerates that control everything in our lives. We need more small companies and less massive ones. Thus the wealth would be distributed on its own. But this will never happen because the big corporations get laws passed to stifle competition in every market they belong. If our founding father saw what our countries turn into they'd be rolling in their graves.

RE: Highly unlikely it would work
By docmilo on 7/11/2009 9:11:10 AM , Rating: 3
These patents are not about ideas that may or may not work. These patents are a means of securing funding for research. It's all about the money. Results are not essential.

By sprockkets on 7/11/2009 12:55:00 AM , Rating: 5
There's a much easier way to cool down the water at sea; let a hurricane run over it and do its job.

RE: hey
By WeatherNut on 7/11/2009 1:58:24 AM , Rating: 5
That's exactly right. One of the main "goals" of a hurricane (if not THE goal) is to redistribute energy (in the form of heat) from the tropical waters to the poles. Tropical cyclones have been doing this for a long time, and they are relatively effective at it (considering the tremendous amount of energy that is transferred from sea to atmosphere). I'm always a bit skeptical at methods to mitigate a naturally-occurring atmospheric process that's primary job is to redistribute heat/energy.

RE: hey
By dflynchimp on 7/11/2009 8:06:00 PM , Rating: 3
Well the human species doesn't roll like that

Other animals evolve and adapt to fit the environment, or face extinction.

We evolve and adapt the environment to fit us, and are either better or worse for it, depending on which aisle you are on regarding climate change.

RE: hey
By msomeoneelsez on 7/13/2009 3:23:49 AM , Rating: 1
One of the main "goals" of a hurricane (if not THE goal) is to redistribute energy (in the form of heat) from the tropical waters to the poles.

Another reason to stop the hurricanes! We need to rebuild the disintegrating arctic and antarctic ice shelves!

And just for those people who don't understand internet sarcasm... that was it.

Gulf Hurricane Gates
By csimon on 7/11/2009 9:10:09 AM , Rating: 2
How do you think Central and South America will react to us diverting out hurricanes to them? The politicians will probably just palm out as they do here I suppose. At any rate I don't think Gates will have a problem with private funding for such a project.

RE: Gulf Hurricane Gates
By FaaR on 7/11/09, Rating: -1
RE: Gulf Hurricane Gates
By Gibsons on 7/11/2009 10:57:02 AM , Rating: 2
If you read the techflash article, the water pumping is to be powered by waves, so no worries there.

One big problem of course is how many of these things would you need to really make an impact. I'm guessing several thousand...

Another problem is what are the real long term climate effects of this. I live in central Texas and hurricanes are sometimes the only way get rain at the end of the summer. I'm hoping we get one pretty soon actually, it's been a very hot and dry summer so far.

Please don't take my hurricane away!

RE: Gulf Hurricane Gates
By Oregonian2 on 7/11/2009 4:30:36 PM , Rating: 2
Do hurricanes affect marine life in the seas below where they pass?

RE: Gulf Hurricane Gates
By djc208 on 7/13/2009 9:49:20 AM , Rating: 2
Close to the surface and along coastlines to some extent but not much otherwise. Submarines mored at the Naval Base just submerge during a huricane and ride it out a couple of feet down. The surface ship's have to either go to sea and run around the hurricane, or be towed inland to a protected harbor where the waves wont affect them.

By Spacecomber on 7/11/2009 12:42:53 AM , Rating: 2
I expect that we'll be hearing more about various ideas directed at managing climate change in the near future. I can't help but find it a bit ironic that some of the same people who cast doubt upon human activity already having an impact on changes to our climate will be the one's supporting intentional efforts to modify the climate, albeit in a compensatory direction. The justification for this will be that it is less expensive to manage the situation in this fashion than it will be to try to modify our current energy patterns.

Perhaps my expectations are off base, but I'm waiting to see.

By someguy123 on 7/11/2009 1:27:40 AM , Rating: 2
how is it ironic? if they doubt human activity is causing climate change that would imply that they believe climate is changing and are attempting to compensate.

By Spacecomber on 7/12/2009 5:40:11 PM , Rating: 2
I guess, like beauty and humour, irony is in the eye of the beholder (or not).

Gates is out of his depth.
By dark matter on 7/11/2009 4:32:09 AM , Rating: 2
Notice ths first thing Gates does? Slap a patent on it. So if this tin pot idea ever did work you have to pay Gates to save lives. He is such a champ.

Not that I am expecting it to work. Gates is out of his depth. Laying a few pipes to prevent hurricanes? Yeah right, it's like claiming a few large boulders strategically placed around san andreas is going to prevent an Earthquake.

RE: Gates is out of his depth.
By sieistganzfett on 7/12/2009 2:28:08 PM , Rating: 2
few large boulders stategically placed around san andreas... if it works i'll be rich since i already put in for that patent.

RE: Gates is out of his depth.
By dark matter on 7/13/2009 2:57:27 AM , Rating: 2
That's nice. Did you know I recently patented a method of communication between humans that relys on the modulation of the air between two people by means of two chords to do modulation and a membrane and cavity to receive the modulated air. You best keep that patent of yours quiet, if my lawyers hear you then you best have deep pockets.

Put that money to better use pls Bill
By Shig on 7/11/2009 10:58:15 PM , Rating: 2
I can think of a few better things he could do with that money.

By Jedi2155 on 7/12/2009 3:43:34 AM , Rating: 2
Any examples?

By foolsgambit11 on 7/12/2009 5:50:49 AM , Rating: 2
Choose any charity, give to the poor.

Wait. He already does that. He started his own charity. Besides, the article specifically mentions that he has no intention of funding this himself. How much more can you do with $0? Okay, maybe a bit more for the patent application process. Still, he's not putting much money on the line here.

By nineball9 on 7/11/2009 9:14:05 AM , Rating: 2
The introductory phrase "Best known as the former chairman of Microsoft ..." is incorrect.
Bill Gates is the non-executive chairman of Microsoft.

RE: Correction
By xander85 on 7/11/2009 9:59:54 AM , Rating: 2
Not exactly...that statement is true, that was his position prior to retiring. He will always be best known as the former chairman of Microsoft. Any other positions he held or will hold are far less prestigious. However, both statements are true because he is currently the non-executive chairman of Microsoft.

I win
By tedrodai on 7/13/2009 2:36:26 PM , Rating: 4
************************* |
************************ |
** @@@ *************...... | *sizzle*
* @@@@@ ------------=< ....... | *sizzle*
* @@@@@ ***********...... | *sizzle*
** @@@ ***************** |
************************* |
------------------------------------------------- --
My design pumps ocean water through a fire hose to put out the sun (see diagram). This tackles many vexing worldwide environmental problems. In order of execution:

1) Global ice caps melting? Your city will no longer have to worry about being the next Atlantis as we drop the world-wide sea level.

2) As the sun fizzles out, huricane-inducing warm sea water will have less heat to absorb. Less hea absorbed = cooler water = less hurricanes.

3) Not only will millions of people see lower risk of skin cancer, but the tanning salon and fake'n'bake industries will boom!

4) This method solves global warming entirely, by making it a good thing! With no more sun, we'll enter a monster of an ice age. No need to worry about the fishies...they'll still be fresh and ready-to-eat as we dig them out of the frozen water.

*sorry if the diagram doesn't display correctly...I'm on IE, and the forum drawing tools are limited

Tech has a long way to go still
By blueboy09 on 7/11/2009 12:31:10 AM , Rating: 2
imo, there's way too many variables to know the exact path of a hurricane, but as tech advances, it will bring us closer to a more precise path although its highly unlikely will ever achieve the exact known path of a hurricane. Maybe in the next 100+ years, who knows? - BLUEBOY

I'd rather trust the Corps than him.
By bersl2 on 7/11/2009 6:04:07 AM , Rating: 2
And that's saying quite a bit.

Are they really that retarded
By HrilL on 7/11/2009 11:27:56 AM , Rating: 2
Now I'm no expert but from my understanding the temperature of the water at different levels has a lot to do with how the currents work. If you change how those flow that could cause even greater problems that we don't even know about yet. Not to mention the direct impact to animal life. Nothing good will come from this.

Also as global warming (Caused by whatever factors are causing it. I'm not saying its man made. The Earth is in fact heating) happens and the earth heats up, the difference of surface temperature and water will be less and thus their will be less powerful hurricanes anyway.

By pequin06 on 7/13/2009 9:05:51 AM , Rating: 2
I'm sure these five patents will infringe upon the other weather control devices out there.

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) — An Idaho weatherman says Japan's Yakuza mafia used a Russian-made electromagnetic generator to cause Hurricane Katrina in a bid to avenge itself for the Hiroshima atom bomb attack — and that this technology will soon be wielded again to hit another U.S. city.

Our previous President didn't even need a machine.
Some say he caused Katrina with policies (Which falls under a utility patent I think) so I think we can assume that same process can be used to prevent hurricanes. Worth a shot.

By callmeroy on 7/13/2009 9:38:18 AM , Rating: 2
All jokes aside --- it all sounds great and everything but talking or writing about this idea is one thing --- now go take a look at the actual size of the gulf of the hell are they going to alter the temperatures to any siginificant degree to cause change in hurricane behavior in a large enough area?

Trumped again...
By ZmaxDP on 7/13/2009 3:09:28 PM , Rating: 2
This totally trumps my recent patent on "Not building in low-lying areas plagued by natural disasters such as hurricanes and tidal waves." I still think mine is a better solution, but I just don't have Bill's resources...

Global Warming
By ol1bit on 7/14/2009 7:09:20 PM , Rating: 2
That sounds like a great way to screw up the ocean. I would expect it would raise the temperature overall since as the water warms below the surface, the water on top could get hotter.

Kill the fish as well.

how to kill 2 birds with 1 stone
By kattanna on 7/15/2009 10:33:07 AM , Rating: 2
since the hurricanes that hit america actually spawn from the vast sands and heat of the sahara desert, why not build a few large power stations and water desalination plants and irrigate the sahara to turn it back into the lush green lands it was once 1,000's of years ago. thereby preventing the storms from building in the first place and at the same time turning vast tracks of mostly unusable land into a new bread basket.

The Day After Tomorow
By cristianowa on 7/12/2009 6:49:56 PM , Rating: 1
This history remembers me this movie ...
but it's the M$ ower doing it ...
he can's, the example is windows, it never fails !!!
they solve a big problem to create one even worse ...

Response to breakonenine
By maxcue on 7/11/09, Rating: -1
RE: Response to breakonenine
By theunit on 7/13/2009 9:08:25 AM , Rating: 1
Awesome post there!

I think its funny how everyone is oblivious to the long white streaks in the sky that build up throughout the day and settle on the population. As if we aren't modifying the weather already. HAARP. Its not fake, there is such thing as controlling the weather, just more people need to find out about it. Just my 2 cents.

"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer

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