reply to post by Phage
While the "drop in the bucket" argument Phage presents is certainly persuasive, it fails to address the subtleties inherent in this topic. Sure,
one could rightly compare the energy input to the ionosphere of a facility like HAARP to "heating a river with a hair dryer", but that is much too
simplistic a metaphor. The ionosphere not a river. The atmosphere is not a bucket. HAARP and the rest are not hairdryers. Here I present you with
a less-simplistic description, but I do reserve the right to make my own analogies. That said, here goes...
Imagine the effect of a 100W lightbulb on the temperature of your skin at a distance of 100 meters. Insignificant. Now imagine we replace the
lightbulb with a 100W infrared laser. Yikes.
Ionospheric heaters are designed to direct focused energy at specific frequencies to a compact region in the near-Earth environment-- they are more
like lasers than hairdryers.
No question, there is a huge influx of energy to the Earth. Photons and particles from the sun bombard the near-Earth environment with an abusive
array of assaults. A shield? Yeah we gotta shield. We have the magnetosphere. We have the ionosphere. Charged particles are captured by the
Earth's magnetic field and spiral into the ionosphere where they collide with each other and atmospheric atoms and molecules and so on...
Obviously, this is a a big subject we are examining here. It is clear that the branch of physics associated with plasma dynamics is especially
relevant to the study of the near-earth environment. Much of the research being done at these geophysical laboratories is geared towards refining our
geophysical models to better explain the dynamics of this very complex system.
I think we can all agree that the energy flux from the Sun into the earth is super-hyper-mega-HUGE! Petawatts! So where does this energy go?
Well, all sorts of places, really, but a good chunk of it, in the Gigawatts on a good day, goes into the electrojets
, which are giant rings of
plasma which carry current around the earth. There are three primary electrojet currents; one about the equator and two near the poles. These plasma
currents wiggle and wave with variations in the earth's magnetic field, and the sun's magnetic field, and with the effect of ebbs and flows in the
solar wind. They can also be modulated with carefully crafted radio signals.
Modulation of the electrojet currents has been demonstrated with ionospheric heaters numerous times. There can be a huge amplification effect. The
situation is in some ways analogous to the way a vacuum tube amplifier works. In many common vacuum-tube amplifiers, a current of plasma is disrupted
by a small input signal, causing a large variation in the main current. A small input which modifies the plasma can produce a large result.
Similarly, a relatively small amount of power can be injected into the electrojet, and result in a large overall effect. This technique is now
routinely used to generate ELF waves for numerous applications, including earth-penetrating tomography and long-distance communication.
Ionospheric heaters can be used to accelerate and direct beams of high-energy particles in the magnetosphere. By tapping-into the large flux of
charged particles which interact with our magnetic field, cyclotron resonance can be established and modulated within the local plasma environment;
effectively behaving as a particle accelerator in the sky. The capability exists to accelerate particles ranging in size from electrons to uranium
nuclei to relativistic velocities, and to then direct those particles towards other parts of the magnetosphere or even to cause them to precipitate
towards the surface.
(continued in next post)