The New Rain Dance

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Forget umbrellas. The newest way to fight Mother Nature's wrath is with cannons. Very, very loud cannons. A small group of farmers in Ohio and across the country are convinced that they've found a way to thwart the weather. They say that recently developed hail cannons, machines that emit loud, thunderous, electronic blasts, can break up hail in the air, causing it to fall to the ground as rain. Farmers call it miraculous. Scientists call it "bullshit," which is apparently scientific talk for "naah." There'd have to be "something pretty major to upset hail,'' Charles Knight, a senior scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, a Boulder, Colo.-based nonprofit told The New York Times. ''If you exploded an atomic bomb in a cloud, that might do something." Nonetheless, Ohio farmers remain loyal to the $70,000 machines. And the hail cannons are not nearly as weird as some other recent agricultural inventions, like water beds that are supposed to boost a cow's milk production, and rockets that let loose a storm cloud of iodine crystals, in an effort to induce rain. — Rebecca Meiser

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