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Plan to Produce Rain

Back in 1839 James Espy claimed that rain could easily be produced by heating the air. But his plan to saturate parched farmland by building great log fires across vast stretches of the American West never materialized— for which Espy’s contemporaries were probably grateful! Later in the 19th century a new theory emerged: loud noises would bring rain. This theory was put to the test in Texas, where Robert Dyrenforth piled up enough munitions for a small war. He blasted away at the skies, but as one observer wrote, “[Dyrenforth] attacked from the front and rear, by the right and left flank. But the sky remained clear as the complexion of a Saxon maid.”

Today in the Word, July 23, 1992