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Bill Gates vs. hurricanes

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Can Microsoft’s Bill Gates control the weather? It’s a Category 5 idea if it works.

The entrepreneur of the personal computer revolution now has set his targets on a new venture -- fighting hurricanes.

Gates has teamed up with scientists and inventors on a plan to lessen the strength of hurricanes by cooling the warm ocean waters where hurricanes thrive. He wants to kill hurricanes in their path by positioning hundreds of barges in the path of hurricanes, sort of like a giant flotilla of bathtubs.

Pipes on the barges would feed the warm water on the surface down to depths where the temperatures are much cooler. Other pipes would pump the cooler water to the surface, which supposedly would weaken tropical systems as they move over the area.

The National Hurricane Center is skeptical.

“This plan would involve many thousands of pumps. It would also disrupt other water and ocean currents elsewhere,” said Dr. Frank Marks.

And who would pay for all this?

Gates apparently is banking on insurance companies to help subsidize his plan, rationalizing that the lower the risk of hurricanes, the lower the amounts that insurance companies would have to shell out after a devastating storm.

However, maybe even Bill Gates can’t fool Mother Nature.

-- Gay Nagle Myers

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Is 'dial-a-tree' in our future?

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A story in the July 20 issue of the New Yorker called "Dial-a-tree," caught our attention. The premise: A Tree Museum.

According to the article (titled "Dial-A-Tree"), here's how it works: "Beside each tree on the sidewalk is a small light-green marker with a telephone number. The Tree Museum-goer calls the number on a cell phone, punches in that particular tree's extension, and hears a recording about the tree, or the neighborhood ... or some larger concept like global warming."

The museum is less actual "museum" than it is an outdoor public work on the Grand Concourse boulevard in the Bronx in New York, put together by an artist named Katie Holten.

But still, one of Travel Jonze's colleagues got to thinking. He sent this note along by email:

"Someday, possibly as early as yesterday, some local or national tourism agency is going to do this for famous landmarks. I could see the Park Service taking bids from technology companies to do this for scenic overlooks at the Grand Canyon, for the Lincoln Memorial, for the Washington Monument. London for Big Ben; whatever.  Remember those klunky earphones you used to rent at museums and art galleries? Well, just move it up a decade or two, and here we are."

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