News / Science & Technology

HAARP Scientists Push for Funding for Facility in Alaska

Antennas for the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program [HAARP] - a high-energy radio physics project - are seen near Gakona, Alaska.
Antennas for the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program [HAARP] - a high-energy radio physics project - are seen near Gakona, Alaska.
George Putic
One of the most wide-spread conspiracy theories of recent years has concerned a radio-frequency facility in a remote part of Alaska, started by the military in 1993 and known by its acronym HAARP. Critics allege the government was trying to control the weather or even people’s minds. Scientists who worked there say the fears are completely unfounded, though, and they now are fighting to preserve the project from being shut down.

The late inventor Nikola Tesla, whose ideas and designs contributed to our modern electricity supply system, claimed it is possible to send power through the air.

Dennis Papadopoulos, a Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Maryland, said Tesla was a genius.

“He had a lot of wonderful ideas. About 10 percent were great and the 90 percent ended up being crack-pottish,” said Papadopoulos.

Sure, we can send some power through the air, that is how we listen to the radio, watch TV and talk through mobile phones, but radio waves deteriorate with distance, and even more so when they pass through water. That is one of the reasons the U.S. military began the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, or HAARP.

The 12-hectare facility has rows of towering antennas, 180 in all, each with a transmitter. Together, they can send up to 3.6 million watts into the ionosphere, the electrically conductive part of the upper atmosphere that can 'bounce' radio signals back to earth.

Papadopoulos, who was involved in the research at the Alaska facility, said one of the military's major interest at the time the project's conception was communication with submarines on patrol.

“To communicate with submarines, you have to have very low frequencies, which means wavelengths which are a thousand kilometers or larger. To create those with ground stations, you have to have installations that were half the [size of the] state of Wisconsin,” he said.

He said the idea was to turn the ionosphere into a giant antenna to transmit signals underwater.

The United States also was concerned with the possibility of a nuclear bomb blast in the atmosphere increasing the density of electrons in the radiation belt and disabling all its satellites.

Papadopoulos said so little was known about the ionosphere that each new experiment led to new discoveries.

“We discovered for the first time that we could create our own little ionosphere, namely we can increase the density of electrons and create patches, which we could use as reflectors of any frequency we want, so we can really guide even gigaherz waves around,” he said.

But controlling the weather? Or causing earthquakes? The idea that an individual project could have an effect greater than the polar vortex, the energy of the sun or even the total sum of human interactions with nature is rather difficult to believe, said George Washington University Space Policy Institute Director Scott Pace.

“There are a lot of conspiracy theories because people tend to believe that somewhere, someone, some human is in control. The actual answer is that things are much more chaotic and much more not subject to our control," he said.  "Mother Nature does not care and trying to understand what is going on with nature is much broader and bigger than any individual project.”

Scientific advances and shrinking budgets caused the U.S. military to propose closing the facility this year. Papadopoulos said the international scientific community would like to keep HAARP open, and offers to contribute to its $5 million annual budget have come from Canada, Britain and Taiwan.

Congress is expected to decide soon whether to accept that help.

You May Like

Computer Crash Halts US Visa, Passport Operation

Problems with database have resulted in extensive backlog of applications, affected State Department's consular offices all over the world More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

World Bank: Boko Haram Stalls African Aid Projects

Islamist group’s terrorism sets back agriculture, health efforts in Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid