John Rennie, the host of the Hacking The Planet series, says the show will try to help predict and prepare for natural destructive forces
Anew series on Discovery Science titled Hacking the Planet tells the fascinating work of scientists developing strategies to prevent, weaken or redirect threatening weather conditions and natural phenomena, including tornadoes, hurricanes, lightning, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Host and former Scientific American editor-in-chief John Rennie says the programme will feature a series of field experiments, illustrated by unique animated graphics that will uncover strategies for potentially manipulating the earth. He will be joined by science bloggers Cara Santa Maria and Brian Malow who will help gauge the plausibility of each scenario.
“ Hacking The Planet is a production that, at least in theory, finds a way in which we could be able to end, predict or prepare for these natural forces,” he says.
Based on an idea he had a few years ago, John drew inspiration for the series from a number of different avenues. “One of my major ideas came from an article I had worked in the 1990s during my work at Scientific American . The article focussed on possibilities to some way deduce or turn away a hurricane. Though it was theoretically impossible, I felt it was something we could really progress in maybe not now, but in 100 years from now.”
Will these plans help mankind, harm the planet, or both? John says one of the things that they feel important to highlight is that we are not blindly recommending that people implement these ideas. “We are very aware of what we are doing. If we are to do anything to these kinds of gigantic phenomena, we need to be very careful that we don’t create worse problems than the ones we are trying to solve.
The name of the series was something he felt would relate better to today’s generation and a lot of children seem to like the programme. “Initially we thought of something like ‘changing the weather’ but we were dealing with volcanoes and earthquakes which are not essentially weather. The word hacking is something that gets people’s attention and though it’s perhaps a little controversial, learning the system and using the knowledge to manipulate the system is the underlying concept.”
Is a programme like this the need of the hour? John replies in the affirmative. “Because we see so many kinds of different kinds of disasters, it’s only natural for us to think of what could we possibly do to avoid these things. Climate change is real and in the future this kind of study is definitely and inevitably going to be a programme of interest. ”
On his experience on the project, John says it was fascinating and great fun. “I really had a wonderful time working on the entire project. In the first episode on hurricanes, it was great to check out wind tunnels and hurricane simulators and see robot drones that fly over a hurricane and watch it form.”
John believes it’s very beneficial to understand more about the natural world. “It is fascinating and practical for us to learn more about these forces. I don’t think it is necessarily a good idea for us to interfere, but rather we should we use the scientific knowledge that we gain from this to reduce the damage caused by these forces.”
Catch Hacking The Planet every Sunday from April 6 at 10 p.m. on Discovery Science.
ALAN MOSES RODRICKS