25 April 2008
The Strange Life and Times of HAARP
By Sharon Weinberger
Some people think itís a death beam. Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens thought it could send energy to Earth, solving the energy crisis. John McCain thought it was a pork project extraordinaire. In a Tom Clancy novel, it shows up as a mind control weapon used against the Chinese. Naturally, Iím talking about High Frequency Auroral Research Program in Alaska.
HAARP really is the Moby Dick of conspiracy theories. More problematic, however, is the conspiracy theories have overshadowed the benefits HAARP may provide to the scientific community (and also confuses debates about the current military interest in HAARP, to study ways to counter the effects of High Altitude Nuclear Detonations).
In an article this week for Nature, I explore the intriguing history of HAARP, and its real purpose, both for scientists and the military:
In reality, HAARP embodies many of the struggles of Pentagon-supported science and technology. The Pentagon wants weapons, and things that support or defend against weapons, and the scientific community wants science. Thatís led to greatest irony of HAARP: as the subject of every conspiracy theory out there, the military has had to repeatedly emphasize that it is a research facility that will advance science. Yet to sustain Pentagon interest and survive congressional cuts, it has to demonstrate military relevance.
The conspiracies around HAARP are perhaps, in part, a result of that tension.