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CNN10 2020-10-15

CNN 10

Balance of Power in Congress; Science Behind Cloud Seeding; New Space Research; Possible Slip 'N Slide Record

Aired October 15, 2020 - 04:00 聽 ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN 10 ANCHOR: On a scale from 1 to 10 this is CNN 10. You're 10-minute objective look at news events happening around the world. I'm Carl Azuz. We've been talking a lot about the U.S. presidential election that's now 19 days away but it's not just the presidential candidates who are on the ballot. Today we're having a look at what else Americans are voting for and how things stand going into that vote. We'll start with the U.S. House of Representatives. Congressmen and women serve terms that last two years. The last election, the mid-term election was in 2018. So that means that all 435 voting seats are up for grabs. Currently the House is controlled by members of the Democratic party.

They hold the majority of 232 seats. Members of the Republican party hold 197 seats. One member of the House is a Libertarian and there are five vacancies from seats that became available this year but haven't been filled yet. In the other chamber, the U.S. Senate, members serve terms that last six years. This time around 35 voting seats, a little more than a third of them are up for grabs. Currently the Senate is controlled by Republicans who have 53 seats. Democrats have 45 seats and two Independents who vote with the Democrats have two seats.

While a lot of the focus is on the candidates for the Executive Branch, what happens with the Congressional elections can determine how easy or difficult it is for presidents to enact the policies they push for on the campaign trail. And the vote just isn't just about the Executive and Legislature. There are a number of state and local elections taking place on November 3rd as well as dozens of ballot measures. Laws or issues that voters are allowed to decide directly. So a lot about the nation, it's states and its communities can be decided when Americans go to the polls.

Next up, can humans put something in the clouds to make it rain more? That's one aspect of cloud seeding and some people are asking that question in light of the western wildfires we've told you about. Of the 78 major fires now burning in America, the National Interagency Fire Center says 19 of them are in California. Four million acres have burned there in 2020 and the forecast for northern California says low humidity and high winds will make conditions more dangerous through Friday. So is this a problem that cloud seeding could solve? The answer isn't known. There are concerns about the environmental impact of it and whether it makes financial sense to try it. But there is science behind it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So I don't know if you guys are creating clouds out of nowhere. You actually target storm systems.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If there's no clouds in the sky that has any moisture in them then we can't do anything. But what we can do it tap into what's there and assist mother nature.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kind of like a steroid kick for the clouds or something.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In all of its forms, water powers our very existence. The droplets epic journey from sky to sea is an elegant loop that sustains all life on this planet. But today, about 1 billion people are living in water scarce areas. In the United States there's California, where in one single year a historic drought cost the state over 10,000 jobs and nearly $2 billion in lost revenue. But what if we could hack into the water cycle and unlock more precious water from the clouds? A decades old technology long shunned by science may hold the key.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Since the 1946 experiments of Dr. Vincent Schaefer, we have known that some clouds can be modified through seeding to yield additional precipitation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What exactly is cloud seeding?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cloud seeding is really an enhancement of the natural precipitation process.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So basically you're just making the storm more efficient, getting more moisture out of it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To do that, pilots target clouds full of moisture and inject small amounts of an inert chemical. Then the water in the cloud condenses around the new particles and gets heavy falling to the ground as precipitation. Brian Kindred (ph) is one of the company's pilots. He steers right into the heart of storms to fire off a special kind of pyrotechnic. And what's inside of these guys?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a silver iodine mixture. The idea is that we'll be above some liquid water and as it's falling through it will turn into snow so it can fall out of the cloud.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Since the 1940s, people have been seeding clouds and watching the effects with their own eyes. But there's always been something missing. The cold, hard, scientific evidence to back it up. In 2017, the National Science Foundation funded a study to determine cloud seeding's effectiveness. Weather Modification International provided the planes. A team of scientists set out into the Idaho mountains with Doppler radars and state of the art weather stations to record what happens on the ground when planes above are cloud seeding.

Radar images show how ice crystals formed in the clouds. In the exact pattern that Weather Modification's pilots were flying. But there's still questions about its long term effects. How does making it rain in Idaho affect what happens a state over? Who owns the precious water in those clouds? And the effects of silver iodine on the environment are still debated. For now, national weather bodies have yet to endorse the practice of cloud seeding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again, man looks to his own efforts to increase the flow of water. And once again, clouds are forming in the mountains.


AZUZ: 10 Second Trivia. Which of these space stories made headlines in 2006? Was it the last Shuttle mission, demotion of Pluto, Kepler Mission Launch, or Rosetta Comet Landing. In 2006, the International Astronomical Union downgraded Pluto to dwarf planet status.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The New Horizon Spacecraft has traveled for more than nine years. Covering over 3 billion miles to give us our closest view yet of Pluto. Launched January 19th, 2006 from Cape Canaveral, the piano sized spacecraft is the first to visit the icy world discovered more than 80 years ago. When astronomer Clyde Tombaugh first saw Pluto on February 18th, 1930 he only saw a pinpoint of light. Tombaugh was using the best technology he had, a telescope at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Fast forward to 1994, the Hubble Space telescope floating high above Earth's atmosphere snapped this image of Pluto and its largest moon Charon.

Then in 1996, Hubble gave us this. A mosaic of images snapped between 2002 and 2003 but (inaudible) in 2010 to give us the most detailed view of Pluto at that time. Pluto isn't the final destination for the New Horizon Spacecraft. The probe will keep flying, heading deeper into space to explore a region scientists think is filled with hundreds of small icy objects.


AZUZ: But it's the large Earth though, still not large enough to be a planet. Icy object means Pluto. That's the subject of our next report.

Scientists have been studying pictures and info gathered from the New Horizon Spacecraft in 2015. They use them to create high resolution climate simulations to try to learn more about Pluto's environment and their findings which were just published in the Journal, Nature Communications indicate that Pluto has ice capped mountain peaks just like we do on Earth. They don't look the same. The ice's chemical composition apparently gives it a reddish color and researchers say the ice doesn't form the same way as it does on Earth, at least according to their climate simulations.

They believe there's methane gas around Pluto that's more concentrated at its higher altitudes and that's where it forms froth on the dwarf planet's mountain tops without the need for wind or precipitation. Pluto is 40 times farther from the Sun than Earth and no one's going skiing there. So why does this matter? A lead study author says the new findings show us there's a lot happening in space that we don't know about. And that even though a planet might have a mountainous landscape, like the Alps for instance, the climate can be very different from Earths. So scientists say studying these climates gives us more perspective on our own. The $700 million New Horizon's mission continues.

The Guinness World Record for longest Slip 'N Slide is 611 meters or just over 2,000 feet. This homemade one measure 100 meters but it may be the fastest. An Idaho college student named Joel Dustin (ph) built it over the summer using a lot of painter's tarps and a garden hose. His time to cover the downhill distance was 10.4 seconds and that may earn him a world record for fastest speed on a Slip 'N Slide. Joel topped out at 32 miles per hour. But why stop with a "tarpalin" when you can have a "tarpowin".

The (inaudible) leave you "muddy" and your friends might think you're "nuttier". The sun might make you "runnier" but racing down a "gutter" on a surface slick as "butter" even if you have to "crash" could help you make a "spash". I tried to "slide" a few puns in there but I don't know, maybe I'm "slippin". I'm Carl Azuz. Hey, at YouTube.com/CNN10 we heard from Gallishaw High School. You guys are awesome for watching from Seekonk,