Friday, June 10, 2016

Artificial meteor showers might become the new fireworks

When the 2020 Summer Olympics begin in Tokyo, attendees might find themselves looking up into the night sky to see an unprecedented public spectacle. If an event production firm called ALE Co. has its way, an artificial meteor shower will begin, a spray of tiny manufactured objects falling from space and igniting in the Earth’s atmosphere upon reentry.

These artificial meteors will be dropped by satellite.

Mixed in amongst the television signals and invisible communications relays bouncing down from space will be minuscule particles, only a few millimeters in size, made from elements such as lithium, calcium, strontium, rubidium, and copper, each of which releases a different hue when burned. ...

Like planet-spanning showerheads of light, such shows could augment a presidential inauguration, a state funeral, an international holiday, or even be enlisted for narrative purposes. Ten years from now, a Christmas celebration could involve a historical reenactment of the Star of Bethlehem, using a combination of Iridium flares and artificial shooting stars; famous meteors from myth and history could be recreated at appropriate times of year.
--Geoff Manaugh, The Atlantic, on upping the ante on spectacle