Science: The Cloudbusters

Ever since they arrived in Medford, Ore. in 1949, ex-Navy Pilots Harvey Brandau and Eugene Kooser have been stirring up clouds of trouble. Flying war-weary fighter planes, they have been "seeding" the thunderheads over Rogue River Valley with a secret formula they called "goop." According to the fruit farmers who have hired the flyers, the seeding causes rainfall and prevents crop-ruining hail. But many of the valley's hay and cattle ranchers feel that the flyers are nothing but cloudbusters, robbing dryland farmers of rain.

At first Brandau and Kooser used silver iodide, sprayed through extensions on their planes' exhaust pipes. Eventually, to...

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