A Temple University scientist is drawing national media attention for his new study of a concept designed to thwart the tornadoes that rip through the nation's midsection – a "Great Wall" of the Midwest.
Physics professor Dr. Rongjia Tao has raised eyebrows with his research into how a wall – or walls – might curb tornado activity in Tornado Alley, which stretches from Minnesota to mid-Texas. Specifically, Tao examines how three 1,000-foot-high, east-west walls – one in North Dakota, one on the Kansas-Oklahoma border and one in Texas – might slow twisters.
The study was published in the Bulletin of the American Physical Society. Tao plans to present his findings to members of the group in Denver in March, which is the traditional beginning of a six-month tornado season.
The idea is modeled on Chinese mountain ranges that help curb tornado activity by disrupting north-south air flow, Tao says.
But it's a wacky concept by any measure, critics say, not the least of which would be the cost of the 150-foot thick walls: $60 billion per 100 miles.
Another drawback: It wouldn't work, critics say. They called Tao's theory "nonsense" and the researcher himself "abysmally ignorant" on this topic, USA Today reports.
“Scientifically what he’s proposing, I don’t think is going to have an effect on a big enough scale to mitigate tornado dangers," meteorologist and professional storm chaser Tony Laubach told FOX News. Laubach says the money would be better spent understanding how tornadoes form – and building stronger structures.
The Great Wall theory is another in a list of zany ideas for killing tornadoes proposed over the years, ranging from bombs to airborne lasers, the Weather Channel notes.