Of Radio and Rain

As an undergraduate I took a “Weather and Climate” class, which I have to admit was one of my favorites. I don’t remember everything we discussed, but I definitely do remember that precipitation has nothing to do with radio waves in the air. This fact was called to doubt, however, as I was reviewing the Biblical Recorder (which was and is published in Raleigh) for another subject. In its “Current Topics” section for 2 June 1926 I found a piece titled “Is the Radio to Blame?” In the late spring of 1926, sections of the United States were experiencing a severe drought–the worst in forty years, and the Recorder reports that Thomas Edison blamed radio waves for the lack of rain. He believed that “moisture [was] being absorbed from the air by the radio, thus preventing the formation of rain clouds.” The Recorder went on to say that coming from Edison this theory was worthy of consideration and “it would be better to abolish [the radio] than have the earth parched as it has been for the past two months.”