The King of Thailand has been awarded a patent for a technology which claims to enable him to produce rain. The patent claims to be for a chemical system which can generate and control rainfall.
The European Patent Office has granted the patent to King Bhumibol Adulyadej for 'weather modification by royal rainmaking technology', having been satisfied, up to a point, of the technology's plausibility.
"The granting of the patent does not say whether it is a good patent or a bad patent and does not mean that it has been checked technically but that yes it seems plausible," said EPO spokesman Rainer Osterwalder.
"We examine a patent in respect of the state of the current art. All we can do is decide if it is plausible in terms of similar existing cases," said Osterwalder. A search report conducted by the EPO did find eight 'documents considered to be relevant' in the examination of prior art.
The patent application has been administered on behalf of the King by Professor Anont Boonyarattanavej, the secretary general of the Thailand Research Fund, according to China's People's Daily Online.
The Thai King's previous agricultural experience was brought into the decision to award the patent, said Osterwalder. "The King of Thailand has expertise in agriculture, having studied at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne [Switzerland]," said Osterwalder. "He has an educational background in agricultural questions."
The patent, numbered EP1491088, is for a system of chemicals that claims to be able to 'trigger', 'fatten', 'move', 'attack' and 'enhance' rain and clouds in order to create and direct rainfall.
"The technology is developed to help people in Thailand and particularly those farmers who repeatedly face drought disasters due to variation and deviation of the seasons," says the patent. "In addition [it is] an attempt to solve a seemingly insoluble and paradoxical problem of water management in the North-East region of Thailand."
The patent application documents the more traditional methods of rain generation in the area. "In the old days, people in this North-East region cleverly launched a firework to function as a traditional cloud seeding device to cause chemical burning underneath the cloud resulting in rainfall. They had to carefully observe behaviour of the frogs in the locality as it is well-known that frogs are animal able to indicate the possibility of rainfall," it says.
"When there was severe draught, people in the village would also perform a cat procession to beg for rain. These components are prior arts. Statistically, the people would unpredictably get the rain they need due to the inefficiency of the procedure."
The modern method is, the patent claims, more reliable. "The 'Royal Rainmaking Technology' is therefore developed to make rain to fall onto a target area successfully by applying this invented technology and using aircraft," it says. "This technology provides sufficient fresh water supplies which may otherwise rapidly become inadequate to serve a growing water demand in each part of the country."