Dufresne

Destroying Hurricanes

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Is it technologically possible to drop a bomb right into the center of a hurricane? What would happen? Could a hurricane be destroyed this way?

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I suppose you mean a nuclear bomb. I wonder. I'm interested too.

If it were the case, I wonder who'd drop it. The military isn't in the business of stopping huricanes, and I don't know if private organizations should have nuclear bombs...

JD

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Is it technologically possible to drop a bomb right into the center of a hurricane? What would happen? Could a hurricane be destroyed this way?

A multi-megaton nuclear explosion in a hurricane such as Katrina or Rita would be useless for a variety of reasons, not the least being that the enormous energy regularly released by the hurricane in a single hour exceeds that of multi-megaton weapons. It is difficult to appreciate just how much energy is involved with these storms. Also, an air burst would cover only a small fraction of the area covered by the dynamics of the storm. Besides, I doubt that the radiation fallout would be much appreciated.

A better approach might be to attack the source of the dynamics, the ocean waters. But until Batman's nemesis, Mr. Freeze, becomes a reality, cooling off those waters remains a formidable task.

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But until Batman's nemesis, Mr. Freeze, becomes a reality, cooling off those waters remains a formidable task.

Stephen, this had me cracking up for a long time! I nominate this for "Greatest Explanation of a Difficult Problem". :)

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Putting aside for the moment particular means of doing so - I've always wondered about the general idea of weather modification in relation to a proper social system. Could an individual or a company rightfully alter the weather - say so as to reduce the severity of a hurricane, or even prevent it from forming or the like? Who can be said to own the air over the ocean as it travels from the east Atlantic to the west and into the Gulf? What if modification reduces the effect, but then also alters the path of the storm? Would any damage wrought by such a change be the responsibility of the company who directed the storm to where it would not previously have caused damage?

There are many more particular situations one could identify, but I think you get the fundamental question.

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That and weather/climate modification is just inherently dangerous. We don't know all that much about climate and how various systems affect each other over the long term. We might be well-intentioned in attempting to stop severe weather like hurricanes but could create another problem which might be even worse.

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I once heard that there was a program put on by the government in the 1960's which used silver iodate aerosols dropped out of planes near the storm to create ice crystals in the clouds which somehow cause an amelioration in the intensity of the hurricane. Apparently the program was discontinued because they were worried it could have the opposite effect and be liable for destruction.

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Could an individual or a company rightfully alter the weather - say so as to reduce the severity of a hurricane, or even prevent it from forming or the like?  Who can be said to own the air over the ocean as it travels from the east Atlantic to the west and into the Gulf?  What if modification reduces the effect, but then also alters the path of the storm?  Would any damage wrought by such a change be the responsibility of the company who directed the storm to where it would not previously have caused damage?

This question is very similar, in principle, to the legal issues raised with the use of bodies of water and what happens when water adjoins or affects private properties owned by different people. What happens when a man upstream builds a dam and irrigation channels for his farm that affects the river downstream that a fisherman depends on?

Issues like that have been raised for centuries and settled inductively and brilliantly by common law. While it might be an interesting challenge to apply those principles to weather modification, most of the hard work has already been done.

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I think weather modification is a great idea, but because of the size of large storms, it's unlikely we'll be able to do it in the near future. However, I don't think that fear of as-yet-unknown consequences should stop man from eventually trying to control the weather. Some day man will have the technology and knowledge to prevent storms and other natural disasters. (There may be issues of property rights in some cases, but we'll have plenty of time to work these out.)

Of more immediate interest to me is our ability to predict these disasters. It seems we're pretty good with hurricanes. (People had three days notice to evacuate from Rita's path, for instance.) More accuracy would be better - we'd know more precisely just which cities needed to evacuate and which would be narrowly missed by the storm. But other disasters we're not able yet to predict - earthquakes come to mind. Right now, if a big one hits, it does so without warning.

Man's history is a steady progression of his being less and less vulnerable to the weather and other natural occurrences.

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This question is very similar, in principle, to the legal issues raised with the use of bodies of water and what happens when water adjoins or affects private properties owned by different people.
Isn't the principle even more similar to the legal issues raised by the use of air for release of pollution or the like. And, unlike the water rights and the like, I am not so certain that the questions have been solved so brilliantly. That is one of the reasons I asked the question.
I think weather modification is a great idea, but because of the size of large storms, it's unlikely we'll be able to do it in the near future
While I agree it is unlikely to happen within the next couple decades or more, I would hazard to suggest - given advances in other technologies - we may see at least basic adjustments made (or capable) within our lifetimes - and if not, then possibly within the lifetime of our children.

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Isn't the principle even more similar to the legal issues raised by the use of air for release of pollution or the like.  And, unlike the water rights and the like, I am not so certain that the questions have been solved so brilliantly.  That is one of the reasons I asked the question.

Principles of water rights were developed before the 20th century, as was most of the common law, and the rationality of the English/American legal system was responsible.

The issues of air rights and air pollution are fairly recent applications and additions to the law, and have come to the fore when legal philosophy has begun to show the effects of poor philosophy.

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Exactly. And because the issue of air rights and the like differs from the issue of water rights and the like, that would be one of the reasons common law derived from water rights was not simply applied to air rights. There are factors which make it different. And because of these differences, and the failure of current philosophy of law, I wondered what sort of solutions or principles would be properly applied in the context of air (as opposed to water). As such, I am unclear as to what principles would qualify in this context as the hard work which has already been done.

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I think weather modification is a great idea, but because of the size of large storms, it's unlikely we'll be able to do it in the near future.  However, I don't think that fear of as-yet-unknown consequences should stop man from eventually trying to control the weather.

Perhaps not prevent him from trying but at minimum it should make mankind think long and hard before attempting weather or climate change.

I don't want to sound like a crazy environmentalist but changing the Earth's climate is something we can't afford to be wrong about. In the future we might have gained enough knowledge about climate systems to be able to make reasonable changes but that day certainly hasn't arrived yet.

Plus the main reason why man is more resiliant to the weather and climate is not because of our predictive capacity but rather from our basic technology especially building and engineering. Well-designed, well-constructed structures are simply going to be far less effected by extreme weather than poorly made ones. For example, you have earthquakes in the US where there is relatively little loss of life and property damage and then you have earthquakes in the third world of the same intensity but where tens of thousands die and whole urban sectors are wiped off the map.

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A multi-megaton nuclear explosion in a hurricane such as Katrina or Rita would be useless for a variety of reasons, not the least being that the enormous energy regularly released by the hurricane in a single hour exceeds that of multi-megaton weapons. It is difficult to appreciate just how much energy is involved with these storms. Also, an air burst would cover only a small fraction of the area covered by the dynamics of the storm. Besides, I doubt that the radiation fallout would be much appreciated.
I just read that hurricanes can have a diameter of between 5 and 125 miles. That's a lot bigger than I had thought.
A better approach might be to attack the source of the dynamics, the ocean waters. But until Batman's nemesis, Mr. Freeze, becomes a reality, cooling off those waters remains a formidable task.
Maybe your Californian governor can be convinced to lend a hand. :)

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Exactly.  And because the issue of air rights and the like differs from the issue of water rights and the like, that would be one of the reasons common law derived from water rights was not simply applied to air rights.  There are factors which make it different.  And because of these differences, and the failure of current philosophy of law, I wondered what sort of solutions or principles would be properly applied in the context of air (as opposed to water).  As such, I am unclear as to what principles would qualify in this context as the hard work which has already been done.

Actually, I think air rights are very similar to water rights and a lot of the same principles should have applied: rights of first users, rights to uses, methods of setting property boundaries, definitions as to what constitutes interference with use, lack of prior restraint, standing to sue, rules of evidence and standards of proof, being a civil rather than a criminal or regulatory matter, etc.

Unfortunately, legal philosophers, like philosophers in general, and judges, like people in general, have been too concrete-bound to understand the principles behind water rights, the contexts in which they arose, and the similarity to issues involving air rights.

If I do something I have established a right to do on the upstream portion of the river by doing it for years, I still don't have the right to do it in a way that interferes with the fisherman who has been fishing downstream for years. The fisherman can sue me and win by proving that my toxic waste killed the fish where he fishes and that he was fishing before the toxin was in the water where he fishes.

Likewise, an airplane can fly over my house but, if he makes noise that keeps me up at night or drops stuff from the plane that lands in my backyard without my consent, I can sue and win -- unless planes were doing that for a long time before I bought the property and built the house.

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Likewise, an airplane can fly over my house but, if he makes noise that keeps me up at night or drops stuff from the plane that lands in my backyard without my consent, I can sue and win -- unless planes were doing that for a long time before I bought the property and built the house.

What constitutes a "long time." I agree with you here, I'm just wondering where the line should be drawn and why? A month, a year, a decade?

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What constitutes a "long time." I agree with you here, I'm just wondering where the line should be drawn and why? A month, a year, a decade?

That varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but it should be set within a reasonable range -- more than a week and less than a century. That is a detail for legal philosophers.

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If I do something I have established a right to do on the upstream portion of the river by doing it for years, I still don't have the right to do it in a way that interferes with the fisherman who has been fishing downstream for years.  The fisherman can sue me and win by proving that my toxic waste killed the fish where he fishes and that he was fishing before the toxin was in the water where he fishes.

Likewise, an airplane can fly over my house but, if he makes noise that keeps me up at night or drops stuff from the plane that lands in my backyard without my consent, I can sue and win -- unless planes were doing that for a long time before I bought the property and built the house.

These principles and the list of others you identify may be well and good for the situations you describe (though I am not claiming that to be the case). However, I am at a loss to understand how one would apply such principles to the context of weather and its manipulation or control - unless your position is that weather control should not be done because it would violates someone's rights.

For instance, is it established that everyone has a right to their weather because they have had similar weather in the past (like the fisherman, who has had similar fishing conditions in the past)? Or is it established that the first person who does weather control gets the right to decide what the weather will be in particular areas? Or is it established that you can not drive a storm over my house and drop heavy rains etc without my consent (in order to prevent a hurricane developing elsewhere and causing someone else even more damage) just like you cant drop stuff from the plane into my backyard?

In other words, given the context of common law that you cite, I can certainly see many ways one would be able to deny anyone the right to change the weather. But, in this same context, I am not seeing any principles which would allow the modification of weather.

Thus, are you suggesting a proper government would prevent weather modification? If not, can you identify one proper common law example (of the water-based variety, as you suggest) and show how its principle would validly apply to a weather manipulation example - without it violating someone else's rights?

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These principles and the list of others you identify may be well and good for the situations you describe (though I am not claiming that to be the case).  However, I am at a loss to understand how one would apply such principles to the context of weather and its manipulation or control - unless your position is that weather control should not be done because it would violates someone's rights.

It isn't.

The way it applies is that people have a property right to certain things and certain uses of things. A person has a right to change air and water currents and temperatures IF it doesn't interfere with the property rights of others.

Let's say I redirect a hurricane so it doesn't hurt my city. The way I do it, however, diverts it to YOUR city and it blows the roof off your house. You should be able to sue me for the damages and, if you can prove that my actions were the cause of your damaged roof, you should win.

People who were affected, but not damaged, by my weather manipulation, would have no standing to sue. Also there would be no regulation or pre-emptive prohibition of my weather manipulation UNLESS someone could go to court and PROVE that my activities would pose a real threat of physical harm to him. If he could prove that, he could get an injunction to stop me.

Or is it established that the first person who does weather control gets the right to decide what the weather will be in particular areas?

He gains the right to do weather control that affects any property that he either owns or has permission to affect -- and THAT'S ALL. He has no right to affect the property of others who do not consent in a way that causes, or is likely to cause, provable damage.

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Let's say I redirect a hurricane so it doesn't hurt my city. The way I do it, however, diverts it to YOUR city and it blows the roof off your house. You should be able to sue me for the damages and, if you can prove that my actions were the cause of your damaged roof, you should win.
If you are diverting a hurricane to my city, then are you not knowingly acting to violate the rights of the life, liberty, and property of the citizens of my community? Does such an act not constitute a threat of force by you against them? If so, don't the police themselves have the authority to stop you, as they would anyone threatening the initiation of force?

Again, I cannot think of one instance in which a change in the weather would not violate someone's rights. Cut down on the amount of cloudcover to increase tourism? That will damage the growth and productivity of some crops, just to mention one effect. Increase the rain for a good growing season? But some plants do better with less water. Minor flooding will occur. And such overcast conditions will cause damage to businesses that rely upon fair weather. Keep the climate fair to prevent snowstorms? That will prevent major loss of productivity for whole cities. But it will also damage businesses that rely upon such snow.

In other words, if you manipulate the weather, someone is necessarily going to be 'damaged'.

Any productive change in weather for some will necessarily cause a detrimental change in weather for others. And the causal links would be relatively apparent (at least if the changes were large enough to decidedly benefit some. Of course, if they are not, then what is the point of weather modification in the first place?)

The only thing a weather manipulator doesn't know is who exactly will be damaged and to what degree.

Given these facts, it seems the lesson from common law is that weather manipulation is not a right but a violation of someone's rights.

--

Now, I suspect there is a principle which would allow such manipulation. I suspect it simply has not been identified here. And I suspect it has something to do with the a principle Miss Rand may not have explicitly identified, but spoke on the basis of in one of her essays on pollution and environmentalism. I do not currently have the essay, but she said something to the effect that, even if pollution could be identified as 'damaging', because of the nature of production and/or human life, it would still be warranted.

Perhaps it is whatever principle she was operating from that would make such manipulation acceptable. (If someone could dig it up, that would likely be helpful to answer the question). For, as it stands, I don't see the answer (except "No!") in common law.

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People who were affected, but not damaged, by my weather manipulation, would have no standing to sue.  Also there would be no regulation or pre-emptive prohibition of my weather manipulation UNLESS someone could go to court and PROVE that my activities would pose a real threat of physical harm to him.  If he could prove that, he could get an injunction to stop me.

I agree with this principle. (And note that it is the opposite of what environmentalists want: they'd like us to prove that a proposed activity will not cause any damage before anybody engages in it.)

Once weather manipulation is perfected, it will be such a benefit to man that any effects (such as a few days more or less rain at some location), though they may affect some people, will be easily tolerable.

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If you are diverting a hurricane to my city, then are you not knowingly acting to violate the rights of the life, liberty, and property of the citizens of my community?  Does such an act not constitute a threat of force by you against them?  If so, don't the police themselves have the authority to stop you, as they would anyone threatening the initiation of force?

If the sole intention is to cause harm, then there might be a cause for criminal or military action, but, just as with water or air pollution, it is usually an unintented consequence and is dealt with as a civil matter.

When it is a matter of a provable potential harm, it is handled with an injunction and the police only get involved if the injunction is violated (or is about to be violated). Violating an injunction is a crime.

Again, I cannot think of one instance in which a change in the weather would not violate someone's rights. 

It definitely would affect other people but whether it violated their rights would depend on whether they could prove that (1) they had a certain right to a certain kind of weather, (2) whether they were actually damaged and the extent of the damage, (3) whether the civil defendant was causally responsible for the damage, and (4) the damage would not have happened without the defendant's activities anyway.

The civil courts would have to unearth the facts and evaluate them, but that's their job. They deal with complicated disputes over property claims and damages all the time.

The only thing a weather manipulator doesn't know is who exactly will be damaged and to what degree.

If he doesn't know that, he is acting with reckless disregard for the consequences of his actions, which is a clear case of civil, and maybe even criminal, negligence.

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If the sole intention is to cause harm, then there might be a cause for criminal or military action, but, just as with water or air pollution, it is usually an unintented consequence and is dealt with as a civil matter.
A hurricane is an immensely destructive entity. Harm is in the nature of that entity (which is why one would try to manipulate it in the first place). As such, harm is not an 'unintended' consequence.

Just as one cannot shoot a gun and say the bullet hitting something or someone somewhere was an unintended consequence, neither can one steer a hurricane and say that it hitting something or someone somewhere was an unintended consequence.

When it is a matter of a provable potential harm, it is handled with an injunction and the police only get involved if the injunction is violated (or is about to be violated).  Violating an injunction is a crime.
I have to disagree with this statement. If a man threatens to hit you with a bullet, a missile, or any other thing - ie if he threatens contact with your person or property without your consent - neither you nor the police have to go to court in order to act against the individual who is threatening you. And by its very nature, a hurricane is more destructive than any off the other entities I named. Heck, it is more destructive than all the other things I named combined. As such, I would suggest that the police do not have to wait for the courts to decide a hurricane is "a provable potential harm" - any more than they have to wait for the courts to decide a gun is a provable potential harm, or a grenade is a provable potential harm, or a finger on a nuclear trigger is a provable potential harm.

And - once the 'trigger' has been pulled on a hurricane - ie once someone begins to steer it - the action of the police and courts are too late for defense anyway. The 'bullet' has already been fired.

It definitely would affect other people but whether it violated their rights would depend on whether they could prove that 

(1) they had a certain right to a certain kind of weather

1 - how does a person establish a right to a particular kind of weather? 2 - didn't you argue that the principle of water rights, ie the historic, 'normal' conditions are what an individual has a 'right' to expect? 3 - didn't you already establish that if a person diverts a storm from its natural course and towards someone else, they are responsible for the damage it causes? And that such a responsibility comes from the fact of having diverted it - ie having been the cause of its change of direction?
(2) whether they were actually damaged and the extent of the damage
The average rainstorm may or may not cause damage. A tropical storm will cause some damage. A hurricane will cause widespread damage. Since the example provided deals with a hurricane, the question is not will a hurricane cause damage, but simply who will be damaged and to what extent?
(3) whether the civil defendant was causally responsible for the damage
As indicated above, I thought you already established that someone who directs a hurricane to someone else's house is responsible for the damages to that house.
(4) the damage would not have happened without the defendant's activities anyway.
Since the example you provided specified that the hurricane would have hit your community and not mine (and since the wider premise is control of the weather, ie changing it from what it would have been otherwise), then this issue is already assumed by the example.
The civil courts would have to unearth the facts and evaluate them, but that's their job.
This would be after the fact. But as the agent of self-defense, the government has the responsibility to defend against the initiation of force - ie try to prevent force from being initiated, instead of just seeking to collect damages etc afterwards. And in the example of the hurricane redirected from your house to mine, what fact has to be unearthed and evaluated before one determines that it is harmful?
If he doesn't know that, he is acting with reckless disregard for the consequences of his actions, which is a clear case of civil, and maybe even criminal, negligence.
As you said, you steer a hurricane away from your house and towards my community. Given such an example, you are not going to know who exactly you are damaging nor to what respect. All you know is some damage will indeed occur. As such, I believe this statement makes my argument.

--

Are there any principles beyond the common law ones being cited, such as the one I previously alluded to, which would allow the manipulation of a storm even if it causes damage elsewhere? Does anyone know of the quote I was trying to reference? Is anyone able to provide that quote?

Because, otherwise, I don't see how one can identify weather manipulation in most cases to be anything but a transfer of misfortune from one person or group - to another person or group (simply given the nature of weather itself and the fact of the division of labor in virtually all geographic locations).

Note - I am not trying to argue against the concept of weather manipulation. It definitely appeals to me and I would love to find a means of engaging in such an activity in a way which does not violate rights. It's just that the principles being applied so far do not seem to offer such a means.

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Hi guys. I haven't read this thread yet (its pretty long) but I want to give you a chance to look at this article. There is actually a video of it if you have broadband. For now it is still on the foxnews.com main page.

Transcript: Can Diaper Gel Stop a Hurricane?

Friday, September 23, 2005

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," September 22, 2005, that was edited for clarity.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: A Florida businessman thinks he has a way to stop Hurricane Rita in her tracks.

Peter Cordani wants to fly 10 747s into the hurricane filled with something called Dyn-O-Gel. The substance, used in diapers, absorbs water and turns it into a gel, which would fall into the Gulf Coast. Now, Cordani says it could slow down and maybe even stop the hurricane.

How much is Peter asking from the governor for all this? Let's ask him. He is the guy with the gel.

All right. Good to have you. How will this work?

PETER CORDANI, CEO, DYN-O-MAT: It is a super-absorbent product. It is designed to absorb moisture on contact.

And through testing, we found out it had an endothermic feature and it will cool the storm down up to 20 degrees. So, those are two really important parts of the storm, being that it is built by moisture and heat.

CAVUTO: So, how would you get this into the hurricane? You would take some planes over it and just dump into it? Is that it?

CORDANI: Yes.

Well, we have a system worked out where we have a triangle piece, sort of like a pie shape. And we feel, if we go in by the eye and hit that pie-shaped piece with the 10 aircraft, it will break that section up and it will use its own energy to diminish itself.

And we are talking about just slowing the storm down, taking the devastating punch out. We are not going to stop a storm at all. We know how important the rains are to us. So, we are just talking slowing it down by 10 to 15 miles per hour. And that will take out almost 60 percent of the caused damage. That is why it is so important.

CAVUTO: All right, so, slowing down a storm at 160 miles an hour would bring it to 145 miles per hour. So, it is still pretty severe, but it's not as severe, right?

CORDANI: Correct. Yes. We are just taking the devastating punch, because we definitely realize what hurricanes are. They're to release the heat. So, we just want to leave them and tamper with them as minimal as possible.

CAVUTO: I did have a chance to see what some government experts think. And they think you are nuts. What do you say?

CORDANI: Well, I don't know what they are working on. I mean, I worked with Dr. Hugh Willoughby from NOAA on the project. They thought it was the greatest thing since the wheel when we first started. And, after I cleared radar, they parted themselves from me.

CAVUTO: OK.

CORDANI: And the product, we are working on the eye of the storm. We are not working, draping over nautical 300 miles of a storm.

CAVUTO: OK. That's what you would be looking at.

Well, Peter, I wish we had more time. We will see what happens with this. But, you know, everyone can offer ideas, not a bad one. So, Peter Cordani, thank you very much, the guy behind Dyn-O-Mat.

Content and Programming Copyright 2005 FOX News Network, L.L.C. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2005 eMediaMillWorks, Inc. (f/k/a Federal Document Clearing House, Inc.), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon FOX News Network, L.L.C.'s and eMediaMillWorks, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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