July 13, 2009— -- It's the ultimate man vs. nature face-off.
An application filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Jan. 3, 2008, lists Gates and 12 others as the inventors of a number of methods to control and prevent hurricanes.
"Billions of dollars of destruction and damage is regularly attributable to hurricanes and hurricane-like tropical storms," the document says. "Thus, great interest has arisen in controlling these powerful storms."
The document goes on to describe a process of using fleets of vessels to mix warm water from the surface of the ocean with colder water from greater depths in an effort to cool the surface of the water.
Hurricanes draw their strength from condensation driven by heat. That condensation leads to higher wind speeds. By cooling the surface of the ocean, the plan attempts to sap energy from growing hurricanes.
The filings were submitted by Searete LLC, a sub-entity of Intellectual Ventures, a Bellevue, Wash.-based invention acquisition and development firm founded by former Microsoft chief technology officer Nathan Myhrvold.