Leading article: Made in the shade

In the build-up to the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, plans were afoot to shoot down any clouds that threatened rain at the opening ceremony. In the event, no such measures had to be taken, but the idea that the weather was something within human control was not going to go away.

Now it is the turn of the organisers of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to try their hand at a little meteorological interference. Prominent among the objections when the Gulf state was awarded the tournament – seeing off a bid from England, among other countries, in the process – was the fierce heat in which matches are likely to be played.

Air-conditioned stadiums (powered by solar energy) will be part of the answer, but Qatari scientists have not stopped there. Yesterday they claimed to have invented artificial clouds that will keep players and fans in the shade. The "clouds" are made from a lightweight carbon structure, and carry a giant envelope of material containing helium. Four solar-powered engines move the structure via remote control.

All very ingenious. Perhaps now they've cracked the small matter of the weather, scientists could take on a possibly trickier challenge: how to develop an England goalkeeper who doesn't drop the ball.

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