Monday, September 07, 2015

The Weather Experiment: A Splendid and Illuminating Read

Book Review: The Weather Experiment by Peter Moore

We are all used to watching the weather report on the TV. We may hear the forecast on the radio, see the daily temperature readings in the newspaper, see the current temperature and weather conditions on our computer screen. Our cars often feature an outside temperature readout and banks and stores often show the outside temperature. Today, the current weather and future forecasts are everywhere - but it wasn't always so.

The Weather Experiment tells the story of how the science of weather forecasting came to be. It's subtitle is "The Pioneers Who Sought to See the Future."

The Weather Experiment by Peter Moore

Even today weather forecasters don't always get the details right. But back in the mid-1700s they had hardly begun to understand what caused the wind to blow, the clouds to rise, lightning to strike, and storms to hit with fury. Until the early 1800s, the civilized world still thought the atmosphere extended between the Earth and the Moon - the territory of the meteors, and thus the root of the word meteorology.

Driven by loss of life at sea in the age of the great sailing vessels when storms would rise without warning and loss of property on land when climate would change drastically without reason, a group of determined men began searching for an answer. It took decades of developing accurate instruments, taking readings, and exploring the world to gather a larger and larger pool of information to begin to figure out the weather. Many risked their lives to discover the secrets of the atmosphere and develop what would become the science of meteorology.

As controversial as global warming and climate change are today, so was meteorology then. This story involves great drama, both for the men who devoted their lives to gathering the data behind meteorology and those who ignored it to their peril. Both today and back then, climatology and meteorology are a science devoted to gathering data and then trying to make sense of it. This book is about those men of science who sought to bring order to an often chaotic world, knowing the cost in lives and property without it and knowing there must be an answer.

In between the detailed historical tales of these men and their lives and the times in which they lived are interspersed short chapters of the most eloquent descriptions of weather phenomena. You learn some amazing things about everyday observations like rainbows, clouds, the cycle of moisture in the atmosphere to form dew on plants or fog in the air, and more.

It's a splendid and illuminating read.

The Weather Experiment makes a good read for anyone interested in science, a student needing a science project, someone interested in science biographies (there are multiple biographies in this book), or the person simply who wonders about the wonder that is the weather.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Weather Experiment. I am a science reader among other topics and this filled this niche nicely.

(c) 2015. Alan Eggleston. All Rights Reserved.

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