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In 1865 Admiral Robert FitzRoy locked himself in his dressing room and cut his throat. His grand meteorological project had failed. Yet only a decade later, FitzRoy's storm warning system and "forecasts" would return, the model for what we use today.In an age when a storm at sea was evidence of God's wrath, nineteenth-century meteorologists had to fight against conventionIn 1865 Admiral Robert FitzRoy locked himself in his dressing room and cut his throat. His grand meteorological project had failed. Yet only a decade later, FitzRoy's storm warning system and "forecasts" would return, the model for what we use today.In an age when a storm at sea was evidence of God's wrath, nineteenth-century meteorologists had to fight against convention and religious dogma. Buoyed by the achievements of the Enlightenment, a generation of mavericks set out to decipher the secrets of the atmosphere and predict the future. Among them were Luke Howard, the first to classify clouds; Francis Beaufort, who quantified the winds; James Glaisher, who explored the upper atmosphere in a hot-air balloon; Samuel Morse, whose electric telegraph gave scientists the means by which to transmit weather warnings; and FitzRoy himself, master sailor, scientific pioneer, and founder of the U.K.'s national weather service.Reputations were built and shattered. Fractious debates raged over decades between scientists from London and Galway, Paris and New York. Explaining the atmosphere was one thing, but predicting what it was going to do seemed a step too far. In 1854, when a politician suggested to the Commons that Londoners might soon know the weather twenty-four hours in advance, the House roared with laughter.Peter Moore's The Weather Experiment navigates treacherous seas and rough winds to uncover the obsession that drove these men to great invention and greater understanding....

Title : The Weather Experiment: The Pioneers Who Sought to See the Future
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ISBN : 9780865478091
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 416 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Weather Experiment: The Pioneers Who Sought to See the Future Reviews

  • Bettie☯
    2019-05-16 23:45

    BOTW Peter Moore's lively account tells the story of the adventurous quest to understand the atmosphere. Today we are never far from a weather forecast, but as meteorology evolved as a science in the nineteenth century it was often controversial; reputations were made and destroyed, and bold men driven by their obsession with the laws of nature took death defying risks.1/5: STORMY WEATHER: In this first episode, the charismatic naval officer, Robert FitzRoy, confronts storms on the high seas. The reader is Tim McMullan. 2/5: THE WEATHER REPORT: Captain FitzRoy's star is in the ascent, and there is innovation at the observatory in Greenwich. 3/5: SHIPWRECKS AND STORM WARNINGS: Peril on the high seas leads Robert FitzRoy to devise an innovative storm warning system.4/5: A BALLOON ASCENT: Lives are imperilled when scientific enquiry into the upper atmosphere leads to an ascent in a balloon called Mammoth.5/5: PROGNOSTICATIONS AND FORECASTS: The first forecasts prove controversial among the scientific community, and Robert FitzRoy's reputation is threatened.

  • Nooilforpacifists
    2019-05-16 02:49

    Light; gaseous, mostly hot air. This is not about the discoveries that enabled weather prediction, but a series of potted bios of those who contributed. Science -- with a long diversion into paintings of clouds -- written by an English major. Put differently, it is a book almost bereft of science.If there's any central character, it is Admiral FitzRoy, now remembered (if at all) as Captain of Charles Darwin's ship Beagle, but later a founder, of sorts, of British Meteorology. He came up with the idea of nationwide ship warnings and newspaper weather reports, but after he committed suicide, it was discovered that he had no real formula for anything short of storm warnings. In the intervening 150 years, the UK's Met Office, alas, doesn't seem to have changed.Moreover, Peter Moore writes from such an entirely British perspective (using 'us" at one point as a synonym for "the British"), that there may be over-much rooting for the home team. This is shown most clearly in a teeth-clenching chapter near the end where the author claims that "Democrat-leaning news programmes have been found to use the words 'climate change' while their Republican opponents have preferred 'global warming'." Nope--Dems switched to "climate change" to be able to insist that man was responsible for deviations on either side of the Bell Curve.Weather enthusiasts should skip this--they'll know it already. It might be a good introductory book for a high schooler (or should I say "Fifth Former"?).

  • Converse
    2019-04-28 01:04

    Before the 1860s there were no public weather forecasts, and basically no way to predict the weather more than a few hours in advance. Robert Fitzroy, better known as the Royal Navy captain who carried Charles Darwin around the world on the Beagle, is the person who changed that.It was more that forecasts that were lacking; an agreed-upon vocabulary to describe the weather only began developing at the start of the nineteenth century. First, Luke Howard came up with the names we still basically used to describe clouds; cumulus, stratus , and so forth. Francis Beaufort, a retired Royal Navy officer and patron to the younger Fitzroy, developed a wind scale that allowed for more uniform recording of wind velocity. Improved instruments were devised for measuring humidity.The conceptual advances were less impressive, mainly because the protagonists insisted that only their ideas could be right. The American James Epsy correctly identified the release of energy from condensing water as an important driver of storms, but then went on to insist that winds in a storm could not spiral inward, as attested to by many observers, but must move towards the center of the storm in a straight line. Epsy's American opponent William Redfield and his British supporter William Reid, who had investigated a devastating hurricane in the British West Indies, held the opposing view that the whirlwinds existed but the changes of state of water was not the energy source of storms. Only when William Ferrel showed that the Coriolis effect could account for the swirling nature of storm winds were the two views reconciled; I always wondered why the protagonists thought they were irreconcilable in the first place.Fitrzoy had developed an interest in the weather from his Royal Navy career. In the 1850s, after a failed stint as governor of New Zealand and after he proved emotionally unfit to continue as a Royal Navy officer, he was placed in charge of government office under the Board of Trade that was supposed to improve the navigation of sailing ships by providing maps of typical wind patterns, so that sailors could take the best advantage of the winds. Matthew Maury, an American naval officer, and future Confederate, had pioneered the idea and arranged international cooperation in the effort.By the 1850s it was now possible to attempt weather forecasting, because the development of the telegraph meant that observations could arrive in advance of a storm. Moore devotes a nice chapter to Morse's telegraph development. Ironically, it was the failure of a semaphore telegraph network in early 19th century Ireland that had gotten Francis Beaufort interested in the weather; he had been in charge of developing the network, only to see it usually thwarted by weather that limited visibility.After a few years, Fitzroy spent less time making maritime wind charts and started providing storm warnings to ports and very brief weather forecasts to the public in 1861. Observations came from observers at telegraph stations throughout Britain and Ireland. These were not quite the first forecasts, as the Smithsonian institution had displayed a weather map updated daily before the Civil War, an effort that ended with the beginning of that war. Also, the Netherlands were slightly ahead of Britain in beginning forecasts. Fitzroy's storm warnings had official approval, but the forecasts did not; I also think Fitzroy must have been overly optimistic when he said he could provide useful forecasts 3 days in advance. Fitzroy's efforts prompted France to begin providing forecasts.Fitzroy's forecasts were controversial, in part because he could not well articulate his methodology and had never written out a manual of procedure for his office. One of his most vehement critic was Francis Galton, cousin of Darwin and pioneering statistician. Fitzroy was very sensitive to criticism, was stressed by his former colleague, Charles Darwin, developing a theory of evolution by natural selection that seemed incompatible with his religious views, and was deeply into debt. In 1865 Fitzroy killed himself, and his enemies, Galton prominent among them, took the opportunity to end both the forecasts and the storm warnings. The latter step caused much public criticism, as most ports had found them useful and as retrospective analyses indicated they were more accurate than Galton could could admit. It would be about 15 years before Britain again issued forecasts.A nicely written book.

  • Laura
    2019-05-07 01:05

    From BBc Radio 4 - Book of the WeekPeter Moore's lively account tells the story of the adventurous quest to understand the atmosphere. Today we are never far from a weather forecast, but as meteorology evolved as a science in the nineteenth century it was often controversial; reputations were made and destroyed, and bold men driven by their obsession with the laws of nature took death defying risks. In the first episode, the charismatic naval officer, Robert FitzRoy, confronts storms on the high seas. The reader is Tim McMullan.Abridged by Sara DaviesProduced by Elizabeth Allard.

  • Dwain
    2019-04-30 03:05

    I really liked this book. I have a degree (BS) in meteorology from the University of Washington. I got interested in this study by reading a book called "Storm". I am glad I did. I also wish The Weather Experiment had been available at the time. I would have had a much greater depth of understanding of my subjects had it been. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the origins of this science but especially to people who will actually study it. Thanks, Peter Moore.

  • Luis Brudna
    2019-04-28 01:52

    Um bom livro para quem está interessado na biografia daqueles que ajudaram a desenvolver a meteorologia. Boa parte do livro fala sobre Robert FitzRoy, um pioneiro no que hoje conhecemos como 'previsão do tempo'. Li o livro em inglês.

  • Andy
    2019-05-16 23:56

    A fascinating insight into the history, science and people behind the weather forecast, something which we take for granted but which took hundreds of years to come to its current, pretty accurate, state. A perfect holiday read.

  • Emma Glaisher
    2019-04-24 20:47

    How could I not read a book in which my ancestor features ?Finished this ages ago, but remember it as absolutely fascinating, well written and worth returning to.

  • Michael
    2019-05-20 01:52

    I heard about this book through The NY Times list of 100 notable books of 2016. I saw in the library just before going on holidays and checked it out. I read most of it on the long flight from Doha to Perth and then on the Alice Springs. This is a must read for anyone interested in the weather and more to point how weather forecasting came to be. The first forecasts were only a little over 100 years ago. The book dives into the work and dedication of the earliest meteorologists with a heavy reliance on the UK contribution (author being British). It was fascinating to learn how doggedly some of these men (and it was all men in the 19th century) especially Robert FitzRoy, who despite being told not to, sent out the first weather forecasts to newspapers every day for several years. When the UK government pulled the plug on his small department, it killed him. We also learn of the contributions of Sir Francis Beaufort (he of the wind force scale) and mentor to FitzRoy, American James Espy, John Daniell (inventor of the Danielle Hygometer and cell battery), Francis Galton (coining the phrase anti-cyclone), James Glaisher, William Redfield, American Elias Loomis, and Frenchman Urbain Le Verrier. There is also a chapter on Samuel Morse. The development of the electric telegraph was a fundamental game changer - news could be transmitted across country in minutes instead of weeks or months. This invention more than any other allowed for modern weather forecasting as it allowed the quick collection of data to interpret. As an aside, there is an illustration and argument to use when you hear of someone deriding government money spent on some scientific research that they deride of what possible good can come of that there is this: in 1843, President Tyler signed a bill that authorized the grant of $30,000 (a sizeable sum in those days) to develope a new machine called The Electo Magnetic Telegraph. Many newspapers of the day derided the grant a chimerical folly, a costly vanity project and worse. The final chapter is a summary of the recent global climate conferences, and references to both climate deniers and scientists working hard to counter these few with the overwhelming evidence. In 1988, even Margaret Thatcher gave an anxious address on global warming cautioning the humanity had "unwittingly begun a massive experiment with the system of the planet itself." There is also nice section in discussion with Dame Julia Slingo, Britain's most visible climate scientist who wonders how anyone can not be concerned about the risk of global warming. I really loved this book.

  • Russell
    2019-05-17 01:47

    "The Weather Experiment" provides a well-researched look at the early history of weather forecasting, primarily in the UK. Today, we take the 7- and 10-day forecasts for granted, but less than 200 years ago the most basic concepts such as a shared vocabulary for cloud types and wind speeds didn't exist. As with the best popular scientific histories, Moore weaves his tale around several key people, beginning with Sir Francis Beaufort, who established a wind speed scale still used (with modifications) today, and mentor to several of the other pioneers. Most of the book focuses on Admiral Robert FitzRoy, who today is perhaps best known as captain of the HMS Beagle, which signed a young Charles Darwin on as naturalist. FitzRoy deserves an equal measure of fame for his painstaking observations during that and other voyages, and his work in producing the first experimental weather forecasts for the UK. Primarily limited to predicting severe storms, over the course of his career he forecast over 400 warnings to ships, of which about 300 were considered accurate, an impressive record for its limited scientific understanding of causes.

  • Neely
    2019-05-11 21:52

    Great story of the birth of cloud spotting, the telegraph and weather forecastingLoved the way that the interdisciplinary elements of art and science were woven together.

  • Helen
    2019-05-20 22:51

    Can you imagine not knowing that weather moves from one place to another? that hot air rises? that clouds are all water? This book goes back to times when these things were not understood and follows our search for understanding. It was fascinating to empty the mind of whatever knowledge I have and then watch one revelation after another occur. It was only possible to track weather once there were means of communication and travel. Mapping had to progress and things like isobars had to be agreed upon. Samuel Morse and his code meant messages could travel almost instantaneously so people could be warned about approaching weather. The study of hurricanes is a recent thing. This was a great book which even had photos and drawings.

  • Clark Hays
    2019-05-07 03:54

    The storm kingsGetting a reliable weather forecast these days is as simple as looking at the omnipresent smart phone; severe weather news is beamed in instantly with alerts or breaking news. We take accurate weather forecasting so much for granted, it’s easy to forget that there are centuries of science packed into the handheld convenience — hard won science that came at the expense of reputations and health, science that challenged the status quo, science that changed the world. Not that long ago, meteorology was a complete mystery, weather forecasting was a joke or possibly magic and it really didn’t matter because humans lacked a reliable means of quickly communicating about the weather ahead of inclement conditions. This book traces the lives of the men who — because they were enchanted by clouds and storms — created the modern science of meteorology from scratch and harnessed the power of new technology, like the telegraph, to develop warning systems that saved lives, ships and cargo. It’s long on biographical details and shorter on science (though the section on how ice crystals in cumulonimbus clouds become rain was particularly well-written and illuminating), and a bit longer read, in general, than I expected — but perhaps that’s because I started to lose track of all the various misguided, mostly British gentlemen who studied snowflakes and sailed the frigid waters of the Straits of Magellan and soared above the earth to new limits in a hot air balloon to better understand the atmosphere around us. And that last section was especially thrilling — the two scientists traveled so high, and without oxygen of course, much less Gore-Tex, that they began to suffer from hypoxia and hypoxemia. And then the ropes became entangled and one of them had to clamber about, slowly losing feeling in his extremities as his skin turned black, and slowly losing consciousness while his friend slumped unconscious in the gondola below, to try and save them. And all of this while five miles above the earth and facing almost certain death. They didn’t die; they learned new things about our planet that added to the growing body of knowledge that would ultimately make the weather app on our smartphones more powerful than the sum of centuries of misunderstanding.I’ve long enjoyed clouds and the weather, but lacked the other traits that would make me an excellent nineteenth century scientist: “rationally minded, punctilious and formidably productive” [the author was writing about weather legend James Glaisher]. I prefer to spend my time dreamily watching the clouds rather than analyzing them. But I was pleased to learn the first recorded use of telegraphed (and thus geographically broad and timely) weather reporting occurred on August 31, my birthday, in 1848. My fondness for clouds was, it seems, inevitable. A good read, well-written, for those interested in learning more about the scientists who tamed — or at least stole the thunder from — the storms.

  • Paul
    2019-05-13 23:55

    When English people are not sure what to talk about, they discuss the weather. They probably did that 300 odd years ago too, but rather than seeing that the weather was part of a global system, it was assumed that all weather was Gods will, and a storm was evidence of his displeasure. In this book Moore brings to us the men who went against the convention and dogma of the day, with the hope of unlocking the secrets of the skies and understanding what made our weather.The pioneers of science first sought to quantify and bring order to the atmosphere. There is Luke Howard the man who described and named the different cloud formations, Francis Beaufort who devised a scale so that wind strength could be quantified. James Glaisher started in astronomy but his fascination in the weather meant that he was the ideal man to take measurements in the first trips in hot air balloons to understand the upper atmosphere. Key to it all was Admiral Robert FitzRoy, sailor, explorer, scientist and the founder of what we now know as he Met Office. There were others too; James Epsy who thought he could control the weather, and the American scientists who explained the reason why a hurricane twists. There were others who contributed, in other technologies, such as Samuel Morse who gave us the telegraph, and allowed rapid transmission of the data collected by individuals across the country to the office in Whitehall.These men were driven by saving lives for the navy and coastal communities. They taught people how to understand the instruments that they were using to take measurements. He describes the fight that they had against the vested interests of the day, as well as they complete disbelief that these men could predict the weather and in particular storms. The first few times that FitzRoy got a storm prediction wrong he was lambasted in the papers, but the men who used these warnings knew that these were vital to their trades.Moore brings these men together in a narrative that is fascinating and compelling in equal measure. He brings alive the drive and obsession that these men had in understanding how the weather happened, and more importantly what happens on a summer day, compared to another day. The legacy that they have given us is a much better understanding of the atmosphere, weather trends and cycles. It has also given us the Met Office. One of our national sports is slating them when they get something wrong, especially on long term predictions or missing the odd hurricane, but for the day to day forecasts they are normally pretty good. Overall a pretty good book, but I would have preferred a more UK focus as he did head across the Atlantic and Channel fairly often, but still well worth reading.

  • Art
    2019-05-05 19:44

    Religious dogma stifled meteorology for centuries. The weather was considered a sign of mercy or vengeance. And storms expressed God's wrath. Meanwhile, curiosity was a vice while rational investigation was suppressed, writes Peter Moore. For decades, newspapers used a timeworn expression when describing extreme weather: "In the memory of the oldest person living, …" But by the 1840s, numbers, math and science replaced shopworn anecdotes. In 1848, weather observation began to appear in newspapers. But those were reports of yesterday's weather. For predictions of tomorrow's weather, the first newspaper forecast appeared in 1861. The telegraph was the key to weather observations that extrapolated into predictions. Benjamin Franklin, in the 1750s, brought science to weather when he attracted a bolt of lightning to his kite during a thunderstorm, demonstrating the electrical charge. Although the date remains uncertain, well before 1776, Thomas Jefferson began keeping weather records at Monticello, a habit that lasted about fifty years. Jefferson was among the early weather observers. He could see maybe fifteen miles to the horizon. Electrical telegraph began in 1837 England. Samuel FB Morse, in the United States, contributed to its development including the transmission code named for him. By the 1860s, the telegraph became the technology that made weather forecasting possible. Before the telegraph, people used semaphore to communicate by line of sight from tower to tower. Franklin, Jefferson and Morse are among the few Americans whose stories appear in this book, which suffers from a British bias. The book includes personality profiles of Brits, mostly, who lived between 1800 and 1870. For example, the book missed the story and contribution of Increase Lapham, who is considered the father of the National Weather Service. In 1870, Lapham wrote the first weather forecast in the United States, a Great Lakes storm warning, described in many sources, including Studying Wisconsin: The Life of Increase Lapham, early chronicler of plants, rocks, rivers, mounds and all things Wisconsin. Interesting personality-driven book. I prefer stories structured for the narrative. Three and a half stars. Another recent book favored personality over narrative: The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution.

  • Peter Goodman
    2019-05-08 03:00

    “The Weather Experiment: the pioneers who sought to see the future,” by Peter Moore (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015). Here is a book that makes what should be excruciatingly dull into something tremendously exciting. The argument: from around 1800 to around 1860, “natural philosophers,” mostly British but with some Americans and French, created the science of meteorology, which made weather forecasting possible and changed the way we live. It is full of fascinating characters, starting with Robert FitzRoy, best known as the captain of the Beagle during Darwin’s voyage. FitzRoy was among many other things an absolutely superb seaman, intelligent, dedicated, endlessly curious. He wound up an admiral, founded the British weather service, invented storm warnings and weather forecasts, and ultimately killed himself when his beloved weather service was under fierce attack. There is also Francis Beaufort, who codified wind speed into the Beaufort Scale; John Constable, whose landscape paintings were based on precise descriptions of the weather in a particular place and time; the extraordinarily courageous James Glaisher, who used balloons to travel as high up as 36,000 feet (without oxygen) to map the depth and structure of the atmosphere; and others. Before they began weather and climate were mysteries that owed their changes to God. But by dint of exceptionally meticulous measurements, gathering of geographical information about the paths of storms, observations of barometer, thermometer and hygrographic levels and changes, they gradually began to find that weather moved in predictable ways, that storms occurred at the juncture of high and low-pressure systems, that some storms went in a clockwise direction (cyclones) and others counterclockwise (anti-cyclones), that through careful observation of wind and cloud one could predict what weather conditions would be like---especially the possibility of storms, etc. Along the way the scientists fought with one another over theory and observation, while the general public watched in fascination, attending lectures, reading detailed stories in newspapers, reading books on the subject. Moore makes endless cycles of taking data and making observations and calculations into exciting, even suspenseful stories. He shows what happens when sailors ignored the warnings, and what happened when they didn’t. He includes rich, entertaining portraits of the people involved, without too much digression. Remarkably, this is a fun book!

  • Katze102
    2019-05-08 20:57

    Bis weit ins 19. Jahrhundert wurde das Wetter als Wirken Gottes interpretiert, weil man es nicht verstand. Dies änderte sich langsam, als ab 1800 aufgeklärte Gelehrte hinterfragten, beobachteten, Lehren daraus zogen und gemeinsame Standarts entwickelten.Peter Moore beschreibt in „Das Wetterexperiment“ die Anfänge der Meteorologie, von ersten Beobachtungen, technischen Entwicklungen ( z:B. Die Entwicklung des Telegrafen), Sammeln der Erkenntnisse und Daten, ehe 1861 die ersten amtlichen Wettervorhersagen für das ganze Land herausgegeben wurden.Moore schreibt über Pioniere, Abenteurer, Wissbegierige, Weltenumsegler, den ersten Wettertagebüchern, der Entwicklung des Telegrafen, der Windskala und Wettertypen, eingeteilt mit Buchstabenkombinationen, genauso, wie Beobachtungen in der detaillierten Landschaftsmalerei, die Zusammenhänge zwischen verschiedenen Wolkenvarianten, Wind- und Lichtverhältnissen aufzeigt.Auch technisch gibt es viele Neuerungen, z.B. Thermo-, Baro- und Hygrometer, so dass einheitliche Skalen oder Parameter für die Wettervorhersage oder Experimente gemeingültig formuliert werden können. Wissbegierige verschiedener Fakultäten tragen ihre unterschiedlichen Erkenntnisse zusammen; die erste Sturmwarnung ist möglich.Besonders beeindruckt mich, wie Moore diese Entwicklung ganzheitlich erzählt, eingebettet in den historischen Zusammenhang. Stets vermittelt er ein Gesamtbild durch Erläuterung des Zeitgeschehen, seien es die Kriegsführung Napoleons ( die sein Einmarschieren per Tefegraf wie ein Lauffeuer verbreitete), die Erfindung der Dampfmaschine, der Theorie der Photosynthese oder Darwins Überlegungen u.a. zur Transmutation..... Die Erläuterungen werden sehr detailverliebt erzählt; unzählige Namen und Textquellen ( z.B. Briefe) werden aufgeführt; der ergänzende Anhang mit Quellen beläuft sich auf ca. 50 Seiten. Dabei gelingt es Moore von den Pionieren der Meteorologie und deren Entwicklung so fesselnd zu schreiben, so abwechslungsreich und spannend, dass man unwillkürlich an Romane von Jules Verne denken muß.Peter Moore ist es gelungen, Wissensvermittlung so spannend zu schreiben, als wäre es ein Abenteuerroman, den man nicht mehr weglegen kann, bis man zum Ende gekommen ist.

  • Supriya Gokarn
    2019-05-03 02:09

    I'd give this book 3.5 stars, but since you can't do half stars on Goodreads I'm marking this down to 3. For anyone interested in the science of meteorology, weather in general or about all the excitement, hardship and adventure of scientists pioneering a field of study, this would be a great book. I thought this book was a fairly good read but I'm a little torn about it. I thought the pace was a little sluggish to start off with but picks up everytime the author writes about Admiral Robert FitzRoy. In fact, it sometimes felt as thought the book was meant to be about FitzRoy and his life's work as opposed to the stories of a group of scientists who pioneered the field. FitzRoy gets the most generous amount of space in the book and the fullest character assessment, which is very interesting, but the other scientists seem more hastily drawn in comparison. I also felt like while the subject was interesting to learn about, it didn't quite grip me as much as I thought it might. Perhaps this was because the period under consideration was only the 19th century, so the very beginnings of the science of meteorology. And while I feel like I know a lot more about the fledgling science in this period, I feel like the author didn't connect those early learnings with what we know now or all the progress made since then. The final chapter does do some of that, but I felt like it wasn't enough. What I did love reading about was the many risks these early scientists took in the pursuit of knowledge, about how dangerous some fact and data finding missions were- particularly James Glaisher's multiple hot air balloon assents. Really shows you that the path to gaining knowledge is sometimes fraught with danger! A lot of these scientists were not at all lab bound.This isn't a short read and can sometimes be a little dense. I'd advise reading a snippet in Goodreads or Amazon before diving in.

  • George
    2019-05-04 20:04

    The Weather Experiment explores the development of weather forecasts in the nineteenth century, with a focus on the British pioneers in the area although some acknowledgment is made to American and Continental European contributions. Moore focuses on brief bios of the major contributors, with Admiral Robert FitzRoy, best known now as the captain of Darwin's famed voyage on the Beagle, as the star of the whole book. In fact, it's easy to see how the book could have been recast as a biography of FitzRoy, with additional context showing how his work fit into what others were doing. In college I took a "Creative Nonfiction" class that looked at how storytelling principles used in fiction could be applied to nonfiction topics. It feels like Moore may have taken on many of the same lessons, as there are several features, such as interstitial sections that describe the passage of a day across the course of the book and side journeys in less obvious directions -- like a section on the paintings of Constable that goes on a bit too long. FitzRoy, though, provides the perfect subject for Moore to use a base for exploring larger themes -- observational vs. theoretical science, the concerns of those who felt that science was delving too far into God's territory, and the ways in which personalities and politics can drive scientific research. There is a saying that science advances "one funeral at a time," and that is clearly demonstrated here.Moore's explanations of the science is not as convincing as that provided by other writers of similar books. I don't know that I necessarily deepened my understanding, but I was left with a respect and appreciation for those who sought to uncover the mysteries of the skies in many cases without leaving the ground.

  • Emily
    2019-04-25 01:53

    Really interesting content, but it felt like the author jumped around. I wanted more resolution to some of the topics - how exactly did we come to describe both circular and linear wind patterns, for example. It never gets into the history of the Coriolis Effect. Did all of the record-keeping of the Royal Navy come to any use?If the intent of the book was just to detail the things leading up to weather forecasting, it should have streamlined its focus and not given us so much Fitzroy as a sailor or Constable the painter backstory. If the intent was to give all the history of meteorology, then Coriolis and the acceleration of the science during WWI and WWII would have been really interesting subject matter.

  • Steve Wiggins
    2019-04-25 01:06

    Meteorology, numbers aside, is a fascinating field of study. In preparation for my second book I read quite a bit about it. What's really interesting about Moore's book is how the field developed almost incidentally because of the belief that God controlled the weather. It was beyond the realm of science. Looking at the history of (principally British) intellectuals, Moore draws a compelling line of development. Sir Francis Beaufort and Admiral Robert FitzRoy make up the majority of the narrative, with several other luminaries mixed in.Although I found the idea of painting as a scientific tool before photography developed, the chapter on John Constable seemed somewhat out of place. The other stories, of how the needs of navigation (FitzRoy was the captain of the Beagle on Darwin's famous voyage), the fear of Napoleon, and the stony path to success of the telegraph—for the first time transmitting knowledge instantaneously over distance—are fascinating components to the story of how individuals came to understand the weather. FitzRoy's religious conservatism may have led to his inability to be considered the true master of science. I had no idea that he had invented the weather forecast.In turns tragic and poignant, this history will be of interest to all who continue to find the weather fascinating. A section on global warming assures that it will be a practical book as well as an merely interesting one.As usual, I wrote more about it on my blog: Sects and Violence in the Ancient World.

  • Paul L'Herrou
    2019-05-10 00:43

    During the Cold War the US Air Force sent me to MIT for a year to study meteorology. I spent the remainder of my 3-year commitment as a meteorologist at Whiteman AFB, where the air crews were constantly training and ready to take to the air in a matter of minutes to drop their nuclear bombs on the Soviet Union. The whole situation was literally MAD (mutually assured destruction). Fortuitously, though there were close calls, the unthinkable never came about.Meteorology was not my forte, but it left me with an abiding curiosity and interest. So, I found this account of the earliest pioneers to begin to bring about the change - from weather as a complete mystery of God, to something possibly understandable by science and maybe even be liable to forecast - to be an interesting subject. One of those pioneers was Robert Fitz-Roy, who captained the Beagle, accompanied by Charles Darwin as he formed his theory of evolution. "The Weather Experiment" was interesting and connected the subject to a broader perspective of the growth of science and technology in the 19th century, but with more information about the lives of these early pioneers and the challenges they faced than most of us would ever want to know.

  • Andrew
    2019-05-17 00:03

    A mishmash of a book.Modern meteorology started with the invention of the telegraph in the 1840s and the ability to collect data from across the country. But it takes Moore more than 200 pages to get there, so the reader gets digressions on English naturalist painters, which take up a large early part of this book.Which is not to say that there isn't fascinating information in the book. Indeed Admiral Robert FitzRoy is an important character in building the modern science and the reader may already know him as the captain of the Beagle, on which Charles Darwin sailed to the Galapagos in the 1830s.And when John Ball, a new MP, predicts to Parliament in 1854 that "In a few years, notwithstanding the variable climate of this country, we might know in this metropolis the condition of weather 24 hours beforehand," he is greeted by laughter.As central a position as FitzRoy plays in the debate over weather science, Moore abandons him at his death and then skips 150 years into the future to modern debates over global climate change. There's drama here but Moore missed it entirely.

  • Bob
    2019-05-09 01:07

    The book is mostly about the personalities of the people who developed the science of meteorology in the middle of the 19th Century, who were, for the most part, a group of Victorian men all with personality quirks of some type. The major characters you run into are Beaufort, who should seem interesting, but wasn't; Fitz Roy, the man who coined the term "forecast", and Glaisher, the obsessive data collector.Much of the work done in weather forecasting was done in Great Britain (where the author is from), but Americans made their contributions too. One of the problems that Victorian era meteorologists ran into was that no one expected anyone to be able to predict the weather with any certainty. But when Fitz Roy claimed to be able to do it (at least 24 hours in advance), people were unbelieving. And when he was wrong, he was ridiculed. However, he was right more often than wrong.The most interesting part of the book may be the epilog that draws parallels between the problems that meteorologists had getting their work accepted in the 19th Century and how they still do today.

  • Charlotte Hogg
    2019-05-19 02:50

    Brits are damn good at weather, right? Met Office the pride of the world, rain at the centre of our small talk...this book goes to explain how and why the weather came to be part and parcel of our island's culture and identity. I learned that the early practice of weather forecasting was essentially a massive crowd-sourcing / big data project, as well as the life stories of some of the big names of weather-science (Beaufort and Fitzroy) that I vaguely remember from Geography lessons. Of course Michael Fish' ill-fated hurricane moment gets a mention, there's some art history in here too (via analysis of Constable's dutiful cloud painting). I liked the strongly reasoned rebuttal of climate change denial in the last chapter, this made it well worth wading through a few chunks of dry biography in the middle of the book.

  • Alexander Van Leadam
    2019-05-13 23:48

    You can tell when a book is written by a professional writer. It reads with ease and pleasure, despite the abundance of standard expressions. The subject is treated dispassionately and informatively, even when it is not that fascinating. In this vein, the book tells the story of a couple of pioneers in meteorology, in particular Robert FitzRoy. The only problem is that most characters are presented too positively, with few if any flows, certainly none that would reveal traces of meanness or pettiness in forgotten great men.

  • andrew
    2019-05-03 20:48

    The "weather experiment" in the title refers to the first attempts to forecast the weather in the 19th century. While there are interesting aspects of this account of the accomplishments of early meteorologists (and critically important ancillary contributions - such as Samuel Morse's invention of the telegraph without which there would have been no way to convey the forecasts across a long distance) the story gets bogged down in excessive minutiae.

  • Leslie
    2019-05-20 03:07

    Truth be told -- I got to the half way mark and just started skimming. It is so boring; you really have to be a super weather freak to enjoy this book. There are so many primary sources used and too much detail about these men's lives. I just didn't care. I wanted good science journalism like Mary Roach does.

  • Emilie
    2019-05-03 03:41

    This book had its moments. It did a good job illustrating our slow progress toward weather forecasting and underlining how significant of an achievement this was. However, it was slow at times, and I sometimes had trouble keeping track of the various "characters" in the history. Some sections were better than others, and ultimately I found it a bit uneven.

  • Ariana
    2019-04-21 00:53

    Very informative, but the author focussed too much on the contributions of British citizen, although there was some mention in the narrative of at least one American and one French. I also wanted it to continue further into the 20th century, even though the title mentioned "pioneers".Perhaps there will be a second book. If so, I look forward to reading about it.