The Invention of Clouds: How an Amateur Meteorologist Forged the Language of the Skies

Front Cover
Macmillan, Aug 3, 2002 - History - 256 pages
9 Reviews
Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize

The early years of the nineteenth century saw an intriguing yet little-known scientific advance catapult a shy young Quaker to the dizzy heights of fame. The Invention of Clouds tells the extraordinary story of an amateur meteorologist, Luke Howard, and his groundbreaking work to define what had hitherto been random and unknowable structures—clouds.

In December 1802, Luke Howard delivered a lecture that was to be a defining point in natural history and meteorology. He named the clouds, classifying them in terms that remain familiar to this day: cirrus, stratus, cumulus, and nimbus. This new and precise nomenclature sparked worldwide interest and captured the imaginations of some of the century's greatest figures in the fields of art, literature, and science. Goethe, Constable, and Coleridge were among those who came to revere Howard's vision of an aerial landscape. Legitimized by the elevation of this new classification and nomenclature, meteorology fast became a respectable science.

Although his work is still the basis of modern meteorology, Luke Howard himself has long been overlooked. Part history of science, part cultural excavation, The Invention of Clouds is a detailed and informative examination of Howard's life and achievements and introduces a new audience to the language of the skies.
  

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Review: Invention of Clouds

User Review  - Jude Brigley - Goodreads

Fascinating insights here into the Romantic period as well as into a typical man of the time. It gives a real sense of the growth of science and how science once belonged to the people. It was ... Read full review

Review: Invention of Clouds

User Review  - Stephen Case - Goodreads

I finished this book on an overcast evening. By the time I was done, the setting sun had broken through the clouds to reveal a strikingly three-dimensional panorama of torn vapor and gold. It was a ... Read full review

Contents

The Theatre of Science
4
A Brief History of Clouds
15
The Cloud Messenger
33
Scenes from Childhood
40
The Askesian Society
62
Other Classifications
90
Publication
112
Growing Influence
141
The Beaufort Scale
184
Goethe and Constable
204
The International Year of Clouds
231
Afterlife
249
Cloud Species and Varieties
255
Notes
259
Acknowledgements
283
Index
285

Fame
166

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About the author (2002)

Richard Hamblyn was born in 1965 and is a graduate of the universities of Essex and Cambridge, where he wrote a doctoral dissertation on the early history of geology in Britain. He lives and works in London.

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