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

The Invention of Clouds How an Amateur Meteorologist Forged the Language of the Skies Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book PrizeThe 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 I

  • Title: The Invention of Clouds: How an Amateur Meteorologist Forged the Language of the Skies
  • Author: Richard Hamblyn
  • ISBN: 9780312420017
  • Page: 102
  • Format: Paperback
  • Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book PrizeThe 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 unknowableWinner of the Los Angeles Times Book PrizeThe 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.

    One thought on “The Invention of Clouds: How an Amateur Meteorologist Forged the Language of the Skies”

    1. Rating: 4* of fiveThe Publisher Says: The Invention of Clouds is the true story of Luke Howard, the amateur English meteorologist who in 1802 gave the clouds their names -- cumulus, cirrus, stratus. He immediately gained international fame, becoming a cult figure among artists and painters -- Goethe, Constable, and Coleridge revered him -- and legitimizing the science of meteorology. Part history of science, part cultural excavation, this is not only the biography of a man, but of a moment: the [...]

    2. Exactly what it says it is: the story of how two hundred years ago an amateur meteorologist developed the language to describe clouds. Enjoyable and I definitely recommend it for people that enjoy the history of science.

    3. 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 cloudscape, the kind I try to capture in my stories “Unborn God” and “The Wizard’s House”—part of a series I’m calling Cartography of Clouds that will be published shortly in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. It was also a fitting backdrop to the conclusion of this book on the history of attempts [...]

    4. For a history book, Richard Hamblyn’s The Invention of Clouds is highly readable. Despite the numerous characters that make an appearance, all the tangential but relevant details, and the breadth of the subject, Hamblyn is able to present a coherent and fascinating narrative. Because historical events cannot happen in isolation, by focusing on how the clouds came to be named, Hamblyn has painted a portrait of scientific culture in the early 19th century, the birth of modern meteorology, and th [...]

    5. Interesante ensayo sobre la vida de Luke Howard, cómo clasificó y nombró las nubes, todos lo problemas que surgieron y como se llega a la nomenclatura actual.Todo ello, explicando la sociedad d la época, como se vivía la ciencia y sus adelantos y las relaciones entre las diferentes personalidades que fueron muchas.

    6. The invention of clouds, how an amateur meteorologist forged the language of the skies by Richard Hamblyn Talks a bit about the 4 different cloud formations but more about the amateur meteorologist and his life.I received this book from National Library Service for my BARD (Braille Audio Reading Device).

    7. Written for the general audience, this book is more than just a telling of how clouds came to be named (e.g. cumulus, nimbus). It is the story of the beginning of meteorology, reviewing prior attempts to explain and identify clouds and weather in general, beginning with Assyrian times. This recounting highlights Howard's invention of cloud names and identification of the different types of clouds, which is difficult to do as they are evanescent things. I was interested to find that so many peopl [...]

    8. Yet another book I loved! As a sailor I have a keen interest in the weather and some meteorological knowledge beyond your average everyday stuff. This well written historical and scientific book on the life of Luke Howard and how he gave us the classification of clouds that we use even today, is great! The writer is obviously enthusiastic about his subject and this comes across!! I enjoyed reading it very much Towards the end mention is made of how photography made cloud classification even bett [...]

    9. You call the wispy high clouds of the December sky “cirrus”. So does the German, Spaniard, Russian, Afrikaner… We have a common language for speaking of clouds due to a remarkable Quaker chemist, Luke Howard, who codified and named clouds (in Latin, the scientific language then and now) according to the behavior he had observed. In The Invention of Clouds, Richard Hamblyn tells us not only about the life, times and work of this amateur meteorologist, but also about his remarkable colleague [...]

    10. Richard Hamblyn's The Invention of Clouds is a fascinating book that looks at the history of how clouds were classified into the types by which we know them today (eg cirrus, altostratus, cumulus), It centres on Luke Howard, the meteorologist who first came up with a properly workable and universal cloud classification (there had been other attempts, but they hadn't been successful).The book is an excellent biography of Howard, but it is also offers excellent insights into the long history of me [...]

    11. This exquisite book is blowing me away. As the title implies, Hamblyn posits that our meteorological invention of weather is more like an attempt to fit physics into our human concept of language. Our ancient mythologies did this when we assigned personae to clouds, wind, sun, moon, thunder, lightning, stars, sky, planets and earth in the form of gods. Even monotheists did it, as explained by Hamblyn on page 26 when he recounts the Jews' Exodus from Egypt to Sinai and Canaan and they saw high-bu [...]

    12. “Clouds themselves, by their very nature, are self-ruining and fragmentary. They flee in haste over visible horizons to their quickly forgotten denouements. Every cloud is a small catastrophe, a world of vapor that dies before our eyes,” writes author Richard Hamblyn. In short, clouds are ethereal things, as the Bard might say, “too flattering-sweet to be substantial.” Indeed. “What could there be to a cloud in the sky beyond a vague metaphorical allure?” And how could anyone organiz [...]

    13. This was interesting--an insight both into meteorological history and (of interest to me) Quaker history. Excellently researched and structuredally delves into both the roots of meteorology and Howard's background and personality. I read the hardcover edition, the one depicted here, and I cannot for the life of me figure out why someone designed a book that was over an inch thick, about 5 inches high, and 8 inches wide. It hurt my hands to hold this book while reading it! I'm jealous of those wh [...]

    14. I thought this book was going to be extremely dull, but was delighted when I found that it wasn't. As a young scientist I found myself inspired by this story of a young scientist who created the convention of naming clouds, that we still use today. Science is done so much differently these days that it was a mere hundred years ago. Sure in our present era there is so much technology and knowledge that wasn't available then, but it feels like researchers mindsets have evolved as well. Who would d [...]

    15. This book is full of fascinating information and is largely engaging. But the writing style is a bit over-workshopped, as if the editors had said, "Richard, this bit is interesting, but can we have some more here about X?" and then the author fills in with a long, detailed, interesting, but narratively distracting passage. Inexplicable that this would have won the prizes and encomiums it has. Good bedtime reading for wool-gatherers.

    16. If this book was any drier it would be a desert. There are all sorts of editing issues as the author takes what should have been short non-essential topics and stretches them out to boring proportions. There is an interesting story well hidden in this book but the problem is it lies under massive amounts of unnecessary prose. And as a little footnote this book was designed longer than it is high so it looks out of place on a bookshelf

    17. 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 extremely interesting to read the almost poetic descriptions of clouds and the influence of these ideas on the poets of the day.

    18. Really quite an interesting read for the first 200 pages - the history of the nomenclature of clouds interspesed with fascinating facts about meteorology. It however gets a bit too much when the author claims that 19th century poetry was influenced by Luke Howard's work - Goethe was a fan, apparently

    19. If you are geeky enough to love meteorology and the history of science (which I am) then this book is up your alley. This book explores the life of Luke Howard the inventor of the cloud nomenclature used to this day and dubbed by some to be the "father of meteorology".

    20. Good history of who said what & when, I suppose, but it did get a bit tedious - more about the politics of nineteenth century "science" than meteorology. It didn't work for me, but good research by the author - it's a history worth preserving.

    21. "Every cloud is a small catastrophe,a world of vapor that dies before our eyes.So how, when it is gone, and not a traceof its provisional existenceremains, might it be registered as anything other than a cursory sign in the sky? (124)

    22. A good read with a few dry spots. Overall though an informative history of the classification of clouds and the establishment of meteorology as a science. Particularly interesting are the parallels between London culture of the early 19th century to the modern resurgence of popular science.

    23. Unique book on the history of clouds. I didn't care for the landscape format, even though it might be a clever metaphor for the subject matter.

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