cover image The Weather Experiment: The Pioneers Who Sought to See the Future

The Weather Experiment: The Pioneers Who Sought to See the Future

Peter Moore. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $30 (384p) ISBN 978-0-86547-809-1

Moore (Damn His Blood) examines the lives and works of 19th-century men of science as they developed the burgeoning field of meteorology in this excellent history. He proceeds more or less chronologically, concentrating primarily on the contributions of Britons, such as Francis Beaufort, developer of the scale of winds; noted landscape painter John Constable; Astronomer Royal George Airy; and James Glaisher, who was famed for his balloon ascents into the upper atmosphere. A few Americans also feature here: Benjamin Franklin and his lightning experiments, storm theorist James Espy, and telegraph inventor Samuel F.B. Morse. Moore’s true hero is Robert FitzRoy, a tragic figure who is mostly remembered today as the captain of the Beagle on Charles Darwin’s famous journey. FitzRoy’s contributions to meteorology came later in life when he began the first systematic forecasts of weather, which were based on reports from around the British Isles received via telegraph. Along with the many brief biographies and sketches of scientific squabbles, Moore also weaves in interludes describing a day of weather. This is a worthy investigation of the history of weather forecasting as seen through a British lens. [em](June) [/em]