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

by Richard Hamblyn
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Overview

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

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312420017
Publisher: Picador
Publication date: 08/01/2002
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.68(d)

About the Author

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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The Invention of Clouds: How an Amateur Meteorologist Forged the Language of the Skies 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful book about the man who named the clouds. I don't usually read science books, but this one caught my eye, as it seemed to be more accessible and human than the usual kind of popular science book - and I really enjoyed it. Richard Hamblyn writes very well, with lots of quotable phrases, such as 'weather writes, erases, and rewrites itself upon the sky with the endless fluidity of language', and he seems to be interested in poetry, art, history and myth, as well as in the science of the weather. The book covers a wide area of subject matter, but is paced well, is pithy and informative, and has the added bonus of well-chosen chapter mottoes, which I always like, and a good index. All in all, this is an excellent read, which I recommend highly, whether or not you might be interested in science.