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

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9780312420017: The Invention of Clouds: How an Amateur Meteorologist Forged the Language of the Skies

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:

British science writer Richard Hamblyn skillfully blends biography with scientific and cultural history to capture for modern readers the remarkable achievement of Luke Howard (1772-1864), the quiet Quaker whose classification of cloud types we still employ today. "Cirrus," "cumulus," and "stratus" now seem almost self-evident descriptions, but when Howard gave his epochal lecture at London's Askesian Society in 1802, the bewildering variety of clouds was more obvious than anything else. Howard's great achievement, writes Hamblyn with characteristic elegance, was "the penetrating insight that clouds have many individual shapes but few basic forms." His graceful résumé of meteorology from the time of the ancient Chinese shows just how difficult generations of scientists found it to make sense of clouds, which frequently served as a metaphor for the awesome complexity of the natural world. Hamblyn's marvelous portrait of English cultural life at the turn of the 19th century reminds us how enthralled the general public was by scientific lectures and demonstrations, which served as a form of popular entertainment as well as a valuable tool in the dissemination of knowledge. "People cheered at lectures," he notes, and young men like Howard, a pharmacist by trade, "refused to allow the circumstances in which they found themselves to deflect them from [a] heroic sense of destiny." This was the great age of amateur scientists, many of them Dissenters like Howard whose religious unorthodoxy barred them from government service and aristocratic clubs. They forged their own place in England's burgeoning industries and in the scientific revolution unleashed by Isaac Newton. Howard, a devoted husband and father active in educational work and the antislavery movement, was representative of the remarkable autodidacts who reshaped European culture. Their work "served the equal demands of pleasure, instruction, and imagination," states Hamblyn, whose delightful book fulfills the same admirable purpose. --Wendy Smith

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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Book Description Picador USA, United States, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. 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. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780312420017

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Book Description Picador USA, United States, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. 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. Bookseller Inventory # BZE9780312420017

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Book Description Picador USA, United States, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.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. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780312420017

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Book Description Picador. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Paperback. 256 pages. Dimensions: 8.3in. x 5.5in. x 0.8in.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 unknowable structuresclouds. 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 centurys greatest figures in the fields of art, literature, and science. Goethe, Constable, and Coleridge were among those who came to revere Howards 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 Howards life and achievements and introduces a new audience to the language of the skies. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 9780312420017

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