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The Sunday Times bestseller. An astonishing account of the sailors, scientists and inventors who sought to understand the weather.
**Book of the Week on Radio 4**
'Gripping' The Times
'Exhilarating' Sunday Times
In an age when a storm was evidence of God’s wrath, pioneering meteorologists had to fight against convention and religious dogma to realise their ambitions. But buoyed by the achievements of the Enlightenment, a generation of mavericks set out to unlock the secrets of the atmosphere.
Meet Luke Howard, the first to classify the clouds, Francis Beaufort, quantifier of the winds, James Glaisher, explorer of the upper atmosphere by way of a hot air balloon, Samuel Morse, whose electric telegraph gave scientists the means by which to transmit weather warnings, and at the centre of it all Admiral Robert FitzRoy: master sailor, scientific pioneer and founder of the Met Office.
Peter Moore’s exhilarating account navigates treacherous seas, rough winds and uncovers the obsession that drove these men to great invention and greater understanding.
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.