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    The Invention of Clouds: How an Amateur Meteorologist Forged the Language of the Skies (Paperback) By (author) Richard Hamblyn

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    DescriptionAn extraordinary yet little-known scientific advance occurred in the opening years of the nineteenth century when a young amateur meteorologist, Luke Howard, gave the clouds the names by which they are known to this day. By creating a language to define structures that had, up to then, been considered random and unknowable, Howard revolutionized the science of meteorology and earned the admiration of his leading contemporaries in art, literature and science. Richard Hamblyn charts Howard's life from obscurity to international fame, and back to obscurity once more. He recreates the period's intoxicating atmosphere of scientific discovery, and shows how this provided inspiration for figures such as Goethe, Shelley and Constable. Offering rich insights into the nature of celebrity, the close relationship between the sciences and the arts, and the excitement generated by new ideas, "The Invention of Clouds" is an enthralling work of social and scientific history.


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  • Full bibliographic data for The Invention of Clouds

    Title
    The Invention of Clouds
    Subtitle
    How an Amateur Meteorologist Forged the Language of the Skies
    Authors and contributors
    By (author) Richard Hamblyn
    Physical properties
    Format: Paperback
    Number of pages: 304
    Width: 130 mm
    Height: 197 mm
    Thickness: 17 mm
    Weight: 203 g
    Language
    English
    ISBN
    ISBN 13: 9780330391955
    ISBN 10: 033039195X
    Classifications

    Nielsen BookScan Product Class 3: T8.0
    BIC subject category V2: BGH
    BIC E4L: SCP
    BIC subject category V2: PDX
    LC subject heading:
    BIC subject category V2: PDZ
    LC subject heading: , ,
    BIC subject category V2: WNWM
    Warengruppen-Systematik des deutschen Buchhandels: 16600
    BISAC V2.8: SCI031000
    LC subject heading: ,
    DC21: 551.576092
    Thema V1.0: DNBH, PDX, PDZ, WNWM
    Illustrations note
    facsimiles, portraits
    Publisher
    Pan MacMillan
    Imprint name
    PICADOR
    Publication date
    06 September 2002
    Publication City/Country
    London
    Author Information
    Richard Hamblyn was born in 1965 and is a graduate of the universities of Essex and of Cambridge, where he wrote a doctoral dissertation on the early history of geology in Britain. The Invention of Clouds, his first book, won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize; his second book, Terra: Tales of the Earth explores the human consequences of natural disasters. Hamblyn lives and works in London.
    Review quote
    'Elegantly written and richly diverting' Guardian
    Review text
    The early 19th century was the heyday of the amateur scientist. The scientific revolution, which began in the mid-17th century, spawned a huge public interest in science as a way of explaining the way the world worked. Young men, largely self-taught, pursued their own lines of scientific inquiry and presented them at large public meetings. It was a time when many natural phenomena remained unexplored and unexamined: the opportunities for making new discoveries were endless. Luke Howard was one such young man. Born in 1772, the son of a self-employed manufacturer and Quaker, he developed an early interest in meteorology, specifically cloud formations. Although it seems odd now, no-one at that time had developed either a completely successful explanation of how clouds were formed or a plausible system for classifying the different kinds of clouds. Hamblyn's biography tells the story of how Howard, who became a full-time pharmacist, developed his early interest in clouds to the point where he was able to deliver a public lecture in 1802 giving the first coherent account of how clouds worked or, as Hamblyn puts it, the 'penetrating... insight that clouds have many individual shapes but few basic forms'. The three basic types that Howard identified cirrus, cumulus and stratus are still used today. Howard's achievement was instantly and widely recognized: his admirers included both Constable and Goethe, who wrote a poem about him. Hamblyn does an excellent job of showing why Howard's work excited so much interest and admiration. He gives a clear explanation of Howard's theories and provides a detailed contextual picture, both of the history of meteorology and the 19th century's fascination with classification and measurement. The biographical detail is thin, but that doesn't matter: the story is of the scientist, rather than the man, and Hamblyn conveys beautifully the excitement and importance of Howard's scientific discovery. (Kirkus UK)