Friday, February 6, 2009

Meterolog* (for Meteorolog*)

Red sky at night,
sailors delight

Red sky in the morning,
sailors take warning

Weather forecasting has been attempted by humans for thousands of years, with versions of the above proverb occurring in the Bible and in Shakespeare.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle is considered one of the fathers of weather prediction, having written the book Meteorology around 350 BCE. Some of his knowledge was quite impressive: he described an early version of the hydrological cycle, for example. However, there were also major gaps in the way the ancients thought about weather: Aristotle did not believe that wind was moving air, and he supposed that the west wind was cold because it came from the sunset.

Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere may be getting a little tired of meteorology this time of year, with its predictions of cold, cold, and more cold. To make ourselves feel better, let’s look at the forecast for today in Yellowknife, Canada: -31°C (-24°F). Well…at least it’s sunny?

Watch out for stiff, cold typing fingers: Meterolog* is a typo of the highest probability on the Ballard list, occurring over 140 times in OhioLINK.

If you’re interested in weather, the Library of Congress has a fascinating page about the veracity of the “Red sky at night” adage.

Leanne Olson

(Red sunset at sea in Italy photograph from RayDS's Flickr photostream)

No comments: