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Invisible in the Storm

 

I enjoyed this book. It is a systematic account of the development of weather forecasting. The writing style is engaging there is a nice balance of historical and biographical detail as well as explanation of the relevant concepts from Mathematics and Physics. It is deliberately limited on the technical aspects.  I enjoyed the journey:  from developing physical model of the various aspects of weather; the remarkable power of simpler models in large scale phenomena in )the pre-computer era) in  motivating ongoing pursuit of the ‘holy grail’ of accurate prediction;  the convergence of technologies to  increase accuracy of measurement with  increasing scope and level of detail of measurement  and the increasing power of electronic computing unmasking the problem of chaos; and the need for more sophisticated mathematics to ‘tame the chaos’: to understand the constraints, to better characterize attractors, to develop horizons of prediction and to use statistical (probabilistic) methods such as  ensemble forecasting to place bounds on the uncertainties.

The book shows how complex and amazing the weather remains. The human endeavor to understand it has involved different personalities, different viewpoints,  changing capabilities. The book describes the importance of non-linearities in explaining the complex and chaotic observed phenomena…it strikes me that although the book presents the a systematic and incremental increase in understanding, that the complex interactions of people, time and technology make progress non-linear.  The birth of meteorology and its connections to the Mathemticsm Physics and Astronomy is fascinating. The book is another example of the unreasonable effectiveness of Mathematics in explaining the world, as well as the vision, persistence and  hard work of  Mathematicians, Physicists, and Metereologists.

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