Namer of Clouds

Richard Hamblyn

This article appeared in the TES Teacher supplement on 17 January 2003

‘Water with Altitude: Luke Howard and the Naming of Clouds’

On a cold December evening in 1802, the forty or so members of an amateur science club made their way down a steep flight of stairs and into a cavernous laboratory in London, where a nervous young man was preparing himself to deliver that evening’s lecture. The usual discomforts of public speaking would have been worse for a Quaker, and worse still for one as self-doubting and preoccupied as the thirty-year-old chemist Luke Howard. Even the title of his lecture, ‘On the Modifications of Clouds’, seemed modest and understated compared with the titles of some of the other talks that had been delivered to the science club over the course of that winter: ‘On the Explosivity of Gunpowder’, for example, or ‘On the Surprising Powers of the Divining…

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