Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Weather Experiment

The Weather Experiment

The Pioneers Who Sought to See the Future

Peter Moore

Farrar, Straus and Giroux




In 1865 Admiral Robert FitzRoy locked himself in his dressing room and cut his throat. His grand meteorological project had failed. Yet only a decade later, FitzRoy's storm warning system and "forecasts" would return, the model for what we use today.

In an age when a storm at sea was evidence of God's wrath, nineteenth-century meteorologists had to fight against convention and religious dogma. Buoyed by the achievements of the Enlightenment, a generation of mavericks set out to decipher the secrets of the atmosphere and predict the future. Among them were Luke Howard, the first to classify clouds; Francis Beaufort, who quantified the winds; James Glaisher, who explored the upper atmosphere in a hot-air balloon; Samuel Morse, whose electric telegraph gave scientists the means by which to transmit weather warnings; and FitzRoy himself, master sailor, scientific pioneer, and founder of the U.K.'s national weather service.

Reputations were built and shattered. Fractious debates raged over decades between scientists from London and Galway, Paris and New York. Explaining the atmosphere was one thing, but predicting what it was going to do seemed a step too far. In 1854, when a politician suggested to the Commons that Londoners might soon know the weather twenty-four hours in advance, the House roared with laughter.

Peter Moore's The Weather Experiment navigates treacherous seas and rough winds to uncover the obsession that drove these men to great invention and greater understanding.

New York Times Book Review Notable Books of the Year



Writing in the Air

At a quarter to eight on a breezy spring morning in 1804, Francis Beaufort of the Irish Telegraph Corps came racing up the broad upper slopes of Croghan Hill, his militiamen close on his tail....


Praise for The Weather Experiment

“Fascinating . . . Moore is the rare science writer who can describe dew point so poetically you feel you’re with him in a twinkling field of white clover on a cool summer morning. Moore’s history is just as evocative, and full of wisdom for modern times.” —Cynthia Bernett, The New York Times Book Review

“[An] elegantly constructed group biography of the pioneering researchers who, by the end of the 19th century, succeeded in cracking the weather's code. In style and scope, The Weather Experiment recalls the best of its genre.” —Mike Jay, The Wall Street Journal

“Spirited . . . [The Weather Experiment] blends science, natural history, globe-trotting exploration, and even a little little art history . . . [Moore] is a gifted writer with a nifty turn of phrase.” —Matthew Prixce, The Boston Globe

“[A] richly researched, exciting book . . . [The Weather Experiment] is both scientific and cultural history, of prize-winning potential, and as fresh and exhilarating throughout as a strong sea breeze.” —James McConnachie, The Sunday Times

“Moore writes about this band of ad hoc scientists with brio, and it's hard not to be awed and charmed . . . Detailed and insightful, [The Weather Experiment] is as relevant as ever in this era of rapid climate change.” —Kirkus Review

“Gripping . . . [a] highly readable account of the transformation of modern meteorology from a science of description to a science of prediction . . . Moore's achievement is to imbue [FitzRoy] and his work with palpable narrative life.” —Richard Hamblyn, The Times Literary Supplement

“With Dickensian detail, Moore brings to life the likes of Francis Beaufort, with 'sabre scars on his arms, reminders of his days at sea,' and the determined Robert FitzRoy . . . Moore captures the suspense and wonder of a scientific discipline's birth.” —Gemma Tarlach, Discover

“A worthy investigation of the history of weather forecasting.” —Publishers Weekly

“[A] lucid account of nineteenth-century meteorology . . . Rich in personal details, intellectual conflict, and adventures of men pitted against the elements . . . You will be swept away by the vigor and eloquence of Moore's well-researched narrative.” —Laurence A. Marschall, Natural History

“Thought-provoking . . . Moore marshals his solidly researched historical information into a neat pattern . . . a gripping tale of derring-do.” —Patricia Fara, Literary Review

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Peter Moore

Peter Moore was born in Staffordshire, England in 1983. He is the author of Damn His Blood: Being a True and Detailed History of the Most Barbarous and Inhumane Murder at Oddingley and the Quick and Awful Retribution. He is a visiting lecturer at City University London, where he teaches nonfiction writing, and was recently the writer in residence at Gladstone's Library in Hawarden, Wales.

Peter Moore

From the Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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