HSHM 211 Lecture 10: Global Catastrophe 10
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Department
Hist of Science, Hist of Med
Course
HSHM 211
Professor
William Rankin
Semester
Spring

Description
HSHM 211: GLOBAL CATASTROPHE SINCE 1750 3/6/17: Forecasting and ideas of science, 1870-1930  Predictions 1. From expert judgment (humans) to numerical calculations (machine) 2. Becoming increasingly scientific? a. No, this is a misreading of both past and present  Weather prediction and global warming 1. The “infinite forecast” a. Same techniques, similar math 2. Conceptual problems with prediction in general a. What does it mean for a prediction to be correct? b. Are there inherent limits to predictability?  Unscientific 19 century? 1. Practical, rule-of-thumb forecasting a. 1918: accumulated weather-map expertise o Not useless, and no real progress over 50 years 2. Three kinds of meteorology a. Rule-of-thumb forecasting b. Massive data-gathering o Mostly climate, not weather o Statistics, instrumentation, organization, mapping o Galton and his patterns c. Basic physics o Applying thermodynamics and fluid dynamics to the atmosphere o Koppen d. The more to calculation-based prediction o Not really about forecasting, but intellectual and institutional unification in general 3. Vilhelm Bjerknes (1862-1951) a. Norwegian b. 1904: forecasting using only physics c. Seven variables that define a blot of air d. Said we have all the means in our hands to solve weather, but actually could not solve own equations e. “derive one map from another” f. “ultimate problem of meteorological science is precalculation of future states” o Ignores studies of variation, seasonal cycles, and microclimates o Wanted to unify meteorology as mathematical discipline only
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