"My subject is a barren one – the world of nature, or in other words life; and that subject in its least elevated department, and employing either rustic terms or foreign, nay barbarian words that actually have to be introduced with an apology. Moreover, the path is not a beaten highway of authorship, nor one in which the mind is eager to range: there is not one of us who has made the same venture, nor yet one Roman who has tackled single-handed all departments of the subject."Naturalis Historia was written by Pliny the Elder between 77 and 79 CE and was meant to serve as a kind of proto-encyclopedia discussing all of the ancient knowledge available to him, covered in enough depth and breadth to make it by a reasonable margin the largest work to survive to the modern day from the Roman era. The work includes discussions on astronomy, meteorology, geography, mineralogy, zoology and botany organized along Aristotelian divisions of nature but also includes essays on human inventions and institutions. It is dedicated to the Emperor Titus in its epistle to the Emperor Vespasian, a close friend of Pliny who relied on his extensive knowledge, and its unusually careful citations of sources as well as its index makes it a precursor to modern scholarly works. It was Pliny's last work, as well as sadly his sole surviving one, and was published not long before his death attempting to save a friend from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum, famously recounted by Pliny's eponymous nephew Pliny the Younger.
Here is a reasonable translation that is freely available to download from archive.org for your edification.[more inside]
Meteorologist and climatologist Barbara Mayes Boustead has loved the Little House books since she was a little girl. At her blog Wilder Weather, Barbara makes "connections between weather and climate concepts, events during Laura’s time and in her books, and present or future weather and climate concerns." For example, in October of 1880, a storm is brewing. "The initial shot of cold air brought near-freezing temperatures and a little bit of precipitation up north on the 14th. The low pressure system deepened on the 15th as it got spinning in eastern Nebraska, pulling cold air around behind it while it brought moisture up from the south. Then, the low pressure just sat there for a while and deepened. As it got deeper, the winds behind it – in eastern South Dakota – got stronger. The storm stayed in the area of northwest Iowa to southern Minnesota through the 16th, then pulled away into northern Michigan on the 17th, leaving cold air and breezy conditions behind it." And in De Smet, South Dakota, Laura Ingalls and her family settle in for the beginning of the Long Winter. [more inside]
The Weather Channel is teaming with the National Centers for Environmental Prediction’s Hydrologic Prediction Center (HPC) to name winter storms in the US starting with the 2012-2013 winter season. [more inside]
One of my favorite blogs happens to be local to me. Eric Berger, the Houston Chronicle's "SciGuy" usually reports on the weather. But he also posts entertaining and serious stuff as well. [more inside]
The (U.S.) National Weather Service has released its report on a strong tornado that occured in Iowa the evening of May 25th. On the evening of May 25th, 2008 a tornado rated at EF5 (estimated wind speed was around 205 MPH!!) obliterated half of the town of Parkersburg, Iowa. Eight people have died, and 70 were injured. Here is a PDF containing incredible pictures of the damage (taken by employees of the NWS during their survey). [more inside]