Chapter

Weather in a Public Office

in Predicting the Weather

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2005 | ISBN: 9780226019680
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226019703 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226019703.003.0004
Weather in a Public Office

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This chapter considers the development of meteorology as a model of collective science, partly in response to the disorderly world of popular weather prophecy. This model, establishing a careful hierarchy of observers and leaders, was a critical influence on the Meteorological Department from 1854 to 1867. As an observation network and as a government enterprise, meteorology represented the collective organization of science working in official or semiofficial bodies, interacting with public audiences. All these forms of collective enterprise raised questions about personal responsibility, public interests, and the proper scale of government activity. A public scientific office like the Meteorological Department in particular exposed the sharp split between popular interest in forecasting and the distaste of many men of science for utilitarian goals in science.

Keywords: meteorology; collective science; weather prophecy; collective enterprises; public office; forecasting

Chapter.  18059 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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