Thursday 24 May 2012

Defining the Wind

Finished May 20
Defining the Wind by Scott Huler

Huler was fascinated when he encountered the Beaufort Scale in his dictionary, finding the terminology poetic and wanting to learn more. (The book cover is actually an image of that dictionary page.) So he went searching for Beaufort, wanting to know more about the man behind the scale and what inspired him.
But he also looked into the wind directly, travelling on a sailing ship, visiting a wind tunnel, and looking into meteorological history. He found out a lot about Beaufort and his influence on both wind measurement and modern nautical procedures. Since Beaufort kept extensive diaries, there is a lot of personal as well as professional information known about the man. He also shows us the development of wind measurement, with discussion on all the different measurements before and after the Beaufort Scale, discovering that the Scale itself has changed over time.
The chapter that I enjoyed the most was Chapter 8 A Picture of the Wind: Poetry, the Shipping Forecast, and the Search for the North Shields Observer. I think I enjoyed this one because of its literary and cultural focus and its taking the reader back to what drew Huler to do this research in the first place, the language used in the dictionary version of the Scale. He introduces us here to more interpretations of the Scale, through picture books, art, and music that add to its draw. He also completes the search for the man who wrote the words used, the North Shields Observer.
Well worth reading, this book both educated and entertained, and now I'm waiting for my music CD containing the Beaufort Scale to arrive!

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