Science through the lens
A long time ago in a land far, far away…
The climate suddenly changes. It’s May, and a “Great Fog” appears in the sky. During the day it blocks out the sun and acts like a blanket trapping heat near the ground. A ten-year old boy notices that temperatures spike and sunsets are a spectacular display of colors. He doesn’t know that volcanoes in the “Ring of Fire” are spewing ash into the atmosphere creating massive clouds and causing the strange weather. All he knows is that he can’t take his eyes off the sky. The boy’s name is Luke Howard. The year is 1783, and his location is the English countryside. Luke records his observations in a journal. Although he doesn’t know it yet, he is on his way to becoming the “Father of Meteorology.”
Flash forward twenty years. It’s 1803, and Luke Howard is a successful businessman. But in his spare time, ever since the summer of 1873, he’s been watching the clouds and thinking up new ideas about the weather. He writes and publishes a scientific paper and presents his ideas to a group of fellow amateur scientists. His article, “On the modification of clouds, and on the principles of their production, suspension and destruction,” classifies clouds into groups using Latin words: heaped (cumulus), layered (stratus), fibrous (cirrus), and rain (nimbus). By combining terms into names such as Cirro-cumulus, which he describes as "small, well-defined roundish masses, in close horizontal arrangement," Luke identifies many kinds of clouds.
Luke’s passion for clouds inspires him to make watercolor sketches and write a book called The Climate of London, which introduces new ideas about lightening and the causes of rain. In 1864, Luke Howard dies at the age of ninety-two, leaving behind a cloud naming system that is still used today.
A long time ago in a land far, far away, Luke Howard names the clouds—and in our imagination we see him turning to a friend and saying, “May the clouds be with you.”
To see photos of many kinds of clouds go to NOAA Sky Watcher Chart
Spidermania: Friends on the Web debunks myths about spiders and takes an extremely close look at creatures that have both fascinated and terrified humans. An introduction explains what makes spiders unique. Then ten species are highlighted with incredible electron micro-graph images and surprising facts. From diving bell spiders that live in bubbles underwater, to spitting spiders that shoot sticky streams of spit at their prey, to black widows and wolf spiders, this unusual book will intrigue readers and help cure arachnophobia. For more information, click here.
MLA 8 Citation
Siy, Alexandra. "Luke Skywatcher." Nonfiction Minute, iNK Think Tank, 27 Apr.
Stephen R. Swinburne
The celebrated astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, said, “People never look up.” Tyson or Starman, as he is called, is right. Look up and you’ll see amazing stuff: puffy cumulonimbus clouds rising 60,000 feet, broken rainbows, blue skies bluer than blue, Venus and Mars huddling beside the new moon, the Milky Way.
When you look up, you can’t help realize you are standing, feet firmly planted, on planet Earth. We are attached in a very physical way to this place...this planet called Earth.
So, not only look up, but, as Rachel Carson declared in many of her writings, “Look around, and down, and closer.”
Whether you are looking up or looking down, we celebrate our home planet every year on April 22. This celebration or “birthday” is called Earth Day and it has been going on since 1970 after Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, proposed a day of national focus on environmental issues. Buoyed by the success of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring, about the concern for living organisms and the environment, Earth Day 1970 set out to raise public awareness for the health and harmony of the planet. People from all walks of life— young and old, farmers and urban dwellers, liberals and conservatives— banded together and achieved great things. The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970 led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act.
And now, forty-six years later, Earth Day 2016 has gone truly global. Around the world, people celebrate Earth Day with massive rallies, marches and festivals. But for many people it is not just an annual event, but all the quiet acts and the simple habits performed throughout the year. For instance, I make it a habit of recycling every piece of plastic I use (or as much as humanly possible). Less plastic that ends up in the oceans means happier and healthier sea turtles and whales.
If you want some ideas about how you can demonstrate your support for environmental protection, you might start by checking out the book, Recycle This Book - 100 Top Children’s Book Authors Tell You How To Go Green.
And if you link to the Earth Day website, you can take a peek at all the great activities planned around the world on April 22, 2018.
Let’s make this the best Earth Day ever...all year long!
With essays from renowned children’s book authors such as Ann Brashares, Jeanne DuPrau, Caroline B. Cooney, Laurie Halse Anderson, Bruce Coville, Gennifer Choldenko, and more than 100 others, each piece is an informative and inspiring call to kids of all ages to understand what’s happening to the environment, and to take action in saving our world. Helpful tips and facts are interspersed throughout.
Part of the award-winning Scientists in the Field book series, Sea Turtle Scientist introduces Dr. Kimberly Stewart, “the turtle lady,” and describes her work on St. Kitts with endangered loggerhead sea turtles. The book provides extensive information on sea turtles and Dr. Stewart’s research, as well as the efforts of WIDECAST to preserve and protect these amazing creatures. For more information, visit the author's website.
Stephen R. Swinburne is a member of iNK's Authors on Call and is available for classroom programs through Field Trip Zoom, a terrific technology that requires only a computer, wifi, and a webcam. Click here to find out more.
MLA 8 Citation
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