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Shall we take an umbrella… or evacuate the city? The Weather Machine is about a miraculous-but-overlooked invention that helps us through our daily lives – and sometimes saves them – by allowing us to see into the future.
When Superstorm Sandy hit North America, weather scientists had predicted its arrival a full eight days beforehand, saving countless lives and astonishing us with their capability. Their skill is unprecedented in human history and draws on nearly every major invention of the last two centuries: Newtonian physics, telecommunications, spaceflight and super-computing.
In this gripping investigation, Andrew Blum takes us on a global journey to explain this awe-inspiring feat – from satellites circling the Earth, to weather stations far out in the ocean, through some of the most ingenious minds and advanced algorithms at work today. Our destination: the simulated models they have constructed of our planet, which spin faster than time, turning chaos into prediction, offering glimpses of our future with eery precision.
This collaborative invention spans the Earth and relies on continuous co-operation between all nations – a triumph of human ingenuity and diplomacy we too often shrug off as a tool for choosing the right footwear each morning. But in this new era of extreme weather, we may come to rely on its maintenance and survival for our own.
Andrew Blum is the author of Tubes: Behind the Scenes at the Internet, described as 'utterly engrossing [...] the year's most stimulating and original travel book' (Independent) and a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week. He writes about infrastructure, architecture, design, technology, urbanism, art, and travel. Since 1999, his articles and essays have appeared in Wired, Popular Science, Metropolis, Vanity Fair, The New York Times, New Yorker and many more publications. He has degrees in literature from Amherst College and in human geography from the University of Toronto, and lives in his native New York City.