The Weather Machine: A Journey Inside the Forecast (Paperback)
From the acclaimed author of Tubes, a lively and surprising tour of the infrastructure behind the weather forecast, the people who built it, and what it reveals about our climate and our planet
The weather is the foundation of our daily lives. It’s a staple of small talk, the app on our smartphones, and often the first thing we check each morning. Yet behind these quotidian interactions is one of the most expansive machines human beings have ever constructed—a triumph of science, technology and global cooperation. But what is this ‘weather machine’ and who created it?
In The Weather Machine, Andrew Blum takes readers on a fascinating journey through an everyday miracle. In a quest to understand how the forecast works, he visits old weather stations and watches new satellites blast off. He follows the dogged efforts of scientists to create a supercomputer model of the atmosphere and traces the surprising history of the algorithms that power their work. He discovers that we have quietly entered a golden age of meteorology—our tools allow us to predict weather more accurately than ever, and yet we haven’t learned to trust them, nor can we guarantee the fragile international alliances that allow our modern weather machine to exist.
Written with the sharp wit and infectious curiosity Andrew Blum is known for, The Weather Machine pulls back the curtain on a universal part of our everyday lives, illuminating our relationships with technology, the planet, and the global community.
About the Author
Andrew Blum is a journalist and the author of Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet, the first book-length look at the physical infrastructure of the Internet. Tubes has been translated into ten languages, and has become a crucial reference for journalists, politicians, and entrepreneurs eager to understand how the Internet works. Blum’s writing about architecture, design, technology, urbanism, art, and travel has appeared in numerous publications, including Wired, Popular Science, Vanity Fair, and the New York Times.
“[A] vivid account of the history and evolution of the modern daily forecast . . . [Blum] is a sharp analyst and engaging guide, adept at translating difficult concepts in meteorology and computer science for the uninitiated.”
— The Economist
“Andrew Blum’s new book, The Weather Machine, asks us to pause and marvel at the globe-spanning networks of collaboration required to turn the weather from something we experience to something we can predict.”
— The New Yorker
“[Blum] takes a dive into the forecasts of today and how they’ve advanced from a dream espoused nearly 180 years ago ... Totally fascinating to anyone with even a passing interest in weather or technology, and it lays the groundwork for really appreciating just how good we have it today.”
“Blum’s study of what goes into predicting the weather is all the more interesting because it goes beyond the science to remind us that forecasts are the impressive result of painstaking international co-operation.”
— The Times (London)
“Blum does an excellent job of describing how meteorological theory and observation were first stitched together, and why even today their relationship is a stormy one ... [he] fancies his chances at explaining human-built hyperobjects in solid, clear language, without recourse to metaphor and poesy ... Impressive.”
— Telegraph (UK)
“With infectious curiosity and spirit, The Weather Machine is an engaging foray into the ingenuity that built the modern science of weather prediction.”
— Shelf Awareness
“This fascinating book reveals the existence and origins of surely one of our species’ greatest creations, and Andrew Blum is the perfect writer to share both the remarkable human stories and the astonishing technical wizardry behind it all.”
— Mark Vanhoenacker, bestselling author of Skyfaring: A Journey with a Pilot
“Andrew Blum is a master of revealing the hidden systems behind technologies we take for granted. In the “The Weather Machine,” he takes on the daily forecast, and the result is deeply researched, tightly written, compulsively readable, and totally fascinating.”
— Seth Fletcher, author of Einstein’s Shadow: A Black Hole, a Band of Astronomers, and the Quest to See the Unseeable
“Exhilarating … A hurricane-force tour of one of the most astonishing but under-appreciated facets of the modern world”
— Lewis Dartnell, author of Origins
“Sharp, stylish and often surprising. In this absorbing book Andrew Blum tracks the development, from wild dream to astonishing reality, of the quietly revolutionary technology that shapes our everyday lives.”
— Peter Moore, author of The Weather Experiment
“Clear and entertaining ... A highly readable and accessible entry into the world of meteorology; of interest to everyone who is affected by weather.”
— Library Journal (starred review)
“Thanks to Blum’s immersive research, readers will come away with a greater appreciation for the hard work that goes into something often taken for granted.”
— Publishers Weekly
“A bright look at weather forecasting ... A solid popular account with plenty of quirky detail about this ‘new way of seeing into the future.’”
— Kirkus Reviews
“A lucid and approachable guide to the satellites, scientists, and supercomputers that make up the forecasting system we so often take for granted.”