Daily Video: I’m a Climate Scientist & Large Hadron Rap

The rap video seems to be the genre of choice for proponents of social change.  It’s the perfect medium for telling truth to power, a prime example being the Andrew Lansley Rap.

Here are some real climate scientists getting it off their chests.

And here’s an old favourite about the Large Hadron Collider.

Happy Winter Solstice

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Robert Frost (1923)

Cloud Appreciation Society

I wrote about the  Cloud Appreciation Society almost a year ago, in connection with discovery of a new cloud, Asperatus. At the time, I said I would join. Alas, only now have I sent in the ₤4.61 to receive my membership certificate and a badge with fluffy white clouds against a blue sky.

Anyone who goes round with their head in the clouds (perhaps, like me, sometimes falling over your own feet) should visit this website. It’s like coming home to family after a long exile spent among strangers who don’t understand you. There are cloud photos, poetry, music, and a forum in which to explore and exchange aerial passions and photos.

I also borrowed The Cloudspotter’s Guide , by Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society. It’s a lovely book, combining science with mythology, poetry, anecdotes, pop culture references, and frankly surreal thought experiments, all suffused with a charming, slightly eccentric quality that I think of as essentially British.

Each chapter deals with a particular genus of cloud, beginning with the archetypal cumulus, staple feature of every child’s drawing, weaving in all the above elements to leave you with a satisfying sense of actually having learned something, and having enjoyed yourself immensely in the process.

For example, in the chapter on nimbostratus, Pretor-Pinney plays a riff on Frankie Lymon, of Why Do Fools Fall In Love fame, imagining himself backstage explaining exactly “why does the rain fall from up above.” Terrific stuff. I haven’t finished it yet, but I think I might buy my own copy once this is returned to the library.

Of course, I’ve been taking cloud photos with an eye to submitting some for the photo gallery. Harder than it looks. The photo at the top of the page was taken on May 28 in the Gulf of Corryvreckan, a whirlpool between the northern tip of Jura and Scarba, while on a paddle steamer cruise from Campbeltown to Oban.

Head in the Clouds

Gavin Pretor-Pinney of the wonderfully named Cloud Appreciation Society has discovered what he thinks is a new cloud to join the familiar cumulus, stratus, cirrus, and nimbus family.

Asperatus, from the Latin “roughened up” may be the first new cloud classification since 1951. Here’s a picture gallery showing asperatus at work and play.

I really like this cloud, though I don’t recall ever seeing one. And it’s not as if I don’t spend a lot of time with my head in the clouds. The Cloud Appreciation Society website offers everything from a Manifesto, through a splendid photo gallery, to members’ art and poetry.

I plan to join. Sounds like they’re right up my street.