Those that have seen the wind – Admiral Beaufort

Those that have seen the wind – Admiral Beaufort

We live in an age where electronics, weather services, and GPS systems inform us of all our meteorological needs. Our temperature, our speed, our heat index, our low and high pressure systems, our wind speeds.

All of these indexes are determined by people with state of the art electronic contrivance.

Step back two hundred years into the age of exploration and colonialism, powers like Great Britain realized that if they were to maintain dominion of the seas they must be assured that their Navies were using similar scientific observations.

To maintain an empire Great Britain knew that being able to project power you needed to quantify the winds that were moving your navies around the world, it was essential.

The person that was singled out to have created the best standardized method was a man by the name of Admiral Beaufort.

Naval Admirals could now explain with exactitude how fast their war ship was traveling (knots) while on a broad reach, in relationship to the precise windspeed.

History has shown that Beaufort was a man of science, mathematics and maritime abilities.

A universal visible means of calculating windspeed was one of his accomplishments. Imagine people, from sailors to scientists trying to quantify the wind using only “tell tails”

Enclosed find below a detailed chart of how he came about qualifying and quantifying those those seemingly invisible windspeed.

These charts were eventually accepted as a rather reliable way of communicating windspeed for all manner of purpose.

With this simple chart Naval Commanders of Great Britain could be aided with this precise scientific information.

Enjoy the simplicity of the BEAUFORT SCALE, it can be found not only on the seas, it can be found in the most advanced industrial cranes that are brimming with the most sophisticated electronic devices.

Stay Tuned (Part two) Admiral Beaufort and his relationship with Charles Darwin and the Lone Genius That Solved the Riddle of Longitude.

How Beaufort-Harrison-Darwin made history together.

To maintain their oceanic superiority Great Britain needed to solve the riddle of “longitude”. Their sailors had come understand how far north or south they were on the ocean with the understanding of latitude.

Longitude was another matter, it seemed to involve volumes of mathematics, sun or moon calculations and sure fire adeptness with a sextant on a sunny day or cloudless moon lite night.

The year was aprox 1836 and the British government realized it’s significance. If sailors missed the island to which they were headed they might run out of food and end up eating their shipmates. !

Great Britain offered a 20,000 pound reward given to anyone that could figure out out the riddle of longitude and the prize would be awarded the the British Astronomical Society. This Society of astronomers and mathematicians were chosen because it was thought that longitude would be determined by precise lunar calculations.

Decades went by and nobody could figure out this difficult calculation except John Harrison. Mr. Harrison was a Watch and Cabinet Maker, alas, he was not part of the scientific community. Decades rolled by as Mr. Harrison demonstrated his way of calculating longitude and each time he proved his theory. His invention was a gimbaled Chronometer with a bi-metal escapement. The society would send ships to far flung places in the Caribbean and his device proved dead on ever time. Still, the society raised the bar of success because they did not want to award it to someone as common as a watch maker and Cabinet maker.

After decades past the Prime Minister caught wind of John Harrison’s invention and plight. With research he realized that the Royal Astronomical Society had been stingy with the nations reward and insisted that this elderly man in his 80’s be given the award.

His chronometers can still be seen at the British Maritime Museum in London/Greenwich 00’o 00’o. The most precise time pieces in the world.

How does this relate to our friend Admiral Beaufort?

The first officially sanctioned British voyage using this new fangled invention of John Harrisons (called a chronometer) was used by Admiral Beaufort. (Beaufort of the Beaufort Sea)

The Admiral was to use it on his voyage of discovery by rounding the entire continent of South America.

During these times it was required that any “voyage of discovery” had to have scientists on board. This include naturalists, artists, ornithologists, geologists and botanists.

Admiral Beaufort was also a practitioner of “Phrenology” a (now) debunked science of studying the bumps on a persons head to determine their mental attributes.

It seems that the naturalist that had been hired to board the ship of discovery was a man by the name of Charles Darwin and Darwin had a bumpy nose, that didn’t sit well with Admiral Beaufort.

Beaufort was over ruled and this bumpy nosed naturalist by the name of Darwin got to go along. As they were headed up western coast of South America they stopped at the Island’s of the Galapagos and the rest is history.

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