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A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming (Infrastructures) epub ebook

by Paul N. Edwards

A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming (Infrastructures) epub ebook

Author: Paul N. Edwards
Category: Engineering
Language: English
Publisher: The MIT Press; First Edition (US) First Printing edition (March 12, 2010)
Pages: 552 pages
ISBN: 0262013924
ISBN13: 978-0262013925
Rating: 4.7
Votes: 451
Other formats: mobi rtf lit txt


With this new book, Paul Edwards once again writes the history of technology on a grand scale. The more data collected, and the more data is exchanged, the more important it becomes to normalize data for comparison.

With this new book, Paul Edwards once again writes the history of technology on a grand scale. Through his investigation of computational science, international governance, and scientific knowledge production, he shows that the very ability to conceptualize a global climate as such is wrapped up in the history of these institutions and their technological infrastructure. In telling this story, Edwards again makes an original contribution to a crowded field. Normalization requires some form of data model, a theory that makes the data meaningful.

In A Vast Machine Paul Edwards has news for these skeptics: without models . With this new book, Paul Edwards once again writes the history of technology on a grand scale.

In A Vast Machine Paul Edwards has news for these skeptics: without models, there are no data. Today, no collection of signals or observations-even from satellites, which can see the whole planet with a single instrument-becomes global in time and space without passing through a series of data models. Everything we know about the world's climate we know through models. Paul N. Edwards is Professor in the School of Information and the Department of History at the University of Michigan.

Download Citation On Dec 1, 2012, Gabriele Gramelsberger and others published Paul N. Edwards, A Vast Machine . The Effect of World War II on Meteorology. Part III. The Beginning of the Computer Era in Meteorology. John von Neumanns Meteorology Project

The Effect of World War II on Meteorology. John von Neumanns Meteorology Project. The Acceptance of Numerical Meteorology.

A Vast Machine book . Was hoping to see a little more discussion about computational infrastructure, but it certainly felt like I had a good overview of the history of climatology, the gist is sort of two things: data friction (collecting from many instruments, different instruments, historical changes) and computational friction (complex multidimensional analysis) make it hard to analyze and model large & complex systems like global weather or.

The problem of weather prediction, considered from the viewpoints of mechanics and physics (Translated and reprinted in: Meteorologische Zeitschrift, 18, 2009, 1–5), p. oogle Scholar.

Edwards approaches this from the perspective of science and technology studies, with treatment of philosophical and sociological issues and only incidental biographical material. His approach is roughly chronological, describing the historical development of climate science and the earlier disciplines that constituted it, with a focus on atmospheric circulation and global temperatures

A Vast Machine Computer Models Climate Data and the Politics of Global Warming Infrastructures PDF.

A Vast Machine Computer Models Climate Data and the Politics of Global Warming Infrastructures PDF. fredie.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher. Set in Stone by Toppan Best-set Premedia Limited

This is far and away the best book I have read on the infrastructure behind our knowledge of climate change, how that infrastructure developed, and how the infrastructure shapes our understanding.

Global warming skeptics often fall back on the argument that the scientific case for global warming is all model predictions, nothing but simulation; they warn us that we need to wait for real data, "sound science." In A Vast Machine Paul Edwards has news for these skeptics: without models, there are no data. Today, no collection of signals or observations -- even from satellites, which can "see" the whole planet with a single instrument -- becomes global in time and space without passing through a series of data models. Everything we know about the world's climate we know through models. Edwards offers an engaging and innovative history of how scientists learned to understand the atmosphere -- to measure it, trace its past, and model its future.

Reviews (7)
Araath
A VAST MACHINE is an excellent historical review of meteorology/climatology.However, mathematical treatment of fluid dynamics is very complex. The advent of computers has greatly enhanced weather prediction and analysis, but even today in meteorology five to six days forecasts are at best are only eighty to eighty five percent accurate. Forecasting years ahead, as in climatology are, in my estimation, only educated guesses. We simply don't have a comprehensive enough data base, in climatology, for dependable forecast analysis even with computer models. Although Mr.Edwards presents his case admirably, I am not convinced we are ready to forecast climate with any degree of accuracy now or in the foreseeable future.

Marelyne
Understanding how we know about climate, and even what it means to know about climate and climate change, is essential if we are to have an informed debate. This is far and away the best book I have read on the infrastructure behind our knowledge of climate change, how that infrastructure developed, and how the infrastructure shapes our understanding.

The story begins in the 1600s as systematic collection of weather data began (at least in the modern period, other cultures such as the Chinese have older records and it would be interesting to unearth these, although the data normalization issues would be extreme). It picks up speed in the 19th C with global trade and then the telegraph. The more data collected, and the more data is exchanged, the more important it becomes to normalize data for comparison. Normalization requires some form of data model, a theory that makes the data meaningful. Indeed, this is Edwards point, all data about weather and climate only becomes meaningful in the context of a model (this is of course generally true).

Work accelerated during WW2 and then exploded in the 50s and 60s as computers became more available. The role played by John Von Neumann in this is fascinating, as is the nugget that his second wife Klara Von Neumann taught early weather scientists how to program (there is a whole hidden history of the role of woman in developing computer programming that needs to be written - or if you know of one please add it to the comments of this review or tweet it to me @StevenForth).

Edwards also introduces some useful concepts such as Data Friction and Computational Friction. I think my company can apply these in its own work, so for me this has been a very practical text.

Modern models of climate are complex and are growing more so. They have to be to integrate data from multiple sources. One of the main lines of evidence for climate change is that data from many different sources are converging to suggest that climate change is a real and accelerating phenomena. One can meaningfully ask if this convergence is an artifact of the models, although this appears unlikely given the diversity of the data and models. But Edwards shows that it is idiotic to claim that the data and the models can be meaningfully separated. This is true in all science and not just climate science. A theory is a model to normalize and integrate data and to uncover and make meaningful relations between disparate data. That these models are now expressed numerically in computations, rather than as differential equations or sentences in a human language or drawings is one of the major shifts of the information age. It will be interesting to dig deeper into the formal relations between these diffferent modeling languages.

Visonima
"Probably the best overview book about the workings of meteorology and climatology, this book also serves as a refresher course for people in the business. As a "seasoned" climatologist, reading this book was like visiting an old friend, and meeting all the children and descendants.

His book, as he puts it, presents "an historical account of climate science as a global knowledge infrastructure". As such, it's a must read for anyone new to climatology as it give not only a useful history of the development of the systems we rely upon (WMO, WWW, GCOS, WCRP, IPCC, etc) but also puts to to rest some past controversies (myth of cooling, the MSU errors, bias removal in GHCN). I was impressed by Edwards' use of recent papers by Peterson, Karl, Easterling, well blended with older works references by Smagarenski, Sagen, Manabe. And of course his good friend, the late Schneider is there throughout.

Edwards makes the point that it is through models that we revamp our knowledge about climate, whether these are simulation models based on physical theory, reanalysis models that blend observations with forecast simulations into uniform global data, or data analysis models that produce coherent data from heterogeneous, time-varying information. Climate knowledge works like historians work; there is always more to learn about the past.

The book suffered a bit, I think, from not using Zillman's excellent (and short!) history of climate progress (though I might have missed it in the 67 pages of references! A time line of the decades of progress in understanding climate change, from GARP, Villach, Espoo, Rio, etc. would have helped.

I especially enjoyed the description of reanalysis (chapter 12), the summary of pre-19th century observations, and best of all, the Greek derivation of climate - klima - from "inclination" - the slant of the suns rays with latitude with the tilt of the earth. Best of all, I see that Edwards has a degree in "Science, Technology, and Society" - exactly the course of study my son is following - along with an engineering degree. If Edwards' book is any guide, this is certainly what we need more of.

I'd be remiss if I didn't add that Edwards includes useful, dispassionate, historical references to S. Fred Singer's questionable work in fighting the science of climate change, acid raid, and the ozone hole! Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose".
A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming

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