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Blowin' in the Wind, Issue #044 Aristotles contributions to meteorology - June 28, 2007
June 28, 2007
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Aristotles contributions to meteorology

The question (what were Aristotles contributions to meteorology ?) comes up from time to time. Who would have thought somebody around 300 BC could have made so many scientific conclusions? Significant ones at that. He wrote this all inclusive document of science and some the ideas contained therein have stood the test of time while others provided the basis for further research. And were eventually replaced.

Meteorologica, his famous work, is quite detailed, and a brief summary of the topics covered will give you a good introduction to Aristotles contributions to meteorology.

Meteorologica contents

It is divided into four books. Book I (its official title) begins with an introduction to this science of things in the sky, now called meteorology. It then gives a basic discussion of matter, the basic elements (earth, air, fire and water), their rankings in elevation and ether (space). It covers celestial objects, shooting stars, comets, and stars. Then we move on to moisture. Rain, clouds, mist, frost, snow, hail, watercourses (rivers etc.), floods and drought.

...and the rest of it

Book II explains the sea, its size and role in the water cycle, and its salt. Then it goes on to wind; why it varies, where it comes from, the meanings behind the wind direction. He then talks about earthquakes, thunder and lightning.

Book III starts with major storms such as typhoons and thunderbolts, and then optical phenomena such as halos, rainbows, sun dogs and such.

Book IV goes into some detail about the roles of heat and humidity in the generation of weather, developmental stages of weather features, and three types of concoction (maturity). It then tells how the presence of absense of moisture lead to hard and soft objects around us. Water and earth can be made solid. Fire and cold interact with objects depending on how much earth and water are contained in the items. It explains how substances can be melted or solidified, and a total of nineteen properties common to all bodies. It defines homoeomerous bodies and touches on chemical interactions between substances. Sort of like modern compounds, solutions and other mixtures.

Meteorologica is not the easiest thing to read, but its impacts were signifcant. After all it remains the greatest of Aristotles contributions to meteorology.

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