The Weather Myth: Lost Women of Science Podcast, Season 2, Bonus Episode

Thu, 02 Jun 2022 07:00:00 GMT
Scientific American - Technology

When we first started researching Klára Dán von Neumann, we thought she was “the computer scientist...

How did this weather myth start? We set out to answer that question, and in the process, we asked this: Why is it so tempting to credit the wrong person, even when that false credit is given with the best of intentions?

This episode zeroes in on the very first weather forecasts done on a computer-and the hand Klári might have played in that.

KATIE HAFNER: When we first started looking into Klári's story, we found article after article calling her the lost figure you should thank for modern-day weather forecasting, so that was intriguing.

KATIE HAFNER: Numerical weather forecasting, the idea of using mathematical models to make weather predictions, had been theorized about at that point, but it didn't really take off in a practical way until 1946.

One of nature's ever changing mysteriesNow recent experiments show thatdata from guided weather rockets, radar observation stations, weather stations, all of this can be fed into the computerall in a matter of minutes.

KATIE HAFNER: In 1950, a team including Klári's husband, Johnny, ran the first numerical weather prediction on the ENIAC, an early electronic computer.

THOMAS HAIGH: All right, so yeah, the weather, the weather simulation.

KATIE HAFNER: Ananyo had come across some references to Klári's work on computerized weather forecasts.

Our season would be about her "Leadership role" in these numerical weather prediction forecasts.

KATIE HAFNER: Coming up, we look at the danger of "The great woman theory of history." I'm Katie Hafner and this is Lost Women of Science.

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