In search of lost weather
Imagine you have a free hour, one wet weekend, so you settle down to a little light reading:
- You might begin with Marcel Proust’s classic À la recherche du temps perdu – with 3,031 pages it would keep you occupied for a while.
- When you’d finished that you could try Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa – a mere 1,534 pages
- And how about Luo Guanzhong’s Romance of the three kingdoms – 2,340 pages,
- Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace – 1,440 pages,
- and finally, relax your mind with David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest – 1,104 pages.
That’s 8,000 pages. If you read them all again the following weekend (to catch the subtleties that escaped you the first time), and then again, and again, and again, and again, and again; you’d still be 6,000 pages short of matching the work we’ve done reading the logbooks of USS Bear.
So congratulations to lollia paolina, gastcra, Hanibal94, DennisO, jil, pommystuart, LarryW, smith7748, tastiger, and every one of the 402 other crew members – on an achievement of epic proportions: From the 20,930 pages of the Bear’s logs (each read 3 times, remember), we’ve recorded 349,015 weather observations, each with several components (wind speed, barometer, air temperature, etc.) making more than 2.9 million data points.
And of course it’s not just weather, those logs also provided 22,957 dates, 6427 longitudes, 2947 people, 189 animals, 19,489 places, and more … 8,872,438 characters in all.
As before, I’ve used the transcriptions to make a movie version. But the sheer size of the achievement causes problems even here: I thought that a maximum movie length of 10,000 seconds was way more than enough, but not for the Bear. So while I sort that out, here’s just the first installment: 1884-1890.