“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Hamlet


The Amateur Cloud Society That (Sort
Of) Rattled the Scientific Community

An improbable tale of how a British maverick harnessed crowd sourced
meteorological discoveries to reveal the poetic wonders of the sky.

…A cloud is only water, but arranged like no other water on earth. Billions of minuscule droplets are packed into every cubic foot of cloud, throwing reflected light off their disordered surfaces in all directions, collectively making the cloud opaque. In a way, each cloud is an illusion, a conspiracy of liquid masquerading as a floating, solid object.

But for most of human history, what a cloud was, physically, hardly mattered; instead, we understood clouds as psychic refuges from the mundane, grist for our imaginations, feelings fodder. Clouds both influenced our emotions and hung above us like washed-out mirrors, reflecting them. The English painter John Constable called the sky the “chief organ of sentiment” in his landscapes. And our instinct, as children, to recognize shapes in the clouds is arguably one early spark of all the higher forms of creative thinking that make us human and make us fun. Frankly, a person too dull to look up at the sky and see a parade of tortoises or a huge pair of mittens or a ghost holding a samurai sword is not a person worth lying in a meadow with. In “Hamlet,” Polonius’s despicable spinelessness is never clearer than when Hamlet gets him to enthusiastically agree that a particular cloud looks like a camel, then not a camel at all, but a weasel. Then, not a weasel but a whale. Polonius will see whatever Hamlet wants him to; he is a man completely without his own vision…

The Cloud Appreciation Society


  1. aubrey

    Our imaginations simply will not allow us to look on a cloud unmoved. It just occurred to me that clouds that have the colors of the sunset filtering through them look like they’ve just been eating candy.

    Don’t question Aubrey. This is just what she thinks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: