Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Wisdom to count the clouds

One of my favourite biblical meteorological references in Job 38.37 "who has wisdom to count the clouds". After a very lengthy discussion between the three friends, and then a young upstart, God responds to silence Job. Very effectively. The discussion centres around Jewish creational monotheism, which is essentially to summarise "I created everything, I'm God, you're not, shut up". Or something like that.

Clouds are difficult to count, being composed of water and ice. They are whispy, fractal shaped. Use a smaller and smaller ruler to measure their surface area and they keep getting bigger and bigger! And how to count them? Visually? Hard to measure. Using radar - you only see precipitation size droplets. Cloud radar, not the smallest ice crystals. Infrared (as I do)? Which equivalent black body temperature? What mimimum size? How long to track for? Any scientific study of clouds (such as my PhD) is limited by what instrument you use (best to use many as I am attempting to do). You are always throwing away data, either deliberately or otherwise.

Science is about perspective, careful observation, stating your assumptions. Nothing is all inclusive, perfect in understanding or the final word. Only God has that wisdom.

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