Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 85.djvu/296

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292
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

THE PARADOX OF THE EAST WIND
By Professor ALEXANDER McADIE
BLUB HILL METEOROLOGICAL OBSERVATORY

ABOUT ten miles south of Boston, on the highest land within sight of the sea from Maine to Florida, is a well-known meteorological observatory, founded some thirty years ago by a young graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The founder, Lawrence Botch, became in time the pioneer explorer of the upper air, contributing much to our knowledge of air motion at different levels. In collaboration with Teisserenc de Bort, he may be credited with inaugurating the campaign which resulted in the important discovery of the double character of our atmosphere, as shown by the two great divisions of the stratosphere and the troposphere.

A few years before his death, Botch, who was then professor of meteorology at Harvard, remodeled the Blue Hill Observatory and on the walls of the new library placed eight symbolized figures of the winds. These were copies in relief of the winged human figures on the frieze of the not-too-well-known Tower of the Winds, which has stood for twenty-odd centuries at the base of the hill crowned by the Acropolis.

The Greek was a past-master in the art of personifying natural phenomena and these figures of the winds are ornamented, clothed and posed so as to suggest the characteristic feature of the particular direction represented. Boreas, an old friend, representing the north wind, is a determined-looking fellow, warmly clad but active in spite of his many wraps and heavy buskins. He carries a conch shell and has been blowing it. The sculptor meant, of course, to represent the boisterous roaring of the north wind, especially noticeable where the air in its passage comes over some range or group of hills. Of all the winds, Boreas is the noisiest. But it is not so much with Boreas, or his companion on the left and fellow noise-maker, the ruffian Skiron, warder of the northwest winds, that we are concerned, as with the east wind, the hopeful, open-faced Apheliotes. Apheliotes Nov. Ang. is perhaps an unfamiliar phrase yet it is only the classical rendering of a very familiar expression, namely, the east wind of New England. And many speak of the east wind as if it belonged to New England alone, associating this stream of surface air, a very shallow current, as we shall show later, with the coast north of Cape Cod, although it prevails along the entire Atlantic seaboard.