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Christopher John Pincock
Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN 47907-2040)

Summer Stipends
Research Programs

$5,000 (approved)
$5,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2005 – 8/31/2005

Grasping El Niño: Philosophy of Mathematics and Science in the 19th and 20th Centuries

This project is a historical study of the early stages of the scientific investigation of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), emphasizing the criteria that were employed to evaluate mathematical models of this complex climactic phenomena. I focus mainly on the pioneering work of Sir J. Norman Lockyer (1836-1920), his son William Lockyer (1868-1934) and Sir Gilbert Walker (1868-1958) in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. While many disparage these early models, I argue that there is considerable overlap between the criteria that the Lockyers and Walker used, and the criteria that we find in the work of contemporary climatologists.