PERSONAL: Female. Education: McGill University, B.A. (with honors); University of Massachusetts, Amherst, M.A.; Northwestern University, Ph.D., 1994.
ADDRESSES: Office—303 Bethune College, York University, 4700 Keele St., Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, associate professor in the science and society program.
AWARDS, HONORS: Faculty of Arts fellowship, York University, 2000–01; Massey College fellowship, 2005–06.
(Contributor) Nineteenth Century Psychological Thought: The Transition from Philosophy to Science, American Psychological Association (Washington, DC), 2001.
(Contributor) Culture and Science in the Nineteenth Century Media, Ashgate (London, England), 2004.
Predicting the Weather: Victorians and the Science of Meteorology, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 2005.
Contributor to scholarly journals, including the British Journal for the History of Science and History of Science.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Research in the history of modern science, especially meteorology and oceanography.
SIDELIGHTS: Katharine Anderson is a scholar of the interaction between science and lay society. In her first book, Predicting the Weather: Victorians and the Science of Meteorology, she examines both the development of weather forecasting as a science during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and the public's reaction to the new, scientifically based but still frequently inaccurate weather predictions. As Anderson shows early in the book, both technological advances and social circumstances led to the founding of the British national weather service in 1854. The invention of the telegraph made it feasible to collect weather reports from all across the country and to send out predictions in a timely manner, but the fact that the British economy was so dependent on oceangoing ships was what made accurate weather forecasts such a government priority. The public, too, pressed for better predictions, and, according to Anderson, their demands were so intense that they led the head of the weather office to commit suicide. In addition to telling the story of the British weather service, Anderson also examines the debates sparked by the new science of meteorology, such as the question of how responsible scientists should be for their predictions. "Overall," Mace Bentley concluded in Weatherwise, "this is an excellent book, written in an accessible fashion with many interesting stories surrounding the trials and tribulations of pioneering scientists."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Science News, July 2, 2005, review of Predicting the Weather: Victorians and the Science of Meteorology, p. 15.
Weatherwise, January-February, 2006, Mace Bentley, review of Predicting the Weather, p. 60.
York University Web site, http://www.yorku.ca/ (February 22, 2006), author profile.