Looking very sciency and totally credible, this meteorological marvel has been the mainstay of weather profits…sorry, ‘prophets’…for centuries.
It’s actually a load of toss, but ever since a salty old sailor named Robert FitzRoy used one to sail…somewhere. We forget where. Anyhow, Fitz convinced the British government these things were so good at predicting the weather that the gummint, seemingly no smarter than it is today, distributed FitzRoy’s Storm Barometers to fishing villages all over the Brutish Isles.
Maybe that’s why so many fishermen drowned. The Bureau Of Statistics didn’t see fit to make that information available.
While it’s crap as a weather predictor, it’s obviously excellent for telling how gullible some people are, and is thus very handy for assessing the IQ of a new apprentice. If they’ll believe the weather-predicting spiel they’re a copperbottomed certainty to provide a harmless laugh if sent looking for a left-handed shovel or a bucket of striped paint.
Aside from all that, these things do make a great decoration. The liquid inside – about 40 cents-worth of common household chemicals – does all kinds of wild-looking things. It goes cloudy, forms spooky crystals, dumps snowflakes on the glass bottom, and even supposedly forms ‘stars’.
Grab one from an Australian Geographic store for around $70.