8 illuminating facts about clouds

Originally posted on TED Blog:

The vivid mother-of-pearl cloud is one of the most breathtaking spectacles in our sky. Photo: Flickr/Alan R. Light

The Cloud Appreciation Society may be the first official organization to celebrate the beauty of clouds, but these fluffy pillows in the sky have been a source of fascination since 3,000 B.C., when they were first discussed in the Upanishads. Aristotle poetically described cloud formation in his 350 B.C. work Meteorology as the process by which “the finest and sweetest water is every day carried up and is dissolved into vapor and rises to the upper region, where it is condensed again by the cold and so returns to the earth.” Clouds have been the subject of Georgia O’Keefe paintings and are the namesake of Joni Mitchell’s second album.

But the gorgeous cotton balls drifting 60,000 feet above our heads are more than atmospheric decoration that inspire great works of art and…

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