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Email: pedwards at stanford dot edu

Center for International Security and Cooperation
Freeman Spogli Institute
C226 Encina Hall
616 Serra St
Stanford, CA 94306-6165

Office: 650.725.2707
Fax: 206.337.1523


A Vast Machine is a historical account of climate science as a global knowledge infrastructure. Weather and climate observing systems cover the whole world, making global data. This infrastructure generates information so vast in quantity and so diverse in quality and form that it can be understood only through computer analysis — by making data global. These processes depend on three kinds of computer models: data models, used to combine and adjust measurements from many different sources; simulation models of weather and climate; and reanalysis models, which recreate climate history from historical weather data. A Vast Machine argues that over the years data and models have converged to create a stable, reliable, and trustworthy basis for establishing the reality of global warming.

What reviewers say

"A 2010 Book of the Year" — The Economist

"... a tour de force. A Vast Machine is the most complete and balanced description we have of two sciences whose results and recommendations will, in the years ahead, be ever more intertwined with the decisions of political leaders and the fate of the human species." — Noel Castree, American Scientist [full review]

"A thorough and dispassionate analysis by a historian of science and technology. ...Should be compulsory reading for anyone who now feels empowered to pontificate on how climate science should be done." — Myles Allen, Nature [full review]

"A Vast Machine does an especially good job at recounting details of the historical evolution of [climate] models, without drowning the reader in jargon and, amazingly, without using any mathematics at all. Edwards'... account will be readily accessible to that legendary target, the general reader... [T]he author’s impressive scholarship and command of his material have produced a truly magisterial account." — Richard C.J. Somerville, Science [full review]

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