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Physicist and meteorologist Jules Gregory Charney, who taught at MIT from 1956 to 1981 and developed a key understanding of the influence of “long waves” in Earth’s upper atmosphere on the behavior of the entire atmosphere, was born in San Francisco to Yiddish-speaking garment workers, immigrants from Russia, on this date in 1917. From 1948 to 1956, Charney worked with mathematician John von Neumann at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where he developed the use of computers for weather prediction. In 1954, he helped establish a numerical weather prediction unit within the U.S. Weather Bureau. Charney’s research focused on the interactions of atmospheres and oceans, and was instrumental in shaping the modern scientific view of the atmosphere as a global system. The American Metereological Society grants the Jule G. Charney Award in recognition of highly significant atmospheric or oceanic research. “Charney’s doctoral thesis was published in the October 1947 issue of the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Meteorology . . . it took up the entire issue. . . . For the first time, this paper established a believable mechanism for the development and motion of the large-scale disturbances in the atmosphere.”--John D. Cox, Stormwatchers
Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.