Predictor Leeches

Predictor Leeches


Victorians once used leeches to predict the weather.


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George Merryweather was a Victorian doctor and a fan of poetry. In fact, it was in a poem that he found the inspiration to build the Tempest Prognosticator, a kind of barometer powered by leeches. Because Merryweather, perhaps living up to his name, saw a greater potential in leeches as storm forecasters.

The three-foot-tall contraption was as beautiful as it was intended to be useful. The brass and mahogany structure held 12 glass vials in place, each of which contained a single leech. If it was going to rain soon, the leeches would slither to the top of the vial.

By the end of his project, Merryweather had grown so attached to his leeches, he swore that they had befriended him. Unfortunately, only a few of them were actually successful at predicting the weather. Others, he wrote, were "absolutely stupid."


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