First Measurement of Wind Speed ─ Enter the Anemometer

March 20, 2013 in Trivia

An AnemometerWind speed is measured by a device called an anemometer, which comes from the Greek word for wind “anemos”. Italian art architect, mathematician and renaissance man Leon Battista Alberti invented the first mechanical anemometer in 1450. His instrument consisted of a disk placed perpendicular to the wind. It would rotate by the force of the wind and by the angle of inclination of the disk. Also in 1450 the unfinished Malatesta temple (Tempio Malatestiano) was the first building that Battista designed and attempted to construct based on his architectural principals.

Battista was known for his dedication to “architectural principles”, notably the importance of painting as a base for architecture. He was an intellectual and famous as an accomplished cryptographer and writer. He was employed by Pope Nicholas V in the restoration of the Papal Palace and of the restoration of the Roman aqueduct of Acqua Vergine.

Leonardo da Vinci innovated the anemometer in his fascination with air-flight possibilities. He sketched variations on Batista’s existing designs ─ probably between 1483 and 1486 ─ to make it easier to measure wind force and to give people insight into the direction of the wind before attempting flight. Englishman Robert Hooke re-invented the anemometer in 1664 and often is mistakenly credited as its first inventor. In 1846, Irish researcher John Thomas Romney Robinson invented the  hemispherical cup anemometer which is still used today.

Geologist Dr. Andreas Pflitsch invented a sonic anemometer  in 1994. A sonic anemometer determines instantaneous wind speed and direction, or turbulence, by measuring the degree to which sound waves traveling between a pair of transducers are sped up or slowed down by the effect of the wind. Hot-wire anemometers and laser Doppler anemometers are among the variety of instruments used today to measure wind using different technologies.