In Lord of the Rings, Bilbo riddles Gollum: “Voiceless it cries, wingless flutters, toothless bites, mouthless mutters.” The answer? Wind. Here are some other facts you likely didn’t know about wind, the invisible demon.
11 Unusual Facts About Wind
Our Windy World (and Others)
- Believe it or not, the sun causes wind. As warm air rises, cool air rushes in to replace it. The larger the temperature difference, the stronger the wind.
- The highest wind on earth was 253 mph, recorded during Typhoon Olivia in 1996 on Barrow Island, Australia.
- Saturn boasts the strongest winds in our solar system. Breezes blow up to 1,100 miles-per-hour on the ringed planet.
Harnessing the Wind
- Mesopotamians hoisted the first sail 5,000 years ago. Persian farmers first began using windmills to grind grain and pump water in 500 A.D. The first house powered by wind-generated electricity was hooked up in 1887 in Kincardineshire, Scotland.
- Use an anemometer to measure the wind. The instrument gets its name from the Anemoi—four Greek gods who kicked up wind from each point of the compass.
- The largest wind turbine is over 200 feet tall and its rotors stretch the length of a football field. The giant windmills are being installed all over the world.
Wind in Human Culture
- Chicago isn’t called Windy City because of gales blowing off Lake Michigan. In the late 1870s, newspaper editor Charles Dana wrote an editorial calling Chicago windy because he thought its politicians were full of hot air.
- The ‘70s fusion group Earth, Wind and Fire, got its name from founder Maurice White’s astrological chart. Earth, wind and fire are his primary elements. Before changing their name, the band was known as The Salty Peppers.
- The bestselling book The Perfect Storm, by Sebastian Junger, recounts the true story of three simultaneous wind events converging off the coast of Newfoundland in 1991. The book profiles the doomed fishing trawler Andrea Gail and her crew, who were caught in the middle of the storm and lost at sea.
- The hit song, Dust in the Wind, by rock mega-group Kansas is based on a Bible passage, “I reflected on everything that is accomplished by man on earth, and I concluded: Everything he has accomplished is futile—like chasing the wind!”
- To celebrate the 80th anniversary of the blockbuster, Gone with the Wind, you can fish with the Big Game Scarlett O’Hara streamer fly, the fur and feathers are bright red.
The highest wind on earth was 253 mph, recorded during Typhoon Olivia in 1996 on Barrow Island, Australia. | Feature photo: Magda Ehlers/Pexels