I learned about weather balloons from Mark Rober’s latest YouTube video, “Egg Drop From Space,” and I had no idea the planetary-scale human coordination that goes into tracking the weather. It’s obvious, after the fact, but I still find it remarkable. As per Wikipedia:
Weather balloons are launched around the world for observations used to diagnose current conditions as well as by human forecasters and computer models for weather forecasting. Between 900 and 1,300 locations around the globe do routine releases, two or four times daily, usually at 0000 UTC and 1200 UTC.
Thousands of people, multiple times a day, in synchrony, measuring the weather, with balloons. Benjamin Bratton writes about “planetary-scale computation,” and this is one of the most practical instances of the theory I’ve encountered.