How two pioneers took the tropics' pulse

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Science  02 Oct 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6256, pp. 25
DOI: 10.1126/science.350.6256.25

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Had it been a few years later, Madden-Julian oscillation (MJO), a system of storm clouds moving eastward around the Earth, would have been discovered easily by satellites peering down. But as it was, the discovery of the MJO in 1971 required one of the most powerful punch card computers of its era and the keen insight of two young scientists, Roland Madden and Paul Julian. Using a recently developed technique called the fast Fourier transform, they pried apart one of the longest-running data sets in the Pacific—weather data from Kanton Island, near the equator—to discover the pulsing rhythm of Earth's biggest single driver of tropical weather.