Natural phenomena – the wind, rain and stars – have been a source of wonder since the beginning of history. Our diverse cultures continue to study them with a mixture of awe and logic. There have been practical considerations, such as the need to know the best time to plant crops and to move animals. But there is also an intellectual challenge. We seek to gain psychological control over natural phenomena by bringing them within our intellectual framework. The Science Museum has a superb collection of scientific instruments, including telescopes, weather gauges and mathematical tools. The beauty of mathematics is reflected in the sinuous shapes of the Klein bottle, for example. This search for understanding is not limited to professional scientists. There are many amateur astronomers, encouraged by books, magazines and programmes such as The Sky at Night. While some people enjoy the intellectual pleasure of studying mathematics, most of us hate doing it, but we all use it in our everyday lives. We all like to guess what the weather is going to be, and we poke fun at professional meteorologists when they get it wrong. Can anyone really predict the weather?