Rejected by JAMA in October 2012

To the Editor:

Art succeeds only when different people see different things in the same artwork.

Thus, in Clarence Carter’s striking “Port Huron” painting Dr. Torpy sees “abstractly designed clouds” of ovoid shape and uncertain genesis that raise questions about death, infinity, and consciousness (1).

Meteorologists, however, will see clouds of the uncommon “mamma” type, as found on the underside of an unstable “anvil” cloud. The ovoid, down-hanging shape inherent in their name arises from powerful downdrafts that have reached the base of the anvil. Supercell storms frequently display such features (2), which can serve as a warning to aviators. The internet has many photographs of mamma clouds (3).

(1) Torpy JM. The cover. JAMA. 2012; 308: 744.

(2) Wilcox EM. Clouds. London: Duncan Baird Publishers, 2008. Pages 41-43, 160.


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