July 23, 2018
Old school: U-M in History
(Photo courtesy of The Oakland (California) Tribune)
Albert Porta, a professor of civil engineering at Santa Clara College in California, never pursued the disciplines of astronomy or meteorology. He later temporarily worked at the Santa Clara observatory, and later left to establish his own weather and earthquake forecasting service. Soon, Porta’s weather reports and predictions appeared in newspapers across the country, and he believed that in December 1919, meteorological doom would occur. But University of Michigan astronomy professor William J. Hussey told reporters the theory was inaccurate and that he had no idea what training Porta had undertaken. Ironically, the media soon lumped Porta into the U-M faculty and he became known as a professor at the university. It was The Michigan Daily that became the first news outlet to question Porta’s qualifications. The meteorological disaster Porta predicted never came true.