Alexander von Humboldt

Alexander von Humboldt

Overview
Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander Freiherr von Humboldt ( September 14, 1769 – May 6, 1859) was a German naturalist and explorer, and the younger brother of the Prussian minister, philosopher and linguist
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

 Wilhelm von Humboldt
Wilhelm von Humboldt
Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Karl Ferdinand Freiherr von Humboldt was a German philosopher, government functionary, diplomat, and founder of Humboldt Universität. He is especially remembered as a linguist who made important contributions to the philosophy of language and to the theory and practice...

 (1767–1835). Humboldt's quantitative work on botanical
Botany
Botany, plant science, or plant biology is a branch of biology that involves the scientific study of plant life. Traditionally, botany also included the study of fungi, algae and viruses...

 geography
Geography
Geography is the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of Earth. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes...

 laid the foundation for the field of biogeography
Biogeography
Biogeography is the study of the distribution of species , organisms, and ecosystems in space and through geological time. Organisms and biological communities vary in a highly regular fashion along geographic gradients of latitude, elevation, isolation and habitat area...

.

Between 1799 and 1804, Humboldt travelled extensively in Latin America, exploring and describing it for the first time in a manner generally considered to be a modern scientific point of view.
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Quotations

Devoted from my earliest youth to the study of nature, feeling with enthusiasm the wild beauties of a country guarded by mountains and shaded by ancient forests, I experienced in my travels, enjoyments which have amply compensated for the privations inseparable from a laborious and often agitated life.

One of the noblest characteristics which distinguish modern civilization from that of remoter times is, that it has enlarged the mass of our conceptions, rendered us more capable of perceiving the connection between the physical and intellectual world, and thrown a more general interest over objects which heretofore occupied only a few scientific men, because those objects were contemplated separately, and from a narrower point of view.

The expression of vanity and self-love becomes less offensive, when it retains something of simplicity and frankness.

Our imagination is struck only by what is great; but the lover of natural philosophy should reflect equally on little things.

In order to ameliorate without commotion new institutions must be made, as it were, to rise out of those which the barbarism of centuries has consecrated. It will one day seem incredible that until the year 1826 there existed no law in the Great Antilles to prevent the sale of young infants and their separation from their parents, or to prohibit the degrading custom of marking the negroes with a hot iron, merely to enable these human cattle to be more easily recognized.

The most powerful influence exercised by the Arabs on general natural physics was that directed to the advances of chemistry; a science for which this race created a new era.(...) Besides making laudatory mention of that which we owe to the natural science of the Arabs in both the terrestrial and celestial spheres, we must likewise allude to their contributions in separate paths of intellectual development to the general mass of mathematical science.

Cosmos, H.G. Bohn, 1860, v2, p.589,595
Encyclopedia
Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander Freiherr von Humboldt ( September 14, 1769 – May 6, 1859) was a German naturalist and explorer, and the younger brother of the Prussian minister, philosopher and linguist
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

 Wilhelm von Humboldt
Wilhelm von Humboldt
Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Karl Ferdinand Freiherr von Humboldt was a German philosopher, government functionary, diplomat, and founder of Humboldt Universität. He is especially remembered as a linguist who made important contributions to the philosophy of language and to the theory and practice...

 (1767–1835). Humboldt's quantitative work on botanical
Botany
Botany, plant science, or plant biology is a branch of biology that involves the scientific study of plant life. Traditionally, botany also included the study of fungi, algae and viruses...

 geography
Geography
Geography is the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of Earth. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes...

 laid the foundation for the field of biogeography
Biogeography
Biogeography is the study of the distribution of species , organisms, and ecosystems in space and through geological time. Organisms and biological communities vary in a highly regular fashion along geographic gradients of latitude, elevation, isolation and habitat area...

.

Between 1799 and 1804, Humboldt travelled extensively in Latin America, exploring and describing it for the first time in a manner generally considered to be a modern scientific point of view. His description of the journey was written up and published in an enormous set of volumes over 21 years. He was one of the first to propose that the lands bordering the Atlantic Ocean were once joined (South America and Africa in particular). Later, his five-volume work, Kosmos (1845), attempted to unify the various branches of scientific knowledge. Humboldt supported and worked with other scientists, including Joseph-Louis Gay-Lussac, Justus von Liebig
Justus von Liebig
Justus von Liebig was a German chemist who made major contributions to agricultural and biological chemistry, and worked on the organization of organic chemistry. As a professor, he devised the modern laboratory-oriented teaching method, and for such innovations, he is regarded as one of the...

, Louis Agassiz
Louis Agassiz
Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz was a Swiss paleontologist, glaciologist, geologist and a prominent innovator in the study of the Earth's natural history. He grew up in Switzerland and became a professor of natural history at University of Neuchâtel...

, Matthew Fontaine Maury
Matthew Fontaine Maury
Matthew Fontaine Maury , United States Navy was an American astronomer, historian, oceanographer, meteorologist, cartographer, author, geologist, and educator....

 and, most notably, Aimé Bonpland
Aimé Bonpland
Aimé Jacques Alexandre Bonpland was a French explorer and botanist.Bonpland's real name was Goujaud, and he was born in La Rochelle, a coastal city in France. After serving as a surgeon in the French army, and studying under J. N...

, with whom he conducted much of his scientific exploration.

Early life and education


Humboldt was born in Berlin in the Margraviate of Brandenburg
Margraviate of Brandenburg
The Margraviate of Brandenburg was a major principality of the Holy Roman Empire from 1157 to 1806. Also known as the March of Brandenburg , it played a pivotal role in the history of Germany and Central Europe....

. His father, Alexander Georg von Humboldt, belonged to a prominent Pomerania
Pomerania
Pomerania is a historical region on the south shore of the Baltic Sea. Divided between Germany and Poland, it stretches roughly from the Recknitz River near Stralsund in the West, via the Oder River delta near Szczecin, to the mouth of the Vistula River near Gdańsk in the East...

n family; a major in the Prussian Army
Prussian Army
The Royal Prussian Army was the army of the Kingdom of Prussia. It was vital to the development of Brandenburg-Prussia as a European power.The Prussian Army had its roots in the meager mercenary forces of Brandenburg during the Thirty Years' War...

, he was rewarded for his services in the Seven Years' War
Seven Years' War
The Seven Years' War was a global military war between 1756 and 1763, involving most of the great powers of the time and affecting Europe, North America, Central America, the West African coast, India, and the Philippines...

 with the post of Royal Chamberlain
Chamberlain (office)
A chamberlain is an officer in charge of managing a household. In many countries there are ceremonial posts associated with the household of the sovereign....

. He married the daughter of the Prussian general adjutant, von Schweder. In 1766, he married Maria Elizabeth Colomb, the widow of Baron von Hollwede, and they had two sons. The money of Baron von Holwede, left to his former wife, was instrumental in funding Alexander's explorations, contributing more than 70% of Alexander's income.

Due to his juvenile penchant for collecting and labelling plants, shells and insects, Alexander received the playful title of "the little apothecary". His father died in 1779, after which his mother saw to his education. Marked for a political career, he studied finance
Finance
"Finance" is often defined simply as the management of money or “funds” management Modern finance, however, is a family of business activity that includes the origination, marketing, and management of cash and money surrogates through a variety of capital accounts, instruments, and markets created...

 for six months at the University of Frankfurt (Oder); a year later, on April 25, 1789, he matriculated at Göttingen, then known for the lectures of C. G. Heyne and J. F. Blumenbach
Johann Friedrich Blumenbach
Johann Friedrich Blumenbach was a German physician, physiologist and anthropologist, one of the first to explore the study of mankind as an aspect of natural history, whose teachings in comparative anatomy were applied to classification of what he called human races, of which he determined...

. His vast and varied interests were by this time fully developed, and during a vacation in 1789, he made a scientific excursion up the Rhine and produced the treatise Mineralogische Beobachtungen über einige Basalte am Rhein (Brunswick, 1790) (Mineralogic Observations on Several Basalts on the River Rhine).

Humboldt's passion for travel was confirmed by a friendship formed at Göttingen with Georg Forster
Georg Forster
Johann Georg Adam Forster was a German naturalist, ethnologist, travel writer, journalist, and revolutionary. At an early age, he accompanied his father on several scientific expeditions, including James Cook's second voyage to the Pacific...

, Heyne's son-in-law and the companion of Captain James Cook
James Cook
Captain James Cook, FRS, RN was a British explorer, navigator and cartographer who ultimately rose to the rank of captain in the Royal Navy...

 on Cook's second voyage. Thereafter, his talents were devoted to the purpose of preparing himself as a scientific explorer. With this emphasis, he studied commerce and foreign languages at Hamburg, geology at Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg
Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg
The Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg is a small German University of Technology with about 5000 students in the city of Freiberg, Saxony...

 under A. G. Werner
Abraham Gottlob Werner
Abraham Gottlob Werner , was a German geologist who set out an early theory about the stratification of the Earth's crust and coined the word Neptunism...

, anatomy at Jena
Jena
Jena is a university city in central Germany on the river Saale. It has a population of approx. 103,000 and is the second largest city in the federal state of Thuringia, after Erfurt.-History:Jena was first mentioned in an 1182 document...

 under J. C. Loder
Justus Christian Loder
Justus Ferdinand Christian Loder was a German anatomist and surgeon who was a native of Riga.In 1777 Loder earned his medical doctorate at the University of Göttingen, and the following year was appointed professor of surgery and anatomy at the University of Jena, where he would practice medicine...

 and astronomy and the use of scientific instruments under F. X. von Zach and J. G. Köhler
Johann Gottfried Koehler
Johann Gottfried Koehler was a German astronomer who discovered a number of nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies....

. His researches into the vegetation of the mines of Freiberg
Freiberg, Saxony
Freiberg is a city in the Free State of Saxony, Germany, administrative center of the Mittelsachsen district.-History:The city was founded in 1186, and has been a center of the mining industry in the Ore Mountains for centuries...

 led to the publication, in 1793, of his Florae Fribergensis Specimen. Long experimentation on muscular irritability, then recently discovered by Luigi Galvani
Luigi Galvani
Luigi Aloisio Galvani was an Italian physician and physicist who lived and died in Bologna. In 1791, he discovered that the muscles of dead frogs legs twitched when struck by a spark...

, were contained in his Versuche über die gereizte Muskel- und Nervenfaser (Berlin, 1797) (Experiments on the Frayed Muscle and Nerve Fibres), enriched in the French translation with notes by Blumenbach.


Travels and work in Europe


In 1794 Humboldt was admitted to the famous Weimar
Weimar
Weimar is a city in Germany famous for its cultural heritage. It is located in the federal state of Thuringia , north of the Thüringer Wald, east of Erfurt, and southwest of Halle and Leipzig. Its current population is approximately 65,000. The oldest record of the city dates from the year 899...

 coterie and contributed (June 7, 1795) to Schiller
Friedrich Schiller
Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller was a German poet, philosopher, historian, and playwright. During the last seventeen years of his life , Schiller struck up a productive, if complicated, friendship with already famous and influential Johann Wolfgang von Goethe...

's new periodical, Die Horen, a philosophical allegory
Allegory
Allegory is a demonstrative form of representation explaining meaning other than the words that are spoken. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation...

 entitled Die Lebenskraft, oder der rhodische Genius. In the summer of 1790 he paid a short visit to England in the company of Forster. In 1792 and 1797 he was in Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

; in 1795 he made a geological and botanical tour through Switzerland and Italy. He had obtained in the meantime official employment by appointment as assessor of mines at Berlin, February 29, 1792. Although this service to the state was regarded by him as only an apprenticeship to the service of science, he fulfilled its duties with such conspicuous ability that not only did he rise rapidly to the highest post in his department, but he was also entrusted with several important diplomatic missions. The death of his mother, on November 19, 1796, set him free to follow the bent of his genius, and severing his official connections, he waited for an opportunity to fulfil his long-cherished dream of travel.

Latin American expedition


On the postponement of Captain Nicolas Baudin
Nicolas Baudin
Nicolas-Thomas Baudin was a French explorer, cartographer, naturalist and hydrographer.Baudin was born a commoner in Saint-Martin-de-Ré on the Île de Ré. At the age of fifteen he joined the merchant navy, and at twenty joined the French East India Company...

's proposed voyage of circumnavigation
Circumnavigation
Circumnavigation – literally, "navigation of a circumference" – refers to travelling all the way around an island, a continent, or the entire planet Earth.- Global circumnavigation :...

, which he had been officially invited to accompany, Humboldt left Paris for Marseille
Marseille
Marseille , known in antiquity as Massalia , is the second largest city in France, after Paris, with a population of 852,395 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Marseille extends beyond the city limits with a population of over 1,420,000 on an area of...

 with Aimé Bonpland
Aimé Bonpland
Aimé Jacques Alexandre Bonpland was a French explorer and botanist.Bonpland's real name was Goujaud, and he was born in La Rochelle, a coastal city in France. After serving as a surgeon in the French army, and studying under J. N...

, the designated botanist of the frustrated expedition, hoping to join Napoleon Bonaparte
Napoleon I of France
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

 in Egypt. Means of transport, however, were not forthcoming, and the two travellers eventually found their way to Madrid
Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

, where the unexpected patronage of the minister Don Mariano Luis de Urquijo
Mariano Luis de Urquijo
Mariano Luis de Urquijo y Muga , . Secretary of State of Spain from 12 February 1799 to 13 December 1799, during the reign of King Carlos IV of Spain, and between 7 July 1808 and 27 June 1813 under the King Joseph Bonaparte.-Biography:Born to a low nobility Basque family, he studied law in Madrid...

 convinced them to make Spanish America the scene of their explorations.

Armed with powerful recommendations from the King of Spain, they sailed in the Pizarro from A Coruña
A Coruña
A Coruña or La Coruña is a city and municipality of Galicia, Spain. It is the second-largest city in the autonomous community and seventeenth overall in the country...

, on June 5, 1799, stopped six days on the island of Tenerife
Tenerife
Tenerife is the largest and most populous island of the seven Canary Islands, it is also the most populated island of Spain, with a land area of 2,034.38 km² and 906,854 inhabitants, 43% of the total population of the Canary Islands. About five million tourists visit Tenerife each year, the...

 to climb Mount Teide
Teide
Mount Teide , is a volcano on Tenerife, Canary Islands. Its summit is the highest point in Spain, the highest point above sea level in the islands of the Atlantic, and it is the third highest volcano in the world measured from its base on the ocean floor, after Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea located in...

, and landed at Cumaná
Cumaná
Cumaná is the capital of Venezuela's Sucre State. It is located 402 km east of Caracas. It was the first settlement founded by Europeans in the mainland America, in 1501 by Franciscan friars, but due to successful attacks by the indigenous people, it had to be refounded several times...

, Venezuela, on July 16. Humboldt visited the mission at Caripe
Caripe
Caripe is a town in Caripe Municipality in the mountainous north of the state of Monagas in eastern Venezuela.The soil of the Caripe Valley is very fertile, and the climate of the area is exceptionally pleasant, a result of its altitude , latitude , and proximity to the Caribbean Sea...

, where he found the oil-bird
Oilbird
The Oilbird , also known as Guácharo, is a bird found in the northern areas of South America . They are nocturnal feeders on the fruits of the Oil Palm and tropical laurels, and are the only nocturnal fruit eating birds in the world...

, which he was to make known to science as Steatornis caripensis. Returning to Cumaná, Humboldt observed, on the night of November 11–12, a remarkable meteor shower
Meteor shower
A meteor shower is a celestial event in which a number of meteors are observed to radiate from one point in the night sky. These meteors are caused by streams of cosmic debris called meteoroids entering Earth's atmosphere at extremely high speeds on parallel trajectories. Most meteors are smaller...

 (the Leonids
Leonids
The Leonids is a prolific meteor shower associated with the comet Tempel-Tuttle. The Leonids get their name from the location of their radiant in the constellation Leo: the meteors appear to radiate from that point in the sky. They tend to peak in November.Earth moves through the meteoroid...

). He proceeded with Bonpland to Caracas
Caracas
Caracas , officially Santiago de León de Caracas, is the capital and largest city of Venezuela; natives or residents are known as Caraquenians in English . It is located in the northern part of the country, following the contours of the narrow Caracas Valley on the Venezuelan coastal mountain range...

; and in February 1800 they left the coast with the purpose of exploring the course of the Orinoco River. This trip, which lasted four months and covered 1725 miles (2,776.1 km) of wild and largely uninhabited country, had the important result of establishing the existence of the Casiquiare canal
Casiquiare canal
The Casiquiare river is a distributary of the upper Orinoco flowing southward into the Rio Negro, in Venezuela, South America. As such, it forms a unique natural canal between the Orinoco and Amazon river systems. It is the largest river on the planet that links two major river systems, a...

 (a communication between the water-systems of the rivers Orinoco and Amazon
Amazon River
The Amazon of South America is the second longest river in the world and by far the largest by waterflow with an average discharge greater than the next seven largest rivers combined...

), and of determining the exact position of the bifurcation
River bifurcation
River bifurcation occurs when a river flowing in a single stream separates into two or more separate streams which continue downstream. Some rivers form complex networks of distributaries, especially in their deltas...

, as well as documenting the life of several native tribes such as the Maipures and their extinct rivals the Atures. Around March 19, 1800, von Humboldt and Bonpland discovered and captured some electric eel
Electric eel
The electric eel , is an electric fish, and the only species of the genus Electrophorus. It is capable of generating powerful electric shocks, of up to six hundred volts, which it uses for both hunting and self-defense. It is an apex predator in its South American range...

s. They both received potentially dangerous electric shocks during their investigations. Two months later they explored the territory of the Maypures and that of the then recently extinct Aturès Indians.

On November 24, the two friends set sail for Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

, and after a stay of some months they regained the mainland at Cartagena, Colombia
Cartagena, Colombia
Cartagena de Indias , is a large Caribbean beach resort city on the northern coast of Colombia in the Caribbean Coast Region and capital of Bolívar Department...

. Ascending the swollen stream of the Magdalena
Magdalena River
The Magdalena River is the principal river of Colombia, flowing northward about through the western half of the country. It takes its name from the biblical figure Mary Magdalene. It is navigable through much of its lower reaches, in spite of the shifting sand bars at the mouth of its delta, as...

 River and crossing the frozen ridges of the Cordillera Real
Cordillera Real (Ecuador)
The Cordillera Real is a chain of mountains in the Andes of Ecuador, the largest of them volcanic. They are continued by the Cordillera Central of Peru to the south and the Cordillera Central of Colombia to the north...

, they reached Quito
Quito
San Francisco de Quito, most often called Quito , is the capital city of Ecuador in northwestern South America. It is located in north-central Ecuador in the Guayllabamba river basin, on the eastern slopes of Pichincha, an active stratovolcano in the Andes mountains...

 on January 6, 1802, after a tedious and difficult journey. Their stay there was marked by the ascent of Pichincha
Pichincha (volcano)
Pichincha is an active stratovolcano in the country of Ecuador, whose capital Quito wraps around its eastern slopes. The mountain's two highest peaks are the Guagua , which means "child" in Quechua and the Rucu , which means "old person". The active caldera is in the Guagua, on the western side of...

 and an attempt on Chimborazo
Chimborazo (volcano)
Chimborazo is a currently inactive stratovolcano located in the Cordillera Occidental range of the Andes. Its last known eruption is believed to have occurred around 550 AD....

. Humboldt and his party reached an altitude of 19286 feet (5,878.4 m), a world record at the time. The journey concluded with an expedition to the sources of the Amazon en route for Lima, Peru. At Callao
Callao
Callao is the largest and most important port in Peru. The city is coterminous with the Constitutional Province of Callao, the only province of the Callao Region. Callao is located west of Lima, the country's capital, and is part of the Lima Metropolitan Area, a large metropolis that holds almost...

, Humboldt observed the transit of Mercury
Transit of Mercury
A transit of Mercury across the Sun takes place when the planet Mercury comes between the Sun and the Earth, and Mercury is seen as a small black dot moving across the face of the Sun....

 on November 9, and studied the fertilizing properties of guano
Guano
Guano is the excrement of seabirds, cave dwelling bats, and seals. Guano manure is an effective fertilizer due to its high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen and also its lack of odor. It was an important source of nitrates for gunpowder...

, the subsequent introduction of which into Europe was due mainly to his writings. A tempestuous sea-voyage brought them to Mexico, where they resided for a year, travelling to different cities.

Next, Humboldt made a short visit to the United States, staying in the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

 as a guest of President Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

. Jefferson, a scientist himself, was delighted to have Humboldt as a guest and the two held numerous intense discussions on scientific matters. After six weeks, Humboldt set sail for Europe from the mouth of the Delaware
Delaware River
The Delaware River is a major river on the Atlantic coast of the United States.A Dutch expedition led by Henry Hudson in 1609 first mapped the river. The river was christened the South River in the New Netherland colony that followed, in contrast to the North River, as the Hudson River was then...

 and landed at Bordeaux
Bordeaux
Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne River in the Gironde department in southwestern France.The Bordeaux-Arcachon-Libourne metropolitan area, has a population of 1,010,000 and constitutes the sixth-largest urban area in France. It is the capital of the Aquitaine region, as well as the prefecture...

 on August 3, 1804.

Achievements of the Latin American expedition


This memorable expedition may be regarded as having laid the foundation of the sciences of physical geography and meteorology
Meteorology
Meteorology is the interdisciplinary scientific study of the atmosphere. Studies in the field stretch back millennia, though significant progress in meteorology did not occur until the 18th century. The 19th century saw breakthroughs occur after observing networks developed across several countries...

. By his delineation (in 1817) of "isothermal lines", he at once suggested the idea and devised the means of comparing the climatic conditions of various countries. He first investigated the rate of decrease in mean temperature with the increase in elevation above sea level, and afforded, by his inquiries regarding the origin of tropical storms, the earliest clue to the detection of the more complicated law governing atmospheric disturbances in higher latitudes; while his essay on the geography of plants was based on the then novel idea of studying the distribution of organic life as affected by varying physical conditions. His discovery of the decrease in intensity of Earth's magnetic field
Magnetic field
A magnetic field is a mathematical description of the magnetic influence of electric currents and magnetic materials. The magnetic field at any given point is specified by both a direction and a magnitude ; as such it is a vector field.Technically, a magnetic field is a pseudo vector;...

 from the poles to the equator was communicated to the Paris Institute in a memoir read by him on December 7, 1804, and its importance was attested by the speedy emergence of rival claims. His services to geology were based mainly on his attentive study of the volcano
Volcano
2. Bedrock3. Conduit 4. Base5. Sill6. Dike7. Layers of ash emitted by the volcano8. Flank| 9. Layers of lava emitted by the volcano10. Throat11. Parasitic cone12. Lava flow13. Vent14. Crater15...

es of the New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

. He showed that they fell naturally into linear groups, presumably corresponding with vast subterranean fissures; and by his demonstration of the igneous
Igneous rock
Igneous rock is one of the three main rock types, the others being sedimentary and metamorphic rock. Igneous rock is formed through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava...

 origin of rocks previously held to be of aqueous formation, he contributed largely to the elimination of erroneous views, such as Neptunism
Neptunism
Neptunism is a discredited and obsolete scientific theory of geology proposed by Abraham Gottlob Werner in the late 18th century that proposed rocks formed from the crystallisation of minerals in the early Earth's oceans....

.



Humboldt is considered to be the "second discoverer of Cuba" due to all the scientific and social research he conducted on this Spanish colony. During an initial three-month stay at Havana
Havana
Havana is the capital city, province, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city proper has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of — making it the largest city in the Caribbean region, and the most populous...

, his first tasks were to properly survey that city and the nearby towns of Guanabacoa, Regla and Bejucal
Bejucal
For the Maya archaeological site in Guatemala see Bejucal Bejucal is a municipality and city in the Mayabeque Province of Cuba. It borders to the north Boyeros; to the east with San José de las Lajas; to the south with Quivicán; and on the west with San Antonio de los Baños. It was founded in 1874...

.
He befriended Cuban landowner and thinker Francisco Arango y Parreño; together they visited the area in south Havana, the valleys of Matanzas
Matanzas
Matanzas is the capital of the Cuban province of Matanzas. It is famed for its poets, culture, and Afro-Cuban folklore.It is located on the northern shore of the island of Cuba, on the Bay of Matanzas , east of the capital Havana and west of the resort town of Varadero.Matanzas is called the...

 Province and the Valley of the Sugar Mills in Trinidad
Trinidad, Cuba
-External links:* , Online travel guide to Trinidad* , Selected photos of Trinidad* , Photos of Trinidad...

. Those three areas were, at the time, the first frontier of sugar production in the island. During those trips, Humboldt collected statistical information on Cuba's population, production, technology and trade, and with Arango, made suggestions for enhancing them. He predicted that the agricultural and commercial potential of Cuba was huge and could be vastly improved with proper leadership in the future. After traveling to the United States, Humboldt returned to Cuba for a second, shorter stay in April 1804. During this time he socialized with his scientific and landowner friends, conducted mineralogical surveys and finished his vast collection of the island's flora and fauna.

Finally, Humboldt conducted a rudimentary census of the indigenous and European inhabitants in New Spain
New Spain
New Spain, formally called the Viceroyalty of New Spain , was a viceroyalty of the Spanish colonial empire, comprising primarily territories in what was known then as 'América Septentrional' or North America. Its capital was Mexico City, formerly Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec Empire...

, and on May 5, 1804, he estimated the population to be six million individuals.

The editing and publication of the encyclopedic mass of scientific, political and archaeological material that had been collected by him during his absence from Europe was now Humboldt's most urgent desire. After a short trip to Italy with Gay-Lussac
Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac
- External links :* from the American Chemical Society* from the Encyclopædia Britannica, 10th Edition * , Paris...

 for the purpose of investigating the law of magnetic declination
Magnetic declination
Magnetic declination is the angle between magnetic north and true north. The declination is positive when the magnetic north is east of true north. The term magnetic variation is a synonym, and is more often used in navigation...

 and a sojourn of two and a half years in his native city, he finally, in the spring of 1808, settled in Paris with the purpose of securing the scientific cooperation required for bringing his great work through the press. This colossal task, which he at first hoped would occupy but two years, eventually cost him twenty-one, and even then it remained incomplete. In these early years in Paris, he shared accommodation and a laboratory with his former rival, and now friend, Joseph-Louis Gay-Lussac, both working together on the analysis of gases and the composition of the atmosphere.

Humboldtian Science


Alexander von Humboldt thought an approach to science was needed that could account for the harmony of nature among the diversity of the physical world. For Humboldt, "the unity of nature" meant that interrelation of all physical sciences- such as the conjoining between biology
Biology
Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy. Biology is a vast subject containing many subdivisions, topics, and disciplines...

, meteorology
Meteorology
Meteorology is the interdisciplinary scientific study of the atmosphere. Studies in the field stretch back millennia, though significant progress in meteorology did not occur until the 18th century. The 19th century saw breakthroughs occur after observing networks developed across several countries...

 and geology
Geology
Geology is the science comprising the study of solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which it evolves. Geology gives insight into the history of the Earth, as it provides the primary evidence for plate tectonics, the evolutionary history of life, and past climates...

 that determined where specific plants grew. The scientist traced these relationships by unravelling myriad, painstakingly collected data, which turned into an enduring foundation for others to follow. Humboldt viewed nature holistically
Holism
Holism is the idea that all the properties of a given system cannot be determined or explained by its component parts alone...

. He tried to explain natural phenomena without the appeal to religious dogma. Humboldt used extensive observation to get the truth from the natural world. He had a vast array of the most sophisticated scientific instruments ever before assembled. Each had its own velvet lined box and was the most accurate and portable of its time. Essentially everything would be measured with the finest and most modern instruments and sophisticated techniques available, for all the collected data was the basis of all scientific understanding. This quantitative methodology would become known as "Humboldtian science." Humboldt wrote "Nature herself is sublimely eloquent. The stars as they sparkle in firmament fill us with delight and ecstasy, and yet they all move in orbit marked out with mathematical precision."

Criticism


His critics say his writings contain fantastical descriptions of America, while leaving out its inhabitants. They claim Humboldt, coming from the Romantic
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 school of thought, believed '...nature is perfect till man deforms it with care.' In this line of thinking, they think he largely neglected the human societies amidst this nature. The writing style that describes the 'new world' without people is a trend among explorers both of the past and present. Views of indigenous peoples as 'savage' or 'unimportant' leaves them out of the historical picture. In reality Humboldt dedicated large parts of his work to describing the conditions of slaves, Indians and society in general. He often showed his disgust for the slavery and inhumane conditions in which Indians and others were treated and he often criticized the colonial policies. Some of Humboldt's descriptions or assumptions were not accurate.

Humboldt acclaimed


Humboldt was now one of the most famous men in Europe. The acclaimed American painter Rembrandt Peale
Rembrandt Peale
Rembrandt Peale was an American artist and museum keeper. A prolific portrait painter, he was especially acclaimed for his likenesses of presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson...

 painted him during his European stay, between 1808 and 1810, as one of the most prominent figures in Europe at the time. A chorus of applause greeted him from every side. Academies, both native and foreign, were eager to enrol him among their members. He was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences or Kungliga Vetenskapsakademien is one of the Royal Academies of Sweden. The Academy is an independent, non-governmental scientific organization which acts to promote the sciences, primarily the natural sciences and mathematics.The Academy was founded on 2...

 in 1810. King Frederick William III of Prussia
Frederick William III of Prussia
Frederick William III was king of Prussia from 1797 to 1840. He was in personal union the sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuchâtel .-Early life:...

 conferred upon him the honour, without exacting the duties, attached to the post of royal chamberlain, together with a pension of 2,500 thaler
Thaler
The Thaler was a silver coin used throughout Europe for almost four hundred years. Its name lives on in various currencies as the dollar or tolar. Etymologically, "Thaler" is an abbreviation of "Joachimsthaler", a coin type from the city of Joachimsthal in Bohemia, where some of the first such...

s, afterwards doubled. He refused the appointment of Prussian minister of public instruction in 1810. In 1814 he accompanied the allied sovereigns to London. Three years later he was summoned by the king of Prussia to attend him at the congress of Aachen
Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle (1818)
The Congress or Conference of Aix-la-Chapelle , held in the autumn of 1818, was primarily a meeting of the four allied powers Britain, Austria, Prussia and Russia to decide the question of the withdrawal of the army of occupation from France and the nature of the modifications to be introduced in...

. Humboldt was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems. The Academy’s elected members are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business, and public affairs.James Bowdoin, John Adams, and...

 in 1822. Again in the autumn of 1822 he accompanied the same monarch to the Congress of Verona
Congress of Verona
The Congress of Verona met at Verona on October 20, 1822 as part of the series of international conferences or congresses that opened with the Congress of Vienna in 1814-15, which had instituted the Concert of Europe at the close of the Napoleonic Wars....

, proceeded thence with the royal party to Rome and Naples and returned to Paris in the spring of 1823.


Humboldt had long regarded the French capital as his true home. There he found not only scientific sympathy, but the social stimulus which his vigorous and healthy mind eagerly craved. He was equally in his element as the lion of the salon
Salon (gathering)
A salon is a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine taste and increase their knowledge of the participants through conversation. These gatherings often consciously followed Horace's definition of the aims of poetry, "either to...

s and as the savant of the Institut de France
Institut de France
The Institut de France is a French learned society, grouping five académies, the most famous of which is the Académie française.The institute, located in Paris, manages approximately 1,000 foundations, as well as museums and chateaux open for visit. It also awards prizes and subsidies, which...

 and the observatory. During that time he met in 1818, the young and brilliant Peruvian student of the Royal Mining School of Paris, Mariano Eduardo de Rivero y Ustariz
Mariano Eduardo de Rivero y Ustariz
Mariano Eduardo de Rivero y Ustariz was a prominent Peruvian scientist, geologist, mineralogist, chemist, archaeologist, politician and diplomat...

. They became good friends. Subsequently von Humboldt acted as a mentor of the career of this promising Peruvian scientist. Thus, when at last he received from his sovereign a summons to join his court at Berlin, he obeyed indeed, but with deep and lasting regret. The provincialism of his native city was odious to him. He never ceased to rail against the bigotry without religion, aestheticism without culture, and philosophy without common sense, which he found dominant on the banks of the Spree
Spree
The Spree is a river that flows through the Saxony, Brandenburg and Berlin states of Germany, and in the Ústí nad Labem region of the Czech Republic...

. The unremitting benefits and sincere attachment of two well-meaning princes secured his gratitude but could not appease his discontent. At first he sought relief from the "nebulous atmosphere" of his new abode by frequent visits to Paris; but as years advanced, his excursions were reduced to accompanying the monotonous "oscillations" of the court between Potsdam
Potsdam
Potsdam is the capital city of the German federal state of Brandenburg and part of the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region. It is situated on the River Havel, southwest of Berlin city centre....

 and Berlin. On May 12, 1827, he settled permanently in the Prussian capital, where his first efforts were directed towards the furtherance of the science of terrestrial magnetism. For many years, it had been one of his favourite schemes to secure, by means of simultaneous observations at distant points, a thorough investigation of the nature and law of "magnetic storm
Magnetic storm
Magnetic storm can refer to:* A geomagnetic storm* Magnetic Storm , the title of a book of paintings by Roger Dean* Magnetic Storm , the title of an hourlong PBS NOVA documentary about Earth's changing magnetic fields...

s" (a term invented by him to designate abnormal disturbances of Earth's magnetism
Earth's magnetic field
Earth's magnetic field is the magnetic field that extends from the Earth's inner core to where it meets the solar wind, a stream of energetic particles emanating from the Sun...

). The meeting at Berlin, on September 18, 1828, of a newly formed scientific association, of which he was elected president, gave him the opportunity of setting on foot an extensive system of research in combination with his diligent personal observations. His appeal to the Russian government, in 1829, led to the establishment of a line of magnetic and meteorological stations across northern Asia. Meanwhile his letter to the Duke of Sussex
Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex
The Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex , was the sixth son of George III of the United Kingdom and his consort, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. He was the only surviving son of George III who did not pursue an army or naval career.- Early life :His Royal Highness The Prince Augustus...

, then (April 1836) president of the Royal Society
Royal Society
The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

, secured for the undertaking, the wide basis of the British dominions
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

.

The Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, observes, "Thus that scientific conspiracy of nations which is one of the noblest fruits of modern civilization was by his exertions first successfully organized." However, earlier examples of international scientific cooperation exist, notably the 18th-century observations of the transits of Venus.

Then President of Mexico, Benito Juárez
Benito Juárez
Benito Juárez born Benito Pablo Juárez García, was a Mexican lawyer and politician of Zapotec origin from Oaxaca who served five terms as president of Mexico: 1858–1861 as interim, 1861–1865, 1865–1867, 1867–1871 and 1871–1872...

, gave him honorary Mexican citizenship.

Explorations in Russia


In 1811, and again in 1818, projects of Asiatic exploration were proposed to Humboldt, first by the Russian government, and afterwards by the Prussian government; but on each occasion, untoward circumstances interposed, and it was not until he had begun his sixtieth year that he resumed his early role of traveller in the interests of science. Between May and November 1829, he, together with his chosen associates, Gustav Rose and C. G. Ehrenberg, traversed the wide expanse of the Russian empire from the Neva to the Yenesei, accomplishing in twenty-five weeks a distance of 9614 miles (15,472.2 km). The journey, however, though carried out with all the advantages afforded by the immediate patronage of the Russian government, was too rapid to be profitable. The correction of the prevalent exaggerated estimate of the height of the Central Asian plateau, and the discovery of diamonds in the gold-washings of the Ural, a result which Humboldt's Brazilian experiences enabled him to predict, and by predicting to secure.

Humboldt as diplomat


Between 1830 and 1848 von Humboldt was frequently employed in diplomatic missions to the court of Louis Philippe
Louis-Philippe of France
Louis Philippe I was King of the French from 1830 to 1848 in what was known as the July Monarchy. His father was a duke who supported the French Revolution but was nevertheless guillotined. Louis Philippe fled France as a young man and spent 21 years in exile, including considerable time in the...

, with whom he always maintained the most cordial personal relations.

His brother, Wilhelm von Humboldt
Wilhelm von Humboldt
Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Karl Ferdinand Freiherr von Humboldt was a German philosopher, government functionary, diplomat, and founder of Humboldt Universität. He is especially remembered as a linguist who made important contributions to the philosophy of language and to the theory and practice...

, died in Alexander's arms on April 8, 1836. The death saddened the later years of his life; Alexander lamented that he had lost half of himself with the death of his brother.

Upon the accession of the crown prince Frederick William IV
Frederick William IV of Prussia
|align=right|Upon his accession, he toned down the reactionary policies enacted by his father, easing press censorship and promising to enact a constitution at some point, but he refused to enact a popular legislative assembly, preferring to work with the aristocracy through "united committees" of...

 in June 1840, Humboldt's favour at court increased. Indeed, the new king's craving for Humboldt's company became at times so importunate as to leave him only a few waking hours to work on his writing.

The "Cosmos"



The first two volumes of the Kosmos were published between the years 1845 and 1847. Humboldt had been intending to write a comprehensive work about different facets of geography and the natural sciences for decades. The writing first took shape in a set of lecture
Public lecture
A public lecture is one means employed for educating the public in the sciences and medicine. The Royal Institution has a long history of public lectures and demonstrations given by prominent experts in the field...

s he delivered before the University of Berlin
Humboldt University of Berlin
The Humboldt University of Berlin is Berlin's oldest university, founded in 1810 as the University of Berlin by the liberal Prussian educational reformer and linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt, whose university model has strongly influenced other European and Western universities...

 in the winter of 1827-28. In the words of one biography, these lectures would form "the cartoon
Cartoon
A cartoon is a form of two-dimensional illustrated visual art. While the specific definition has changed over time, modern usage refers to a typically non-realistic or semi-realistic drawing or painting intended for satire, caricature, or humor, or to the artistic style of such works...

 for the great fresco of the [K]osmos". The scope of this work may be described as the representation of the unity amidst the complexity of nature. Humboldt's work was by and large a synthesis of Kantian views of unity of natural phenomena. Drawing together the methods and instrumentation of the discrete sciences and with inspiration from German Romanticism
German Romanticism
For the general context, see Romanticism.In the philosophy, art, and culture of German-speaking countries, German Romanticism was the dominant movement of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. German Romanticism developed relatively late compared to its English counterpart, coinciding in its...

, Humboldt sought to create a compendium of the world's environment. The book was written for an educated audience and contains much contemporaneous scientific data.

The last decade of his long life — his "improbable" years, as he was accustomed to calling them — was devoted to the continuation of this work, of which the third and fourth volumes were published in 1850-58, while a fragment of a fifth was to appear posthumously in 1862. In these volumes he sought to elaborate upon the individual branches of science broadly surveyed in the first volume. Notwithstanding their high separate value, it must be admitted that, from an artistic point of view, these additions were deformities.
The characteristic idea of the work, so far as such a gigantic idea admitted of literary incorporation, was completely developed in its opening portions, and the attempt to convert it into a scientific encyclopædia was in truth to nullify its generating motive. Humboldt's remarkable industry and accuracy were never more conspicuous than in this latest trophy to his genius. Nor did he rely entirely on his own labours.
He owed much of what he accomplished to his rare power of assimilating thoughts that were not as his own and availing himself of others' cooperation. The notes to Kosmos overflow with laudatory citations, the current coin in which he discharged his intellectual debts.

Kosmos was very popular, especially in Britain and USA. In 1849 a German newspaper mused about the fact that in England two of the three different translations(!) of this work were made by women, "while in Germany most of the men do not understand it." The first had been made by Augustin Pritchard and published anonymous by Mr. Baillière, volume I in 1845 and volume II in 1848. But it suffered very much from the hurry it was made in. Humboldt wrote in a letter on this translation. "It will damage my reputation. All the charm of my description is destroyed by an English sounding like Sanskrit." The other two translations were made by Mrs. Sabine under the superintendence of her Husband Col. Edward Sabine
Edward Sabine
General Sir Edward Sabine KCB FRS was an Irish astronomer, geophysicist, ornithologist and explorer.Two branches of Sabine's work in particular deserve very high credit: Determination of the length of the seconds pendulum, a simple pendulum whose time period on the surface of the Earth is two...

 (4 volumes 1846–1858), and by Miss E.C. Otté (5 volumes 1849–1858, the only complete translation of the 4 German volumes). These three translations were also published in USA. The numbering of the volumes differ between the German and the English editions. Volume 3 of the German edition corresponds to the volumes 3 and 4 of the English translation, as the German volume appeared in 2 parts in 1850 and 1851. Volume 5 of the German edition was not translated until 1981, again by a woman. A great advantage of the English translation of Miss Otté was its detailed table of contents, and index for every volume; of the German edition only volumes 4 and 5 had an extremely short table of contents. German readers had to wait until the appearance of volume 5 in 1862 for an index.

Not so well known in Germany is the atlas belonging to the German edition of the Cosmos "Berghaus’ Physikalischer Atlas", better known as the pirated version by Traugott Bromme under the title "Atlas zu Alexander von Humboldt's Kosmos" (Stuttgart 1861). In Britain Heinrich Berghaus
Heinrich Berghaus
Heinrich Berghaus was a German geographer.-Life:Berghaus was born at Kleve. He was trained as a surveyor, and after volunteering for active service under General Tauentzien in 1813, joined the staff of the Prussian trigonometrical survey in 1816...

 planned to publish together with Alexander Keith Johnston
Alexander Keith Johnston (1804-1871)
Alexander Keith Johnston was a Scottish geographer.-Biography:He was born at Kirkhill near Edinburgh. After an education at the high school and the University of Edinburgh he was apprenticed to an engraver; and in 1826 joined his brother in a printing and engraving business, forming the...

 a "Physical Atlas". But later Johnston published it alone under the title "The Physical Atlas of Natural Phenomena". In Britain its connection to the Cosmos seems not have been recognized.

Illness and death



On February 24, 1857, Humboldt suffered a minor stroke
Stroke
A stroke, previously known medically as a cerebrovascular accident , is the rapidly developing loss of brain function due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. This can be due to ischemia caused by blockage , or a hemorrhage...

, which passed without perceptible symptoms. It was not until the winter of 1858-1859 that his strength began to decline, and that spring, on May 6, he died quietly in Berlin at the age of 89. The honours which had been showered on him during life continued after his death. His remains, prior to being interred in the family resting-place at Tegel
Tegel
Tegel is a locality in the Berlin borough of Reinickendorf on the shore of Lake Tegel. The Tegel locality, the second largest in area of the 95 Berlin districts, also includes the neighbourhood of Saatwinkel.-History:...

, were conveyed in state through the streets of Berlin, and received by the prince-regent at the door of the cathedral. The first centenary of his birth was celebrated on September 14, 1869, with great enthusiasm in both the New and Old Worlds. Numerous monuments were constructed in his honour, and newly explored regions named after Humboldt, bear witness to his wide fame and popularity.

Personal life


Much of Humboldt's private life remains a mystery because he destroyed his private letters.

In 1908 the sexual researcher Paul Näcke, who worked with outspoken gay
Gay
Gay is a word that refers to a homosexual person, especially a homosexual male. For homosexual women the specific term is "lesbian"....

 activist Magnus Hirschfeld
Magnus Hirschfeld
Magnus Hirschfeld was a German physician and sexologist. An outspoken advocate for sexual minorities, Hirschfeld founded the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, which Dustin Goltz called "the first advocacy for homosexual and transgender rights."-Early life:Hirschfeld was born in Kolberg in a...

, gathered reminiscences of him from people who recalled his participation in the homosexual subculture of Berlin. A travelling companion, the pious Francisco José de Caldas
Francisco José de Caldas
Francisco José de Caldas was a Colombian lawyer, naturalist, and geographer who died a martyr by orders of Pablo Morillo during the Reconquista for being a precursor of the Independence of New Granada ....

, accused him of frequenting houses where 'impure love reigned', of making friends with 'obscene dissolute youths', and giving vent to 'shameful passions of his heart'. On the question of homosexuality, author Robert F. Aldrich concludes, "As for so many men of his age, a definite answer is impossible."
Throughout his life Humboldt formed strong emotional attachments to men. In a letter to Reinhard von Haeften, a soldier, he wrote: "I know that I live only through you, my good precious Reinhard, and that I can only be happy in your presence." He never married, yet there were at least two notable occasions where he seemed to have been drawn to the opposite sex. The first was an adolescent infatuation with Henriette Herz
Henriette Herz
Henriette Herz née De Lemos is best known for the "salonnieres" or literary salons that she started with a group of emancipated Jews in Prussia....

, the beautiful wife of Marcus Herz, his mentor, and the second was a short lived but intimate relationship with a woman named Pauline Wiesel in 1808 Paris. He was strongly attached to his brother's family. Four years before his death, he executed a deed of gift transferring the absolute possession of his entire property to an old family servant named Seifert.

Humboldt made many friends and had a reputation for widespread benevolence. He showed zeal for the improvement of the condition of the miners in Galicia and Franconia
Franconia
Franconia is a region of Germany comprising the northern parts of the modern state of Bavaria, a small part of southern Thuringia, and a region in northeastern Baden-Württemberg called Tauberfranken...

, detestation of slavery, and patronage of rising men of science.

Species named after Humboldt

See also the list of things named for Alexander von Humboldt.


As a consequence of his explorations, von Humboldt described many geographical features and species of life that were hitherto unknown to Europeans. Species named after him include:
  • Spheniscus humboldti — Humboldt penguin
  • Dosidicus gigas — Humboldt squid
  • Lilium humboldtii
    Lilium humboldtii
    Lilium humboldtii is a species of lily endemic to California named after naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt...

     — Humboldt's lily
  • Phragmipedium humboldtii — an orchid
  • Quercus humboldtii
    Quercus humboldtii
    Quercus humboldtii, commonly known as the Andean Oak, Colombian Oak or Roble, is a species of oak in the Fagaceae family. It is endemic to the highlands of northern South America, with an altitudinal range from 1,000 to 3,200 m...

     — South American (Andean) oak
  • Conepatus humboldtii — Humboldt's Hog-nosed skunk
  • Annona humboldtii — Neotropical tree or shrub
  • Annona humboldtiana — Neotropical tree or shrub
  • Utricularia humboldtii
    Utricularia humboldtii
    Utricularia humboldtii is a large perennial carnivorous plant that belongs to the genus Utricularia. Peter Taylor lists it as either an "aquatic-epiphyte", a subaquatic or a terrestrial species. U. humboldtii is endemic to South America, where it is found in Brazil, Guyana, and Venezuela. It...

     — a bladderwort
  • Geranium humboldtii — a cranesbill
  • Salix humboldtiana — a South-American willow. http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=SAHU
  • Inia geoffrensis humboldtiana
    Boto
    The Amazon river dolphin, alternatively Bufeo, Bufeo Colorado, Boto Cor de Rosa, Boutu, Nay, Tonina, or Pink Dolphin , is a freshwater river dolphin endemic to the Orinoco, Amazon and Araguaia/Tocantins River systems of Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela...

     — Amazon River Dolphin subspecies living at Orinoco River basin

Geographical features named after Humboldt


Features named after him include the following:
  • Humboldt Bay — Bay in Northern California
  • Humboldt Current
    Humboldt Current
    The Humboldt Current , also known as the Peru Current, is a cold, low-salinity ocean current that flows north-westward along the west coast of South America from the southern tip of Chile to northern Peru. It is an eastern boundary current flowing in the direction of the equator, and can extend...

     — off the west coast of South America
  • Humboldt Glacier
    Humboldt Glacier
    Humboldt Glacier is the widest tidewater glacier in the Northern Hemisphere. It borders the Kane Basin in North West Greenland. Its front is wide. It has been retreating in the period of observation spanning 1975-2010. The glacier is named after German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt.-Footnotes:...

     — in North West Greenland
  • Humboldt River
    Humboldt River
    The Humboldt River runs through northern Nevada in the western United States. At approximately long it is the second longest river in the Great Basin, after the Bear River. It has no outlet to the ocean, but instead empties into the Humboldt Sink...

    —River in Nevada
  • Humboldt Peak (Colorado)
    Humboldt Peak (Colorado)
    Humboldt Peak is a high peak in the Sangre de Cristo Range in southern Colorado. It is the least challenging climb of the Crestone group of fourteeners, which include Crestone Peak, Crestone Needle, and Kit Carson Peak...

    —4,287 meter mountain in Custer County, Colorado, United States
  • Pico Humboldt
    Pico Humboldt
    Pico Humboldt is Venezuela's second highest peak, at 4,940 metres above sea level. It is located in the Sierra Nevada de Merida, in the Venezuelan Andes of...

    —4,940 meter mountain in Mérida, Venezuela
  • Humboldt Sink
    Humboldt Sink
    Humboldt Sink is an intermittent dry lake bed, approximately 11 mi long, and 4 mi across, in northwestern Nevada in the United States...

    —Dry lake bed in Nevada
  • East
    East Humboldt Range
    The East Humboldt Range is a line of mountains in northeastern Nevada in the Great Basin region of the western United States. It located in central Elko County in the upper watershed of the Humboldt River, which flows to the southwest from its source just north of the range.The East Humboldts run...

     and West Humboldt Range
    West Humboldt Range
    The West Humboldt Range is a short mountain range in the western Great Basin in northwestern Nevada in the United States. It runs for approximately 40 mi southwest to northeast in northern Churchill County and southern Pershing County...

  • Sima Humboldt
    Sima Humboldt
    Sima Humboldt is an enormous sinkhole located on the summit of the plateau of Sarisariñama tepui in Bolívar State, Venezuela. It is unusual for several reasons, including its enormous size and depth, its location on the top of the only forested tepui, having a patch of forest on its base and also...

     - sinkhole in Venezuela
  • Venezuela's first-designated national monument (the "Monumento Nacional Alejandro de Humboldt") at Caripe
    Caripe
    Caripe is a town in Caripe Municipality in the mountainous north of the state of Monagas in eastern Venezuela.The soil of the Caripe Valley is very fertile, and the climate of the area is exceptionally pleasant, a result of its altitude , latitude , and proximity to the Caribbean Sea...


Places named after Humboldt


The following places are named for Humboldt:
  • Hacienda Humboldt
    Hacienda Humboldt
    Hacienda Humboldt is an ejido in the municipality of Julimes , Chihuahua which was once a private cattle ranch. It belonged for a period of time to Luis Terrazas and was sold by him for the formation of a colony of South African refugees from the Anglo Boer War. The refugees were assisted in their...

    , Chihuahua, Mexico
  • Humboldt, South Dakota
    Humboldt, South Dakota
    Humboldt is a town in Minnehaha County, South Dakota, United States. The population was 589 at the 2010 census.-History:The town was named after German scientist, explorer and diplomat Alexander von Humboldt.-Geography:...

    , United States
  • Humboldt, Nebraska
    Humboldt, Nebraska
    Humboldt is a city in Richardson County, Nebraska, United States. The population was 941 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Humboldt is located at ....

    , United States
  • Humboldt, Illinois
    Humboldt, Illinois
    Humboldt is an incorporated town in Coles County, Illinois, in the United States. As of the 2010 census, the town population was 437. It is part of the Charleston–Mattoon Micropolitan Statistical Area.-Geography:...

    , United States
  • Humboldt, Iowa
    Humboldt, Iowa
    Humboldt is a city in Humboldt County, Iowa, United States. The population was 4,690 at the 2010 census, gaining 238 people since the 2000 census.- History :...

    , United States
  • Humboldt, Tennessee
    Humboldt, Tennessee
    Humboldt is a city in Gibson and Madison counties in the U.S. state of Tennessee. The population was 8,452 at the 2010 census, a decline of 1,015 in 2000. It is the principal city of and is included in the Humboldt, Tennessee Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Jackson,...

    , United States
  • Humboldt, Kansas
    Humboldt, Kansas
    Humboldt is a city situated along the Neosho River in the southwest part of Allen County, located in southeast Kansas, in the Central United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 1,953.-History:...

    , United States
  • Humboldt, Minnesota
    Humboldt, Minnesota
    As of the census of 2000, there were 61 people, 25 households, and 17 families residing in the city. The population density was 579.7 people per square mile . There were 38 housing units at an average density of 361.1 per square mile...

    , United States
  • Humboldt, Arizona, United States
  • Humboldt County, California
    Humboldt County, California
    Humboldt County is a county in the U.S. state of California, located on the far North Coast 200 miles north of San Francisco. According to 2010 Census Data, the county’s population was 134,623...

    , United States
  • Humboldt County, Nevada
    Humboldt County, Nevada
    Humboldt County is a county located in the U.S. state of Nevada. As of 2007, the population was estimated to be 18,052. Its county seat is Winnemucca.The county was the site of an arrest in 2000 that led to the U.S. Supreme Court decision Hiibel v...

    , United States
  • Humboldt County, Iowa
    Humboldt County, Iowa
    -2010 census:The 2010 census recorded a population of 9,815 in the county, with a population density of . There were 4,684 housing units, of which 4,209 were occupied.-2000 census:...

    , United States
  • Humboldt, Saskatchewan
    Humboldt, Saskatchewan
    Humboldt is a Canadian city located in the province of Saskatchewan, 113 km east of Saskatoon at the junction of Highway 5 and Highway 20. The city is surrounded by the Rural Municipality of Humboldt No...

    , Canada
  • Humboldt Park
    Humboldt Park, Chicago
    Humboldt Park is one of 77 officially designated community areas located on the northwest side of Chicago, Illinois. The Humboldt Park neighborhood is widely known for its large Puerto Rican presence...

    : an official Community Area and park in Chicago, Illinois, United States
  • Alejandro de Humboldt National Park
    Alejandro de Humboldt National Park
    Parque Nacional Alejandro de Humboldt is a national park in the Cuban provinces of Holguín and Guantánamo. It is named after the German scientist Alexander von Humboldt who visited the island in 1800 and 1801...

    , Cuba
    Cuba
    The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

  • Alexander von Humboldt National Forest
    Alexander von Humboldt National Forest
    The Alexander von Humboldt National Forest is a national forest of Peru.This zone Alexander Von Humboldt published by means of R.M is shaped by the National Forest. Nº 0574-99-AG, corresponding to the department of Ucayali and Areas Authorized for the Use of Incidental Teams to the motosierra named...

     in Peru
    Peru
    Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

  • Humboldt Hotel in Cerro El Ávila
    Cerro El Ávila
    The El Ávila National Park covers part of the mountainous region of the coastal area of north-central Venezuela. The area's highest elevation is Pico Naiguatá, at 2.765 meters above sea level...

    , Venezuela
  • Humboldt Street in Brooklyn
    Brooklyn
    Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...

    , New York
  • Humboldt Avenue in Caracas
    Caracas
    Caracas , officially Santiago de León de Caracas, is the capital and largest city of Venezuela; natives or residents are known as Caraquenians in English . It is located in the northern part of the country, following the contours of the narrow Caracas Valley on the Venezuelan coastal mountain range...

    , Venezuela
  • Alexander von Humboldt Street (Ulica Alexandra von Humboldta) in Zagreb
    Zagreb
    Zagreb is the capital and the largest city of the Republic of Croatia. It is in the northwest of the country, along the Sava river, at the southern slopes of the Medvednica mountain. Zagreb lies at an elevation of approximately above sea level. According to the last official census, Zagreb's city...

    , Croatia
    Croatia
    Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

  • Humboldt-Toiyobe National Forest, California, United States


The Mare Humboldtianum
Mare Humboldtianum
Mare Humboldtianum is a lunar mare located within the Humboldtianum basin, just to the east of Mare Frigoris. It is located along the northeastern limb of the Moon, and continues on to the far side...

 lunar mare
Lunar mare
The lunar maria are large, dark, basaltic plains on Earth's Moon, formed by ancient volcanic eruptions. They were dubbed maria, Latin for "seas", by early astronomers who mistook them for actual seas. They are less reflective than the "highlands" as a result of their iron-rich compositions, and...

 is named after him, as is the asteroid
Asteroid
Asteroids are a class of small Solar System bodies in orbit around the Sun. They have also been called planetoids, especially the larger ones...

 54 Alexandra
54 Alexandra
54 Alexandra is a very large and dark main-belt asteroid. It was discovered by Hermann Goldschmidt on September 10, 1858, and named after the German explorer Alexander von Humboldt; it was the first asteroid to be named after a male....

.

Universities

  • Humboldt University of Berlin
    Humboldt University of Berlin
    The Humboldt University of Berlin is Berlin's oldest university, founded in 1810 as the University of Berlin by the liberal Prussian educational reformer and linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt, whose university model has strongly influenced other European and Western universities...

     is named after Alexander and his brother Wilhelm
    Wilhelm von Humboldt
    Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Karl Ferdinand Freiherr von Humboldt was a German philosopher, government functionary, diplomat, and founder of Humboldt Universität. He is especially remembered as a linguist who made important contributions to the philosophy of language and to the theory and practice...

     who founded it.
  • Humboldt Tropical Medicine Institute at Cayetano Heredia University, Lima
    Lima
    Lima is the capital and the largest city of Peru. It is located in the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers, in the central part of the country, on a desert coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Together with the seaport of Callao, it forms a contiguous urban area known as the Lima...

    , Peru
    Peru
    Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

  • Humboldt State University
    Humboldt State University
    Humboldt State University is the northernmost campus of the California State University system, located in Arcata within Humboldt County, California, USA. The main campus, nestled at the edge of a coast redwood forest, is situated on Preston hill overlooking Arcata and with commanding views of...

     in Arcata, California
    Arcata, California
    -Demographics:-2010 Census data:The 2010 United States Census reported that Arcata had a population of 17,231. The population density was 1,567.4 people per square mile...

  • Universidad Alejandro de Humboldt, in Caracas, Venezuela.

Colleges

  • Colegio Alemán Humboldt, Guayaquil, Ecuador.
  • Colegio Alemán Alexander von Humboldt
    Colegio Alemán Alexander von Humboldt
    Colegio Alemán Alexander von Humbolt, A. C. is a German school with bi-cultural fundamentals based in Mexico. Its history begins in the 19th century, with the already large German community living in Mexico, believing in establishing a school with standards similar to those of Germany. The first...

    , Mexico City Mexico.

Primary and Secondary Schools

  • Alexander-von-Humboldt-Gymnasium, Konstanz
    Alexander-von-Humboldt-Gymnasium, Konstanz
    The ' is a Gymnasium in Konstanz, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.The eponym is Alexander von Humboldt . The school has approximately 82 teachers and 985 students.- External links :*...

    , Germany
  • Humboldt Elementary School, Humboldt, Arizona
  • Humboldt Elementary School in Portland, Oregon
  • Humboldt Junior High School, Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States
  • Humboldt Senior High School, Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States
  • German International School
    Alexander von Humboldt Schule Montréal
    The Alexander von Humboldt Schule Montréal - German International School was founded in 1981. It is located in Baie-d'Urfé in the suburbs of Montreal. In 2008 the school hit 300 students. It offers a German/Québécois Curriculum....

    , Montreal
  • Humboldt Schule, San Jose, Costa Rica
  • Colegio de Alexander von Humboldt, Tacna, Perú
  • Colegio de Alexander von Humboldt, Lima, Perú

Lecture Series


Alexander Von Humboldt also lends his name to a prominent lecture series in Human geography
Human geography
Human geography is one of the two major sub-fields of the discipline of geography. Human geography is the study of the world, its people, communities, and cultures. Human geography differs from physical geography mainly in that it has a greater focus on studying human activities and is more...

 in the Netherlands (hosted by the Radboud University Nijmegen
Radboud University Nijmegen
Radboud University Nijmegen is a public university with a strong focus on research in Nijmegen, the Netherlands...

). It is the Dutch equivalent of the widely known annual Hettner
Alfred Hettner
Alfred Hettner was a German geographer.He is known for his concept of chorology, the study of places and regions....

 lectures at the University of Heidelberg.

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation


After his death, his friends and colleagues created the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation is a foundation set-up by the government of the Federal Republic and funded by the German Foreign Office, the Ministry of Education and Research, the Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development and others for the promotion of international co-operation...

 (Stiftung in German) to continue von Humboldt's generous support of young scientists. Although the original endowment was lost in the German hyperinflation of the 1920s, and again as a result of World War II, the Foundation has been re-endowed by the German government to award young scientists and distinguished senior scientists from abroad. It plays an important role in attracting foreign researchers to work in Germany and enabling German researchers to work abroad for a period

Dedications


Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe was an American author, poet, editor and literary critic, considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is considered the inventor of the detective...

 dedicated his last major work, Eureka: A Prose Poem, to von Humboldt. Humboldt's attempt to unify the sciences in his Kosmos was a big inspiration for Poe's project.

Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...

 made frequent reference to Humboldt's work in his Voyage of the Beagle
The Voyage of the Beagle
The Voyage of the Beagle is a title commonly given to the book written by Charles Darwin and published in 1839 as his Journal and Remarks, bringing him considerable fame and respect...

, where Darwin described his own scientific exploration of the Americas. In one note, he placed Humboldt first on the "list of American travellers". When this Journal was published, Darwin sent a copy to Humboldt, who responded "You told me in your kind letter that, when you were young, the manner in which I studied and depicted nature in the torrid zones contributed toward exciting in you the ardour and desire to travel in distant lands. Considering the importance of your work, Sir, this may be the greatest success that my humble work could bring." In his autobiography, Darwin recalled reading "with care and profound interest Humboldt's Personal Narrative" and finding it one of the two most influential books on his work, which had "stirred up in me a burning zeal to add even the most humble contribution to the noble structure of Natural Science."

Ship


Alexander von Humboldt
Alexander von Humboldt (ship)
Alexander von Humboldt is a German ship originally built in 1906 by the German shipyard AG Weser at Bremen as Reserve Sonderburg. She was operated throughout the North and Baltic Seas until being retired in 1986...

 is also a German ship
Ship
Since the end of the age of sail a ship has been any large buoyant marine vessel. Ships are generally distinguished from boats based on size and cargo or passenger capacity. Ships are used on lakes, seas, and rivers for a variety of activities, such as the transport of people or goods, fishing,...

 named after the scientist originally built in 1906 by the German shipyard AG Weser at Bremen as Reserve Sonderburg. She was operated throughout the North and Baltic Seas until being retired in 1986. Subsequently she was converted into a three masted barque
Barque
A barque, barc, or bark is a type of sailing vessel with three or more masts.- History of the term :The word barque appears to have come from the Greek word baris, a term for an Egyptian boat. This entered Latin as barca, which gave rise to the Italian barca, Spanish barco, and the French barge and...

 by the German shipyard Motorwerke Bremerhaven and was re-launched in 1988 as Alexander von Humboldt.

Recognitions by contemporaries


Wilhelm von Humboldt
Wilhelm von Humboldt
Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Karl Ferdinand Freiherr von Humboldt was a German philosopher, government functionary, diplomat, and founder of Humboldt Universität. He is especially remembered as a linguist who made important contributions to the philosophy of language and to the theory and practice...

: "Alexander is destined to combine ideas and follow chains of thoughts which would otherwise have remained unknown for ages. His depth, his sharp mind and his incredible speed are a rare combination."

Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...

: expressed his debt to Humboldt, and admiration for his work, and wrote to Joseph Dalton Hooker
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker OM, GCSI, CB, MD, FRS was one of the greatest British botanists and explorers of the 19th century. Hooker was a founder of geographical botany, and Charles Darwin's closest friend...

 that Humboldt was the "greatest scientific traveller who ever lived".

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer, pictorial artist, biologist, theoretical physicist, and polymath. He is considered the supreme genius of modern German literature. His works span the fields of poetry, drama, prose, philosophy, and science. His Faust has been called the greatest long...

: "Humboldt showers us with true treasures."

Friedrich von Schiller: "Alexander impresses many, particularly when compared to his brother - because he shows off more!"

Simón Bolívar
Simón Bolívar
Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte y Yeiter, commonly known as Simón Bolívar was a Venezuelan military and political leader...

: "Alexander von Humboldt has done more for America than all its conquerors, he is the true discoverer of America."

José de la Luz y Caballero
José de la Luz y Caballero
José Cipriano de la Luz y Caballero was a Cuban scholar, acclaimed by José Martí as "the father ... the silent layer of foundations" in Cuban intellectual life of the 19th Century...

: "Columbus gave Europe a New World; Humboldt made it known in its physical, material, intellectual, and moral aspects."

Napoléon Bonaparte: "You have been studying Botanics? Just like my wife!"

Claude Louis Berthollet
Claude Louis Berthollet
Claude Louis Berthollet was a Savoyard-French chemist who became vice president of the French Senate in 1804.-Biography:...

: "This man is as knowledgeable as a whole academy."

Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

: "I consider him the most important scientist whom I have met."

Emil Du Bois-Reymond
Emil du Bois-Reymond
Emil du Bois-Reymond was a German physician and physiologist, the discoverer of nerve action potential, and the father of experimental electrophysiology.-Life:...

: "Every scientist is a descendant of Humboldt. We are all his family."

Robert G. Ingersoll
Robert G. Ingersoll
Robert Green "Bob" Ingersoll was a Civil War veteran, American political leader, and orator during the Golden Age of Freethought, noted for his broad range of culture and his defense of agnosticism. He was nicknamed "The Great Agnostic."-Life and career:Robert Ingersoll was born in Dresden, New York...

: "He was to science what Shakespeare was to the drama."

Hermann von Helmholtz
Hermann von Helmholtz
Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz was a German physician and physicist who made significant contributions to several widely varied areas of modern science...

: "During the first half of the present century we had an Alexander von Humboldt, who was able to scan the scientific knowledge of his time in its details, and to bring it within one vast generalization. At the present juncture, it is obviously very doubtful whether this task could be accomplished in a similar way, even by a mind with gifts so peculiarly suited for the purpose as Humboldt's was, and if all his time and work were devoted to the purpose."

Scientific works


Le voyage aux régions equinoxiales du Nouveau Continent, fait en 1799-1804, par Alexandre de Humboldt et Aimé Bonpland (Paris, 1807, etc.), consisted of thirty folio and quarto volumes, and comprised a considerable number of subordinate but important works. Among these may be enumerated
  • Vue des Cordillères et monuments des peuples indigènes de l'Amérique (2 vols. folio, 1810);
  • Examen critique de l'histoire de la géographie du Nouveau Continent (1814–1834);
  • Atlas géographique et physique du royaume de la Nouvelle Espagne (1811);
  • Essai politique sur le royaume de la Nouvelle Espagne (1811);
  • Essai sur la géographie des plantes (1805, now very rare);
  • Relation historique du Voyage aux Régions équinoxiales du Nouveau Continent, etc. (1814–1825), an unfinished narrative of his travels, including the Essai politique sur l'île de Cuba.
  • Monographie des melastomacées (1833)


The genera et species plantarum (7 vols. folio, 1815–1825), containing descriptions of above 4500 species of plants collected by Humboldt and Bonpland, was mainly compiled by Carl Sigismund Kunth
Carl Sigismund Kunth
Carl Sigismund Kunth , also Karl Sigismund Kunth or anglicized as Charles Sigismund Kunth, was a German botanist...

; J. Oltmanns assisted in preparing the Recueil d'observations astronomiques (1808); Cuvier, Latreille, Valenciennes and Gay-Lussac cooperated in the Recueil d'observations de zoologie et d'anatomie comparée (1805–1833).

Humboldt's Ansichten der Natur (Stuttgart and Tübingen, 1808) went through three editions in his lifetime, and was translated into nearly every European language.

The results of his Asiatic journey were published in Fragments de géologie et de climatologie asiatiques (2 vols. 8vo, 1831), and in Asie centrale (3 vols. 8vo, 1843) an enlargement of the earlier work. The memoirs and papers read by him before scientific societies, or contributed by him to scientific periodicals, are too numerous for specification.

Biographies and studies of his work

  • Nicolaas A. Rupke. Alexander von Humboldt: A Metabiography (University of Chicago Press, 2008) 316 pp. online review
  • Laura Dassow Walls. The Passage to Cosmos: Alexander von Humboldt and the Shaping of America (2009)


A 1992 essay entitled "Journey to the Top of the World" details Humboldt's South American exploration and America's interest in him. The essay is chapter one of David McCullough's book, Brave Companions: Portraits in History
Brave Companions: Portraits in History
Brave Companions: Portraits in History is a 1992 book by American historian David McCullough.The book consists of previously published essays, most of which are biographical portraits of a specific historical figure or group of figures. It is divided into five sections.-Contents:I...

 (Prentice Hall Press, 1992).

Gerard Helferich's 2004 biography Humboldt's Cosmos: Alexander von Humboldt and the Latin American Journey that Changed the World (Gotham Books, 2004) provides a descriptive account of Humboldt's journey through Latin America, it utilizes Humboldt's journals.

Daniel Kehlmann
Daniel Kehlmann
Daniel Kehlmann is a German language author of both Austrian and German nationality. His work Die Vermessung der Welt is the best selling novel in the German language since Patrick Süskind's Perfume was released in 1985...

's 2005 novel Die Vermessung der Welt, translated into English by Carol Brown Janeway as Measuring the World
Measuring the World
Measuring the World is a 2005 novel by German author Daniel Kehlmann. The novel re-imagines the lives of German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss and German geographer Alexander von Humboldt – who was accompanied on his journeys by Aimé Bonpland – and their many groundbreaking ways of...

 in 2006, explores Humboldt's life through a lens of historical fiction, contrasting his character and contributions to science to those of Carl Friedrich Gauss
Carl Friedrich Gauss
Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss was a German mathematician and scientist who contributed significantly to many fields, including number theory, statistics, analysis, differential geometry, geodesy, geophysics, electrostatics, astronomy and optics.Sometimes referred to as the Princeps mathematicorum...

.

Humboldt's effect on American scientists and environmentalists (Clarence King
Clarence King
Clarence R. King was an American geologist, mountaineer, and art critic. First director of the United States Geological Survey, from 1879 to 1881, King was noted for his exploration of the Sierra Nevada. He was born in Newport, Rhode Island.-Career:...

, Jeremiah N. Reynolds
Jeremiah N. Reynolds
Jeremiah N. Reynolds , also known as J.N. Reynolds, was an American newspaper editor, lecturer, explorer and author who became an influential advocate for scientific expeditions...

, George Wallace Melville, and John Muir
John Muir
John Muir was a Scottish-born American naturalist, author, and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States. His letters, essays, and books telling of his adventures in nature, especially in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, have been read by millions...

) is examined in The Humboldt Current: Nineteenth Century Exploration and the Roots of American Environmentalism, by Aaron Sachs (Viking, 2006).

See also

  • Humboldtian science
    Humboldtian science
    Humboldtian science is a term given to the movement in science in the 19th century. The ideals and central themes of Humboldtian science are the result of the work of German scientist Alexander von Humboldt...

  • List of explorers
  • Ecology
    Ecology
    Ecology is the scientific study of the relations that living organisms have with respect to each other and their natural environment. Variables of interest to ecologists include the composition, distribution, amount , number, and changing states of organisms within and among ecosystems...

  • History of biology
    History of biology
    The history of biology traces the study of the living world from ancient to modern times. Although the concept of biology as a single coherent field arose in the 19th century, the biological sciences emerged from traditions of medicine and natural history reaching back to ayurveda, ancient Egyptian...

  • Aimé Bonpland
    Aimé Bonpland
    Aimé Jacques Alexandre Bonpland was a French explorer and botanist.Bonpland's real name was Goujaud, and he was born in La Rochelle, a coastal city in France. After serving as a surgeon in the French army, and studying under J. N...


External links


Portal
Sources
Misc
  • "Alexander von Humboldt", from In Our Time
    In Our Time (BBC Radio 4)
    In Our Time is a live BBC radio discussion series exploring the history of ideas, presented by Melvyn Bragg since 15 October 1998.. It is one of BBC radio's most successful discussion programmes, acknowledged to have "transformed the landscape for serious ideas at peak listening time"...

    , a 45 minutes BBC Radio 4
    BBC Radio 4
    BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station, operated and owned by the BBC, that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is currently Gwyneth Williams, and the...

     program.
  • Alexander von Humboldt featured on the 5 East German Mark banknote from 1964
  • A.J.P. Raat, Alexander von Humboldt and Coenraad Jacob Temminck
    Coenraad Jacob Temminck
    Coenraad Jacob Temminck was a Dutch aristocrat and zoologist.Temminck was the first director of the National Natural History Museum at Leiden from 1820 until his death. His Manuel d'ornithologie, ou Tableau systematique des oiseaux qui se trouvent en Europe was the standard work on European birds...

    , Zoologische Bijdragen, Vol. 21, 1976, p. 19-38 http://www.repository.naturalis.nl/record/317208