Alexander von Humboldt
Friedrich Heinrich Alexander, Baron von Humboldt , more known under the name of Alexander von Humboldt , and whose name is often francized in Alexandre de Humboldt , are a exploring Naturaliste and German, born the September 14th 1769 with Berlin and deceased the May 6th 1859 with the same place, the castle of Tegel.
By the quality of the readings taken during its forwardings, it founded the bases of scientific explorations.
In the search of its way
ChildhoodAt nine years, with died of his/her father, Alexander is raised by his/her mother, with her brother Wilhelm von Humboldt, two years its elder, in the severe environment of the castle of Tegel, around Berlin.
The second tutor of Humboldt, Gottlob Christian Kunth, plays a big role in the life of Alexander. He transmits to the Humboldt children a solid knowledge in history, mathematics, and languages. Alexander shows an interest pronounced for the natural history.
Whereas Wilhelm shows a robust constitution, an ease in the training and is directed in the high public office, Alexander is frail and learns laboriously. It is directed towards a poor training in economy. However, its relationship with professor von Feltion lost it.
StudiesTo sixteen years, Alexander is presented to Marcus Herz, Jewish doctor of the Academy of Science of Berlin, and is strongly impressed by the conferences being held at his place.
In 1788, Alexander von Humboldt studies in the family castle the techniques of manufacture and the old Greek. At eighteen years, it is initiated with the Botanique by his friend Karl Ludwig Wildenow. It launches out, at the university of Göttingen, in the matter study varied such as the Natural science, the Physique and the Chimie. After a geological voyage , it communicates in manner érudite on the Basalte S of the the Rhine. It is with Göttingen that Humboldt meets Georg Forster of which he will become the disciple and with which he will travel in Great Britain and in France for the revolutionary period .
Of return in Germany, Humboldt must continue its studies of trade. It devotes its leisures to geology, botany, and the study of the Swedish. Its thirst for knowing the conduit to the threshold of the insanity.
In 1791, Humboldt starts a formation with the academy of the mine S of Freiberg, then a career in the neighbouring mines. It finishes its studies and is directly named assessor at the department of the mines without having to be useful as a junior.
A striking down rise
In 1792, Humboldt writes an important report/ratio on the geology and the state of the mines. This report/ratio makes it promote general inspector of the mines. Vis-a-vis the ignorance of the minors who cannot distinguish a Minerai from a Roche without value, Humboldt clandestinely opens a school of training of the minors whom it finances of its own sums of money. He will refuse the money which the minister von Heinitz will send to him to defray it his expenditure.
Humboldt makes research to increase safety in the mines.
In 1794, it obtains a promotion in an office of Berlin, then takes part in diplomatic missions between the German allied states and the French revolutionary army.
Its research on electricityHumboldt makes experiments on the animals, the effect of the electricity, which he thinks of being contained in the nerves, and highlighted by the application of two different metals. It uses even its own body for its experiments. In 1797, it publishes its Expériences on the excited muscle and nervous fiber, with conjectures about the process chemical of the life in the animal world and vegetable . Alessandro Volta watch in 1795 that in fact metals create electricity and invents the Battery in 1800. Humboldt will keep all its life the bitterness not to have made the distinction between the physiological and electric effects, and not to have deduced the principles from them from the pile.
The departure of the mines for ParisIn 1796, the death of his/her mother releases it from her last family fasteners and the money worries thanks to this heritage.
The following year, in 1797, it resigns of the mines. With his friend von Buch, it will make scientific observations in the the Tyrol. It is there that it will develop the method of weather statements which will be used in the whole world.
Humboldt says that there are not that an advantage to withdraw situation presents, it is the elimination of the feudal system and all the privileges of the Noblesse ''. Humboldt settles with Paris, which is at that time the intellectual capital of planet.
Forwarding in America
From one forwarding to anotherThe admiral Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, celebrates navigator and explorer, and hero of his childhood, proposes to him to take part in a forwarding in South America, with the Mexico, in California, through the Pacifique, then with the South pole. Bougainville will be replaced by Baudin. A war with the Austria involves the Directoire to cancel forwarding.
The botanist Aimé Bonpland had, like Humboldt, to take part in the forwarding of Baudin. They become friendly and decide to join the erudite forwarding which follows the troops Napoleon iennes in Egypt. The boat that they were to take never does not arrive to Marseilles, where they came to await it. They then decide to go to foot in Spain to take a boat for Smyrna. During the six weeks of way, Humboldt made raised meticulous persons geographical.
Humboldt is presented to the king and to the queen of Spain. It obtains passports with the royal Sceau which guaranteed with the travellers the assistance of the authorities that they meet. Bonpland becomes officially companion and secretary of Humboldt. Humboldt and Bonpland are the first to carry out a scientific exploration worthy of this name. Major ambition of Humboldt during its voyage in Americas east to discover the interaction of the forces of nature and the influences which exerts the geographical environment on the life Végétal E and Animal E .
June 5th, 1799, they embark, with Corogne, corvette “Pizarro” bound for the Venezuela, and after a stopover with the the Canaries, they arrive on July 16th at Cumaná at Venezuela, in the east of Caracas. During navigation, Humboldt makes astronomical , weather measurements, of Magnétisme, Température and chemical composition of the sea.
In America, it has a deep dislike for the way in which and the slaves are evaluated are sold, even if it is in the Spanish possessions that they are maltreated. Chateaubriand will say of him in its edition of 1827 of Voyages in America : ” In America, Humboldt illustrates it painted all and all said “.
High OrénoqueHumboldt and Bonpland explore the tropical forest to try to confirm the presence, considered as impossible, of a natural channel between the Orénoque and the the Amazon, the Canal of Casiquiare, and to locate the exact place of the source of Orénoque. They collect many specimens of animals and plants unknown, and Humboldt méticuleusement records the temperature of the river, the ground and the air, and the Atmospheric pressure, the magnetic declination, the Longitude and the Latitude.
With Calabozo, Humboldt makes capture electric eels ( Electrophorus electricus ) to continue its study on electricity in the animal world.
With San Fernando, they take dugouts with a pilot, and Indians for pagayer. Certain passages must occur while making carry the dugout through the forest. The punctures of Moustique S, of which all the species take turns to be nourished throughout the day, cruelly make them suffer.
It leave Orénoque with muddy water for Atabapo, an affluent with clear and limpid water, then pass by narrow channels through the forest. It make carry their dugout on eleven kilometers to an affluent of the Amazon. Vingttrois Indiens during three days is necessary. It took them thirty-six days packed in their dugout and attacked by the parasites of any type to reach the Amazon.
Humboldt decides to go up an affluent of the Amazon towards the channel of Casiquiare of which it raises the position rigorously. Humboldt and Bonpland are not the first Européens to borrow this way, but the rigor of their statements and descriptions which they make, makes that there are no more doubts with the existence of a navigable passage between the Amazon and Orénoque. The course of Cassiquaire lasts twenty days, during which the Insecte S are omnipresent.
Of Havana with Quito
November 24th, 1800, Humboldt and Bonpland embark for Cuba. During the first part of this forwarding, which lasted one year, they collected many animals, and 20.000 botanical specimens. The third of their harvest is destroyed by moisture and the insects, but the assessment remains nevertheless considerable. They send their collections parcelled out to be certain that some parts will arrive. A series will be sent by the bottom, another captured by the British (then restored in Humboldt by a purchaser, years later).
January 6th, 1802, they arrive at Quito, where they become acquainted with the young Creole Carlos Montufar, who will follow them during many tours to come.
The AndesHumboldt learns that Baudin left France and must arrive at Lima, with the Peru. To avoid the absence of Trade winds, Humboldt and Bonpland decide to pass by overland route along the the Andes. They spend twelve months in altitude through the Volcan S. They have the feet in blood, but always refuse to make like the local aristocracy: to let itself carry by Indians in chairs fixed on their back. Humboldt secures a world famous by climbing the Chimborazo, top considered at the time as highest of the world. In fact, as opposed to what one believes commonly, Chimborazo is really the top furthest away from the center of the ground, even if its rise with the top in the sea level is appreciably less low than that of the Himalayas, for example. That is due to applatissement of the Earth which makes that it is not perfectly spherical and with the fact that Chimborazo is very close to the equator.
L' rise of Chimborazo begins on June 23rd, 1802. They could not arrive at the top, decrees which they were, to a few hundred meters, at the same time by a deep crack and the lack of oxygen. They rose nevertheless with the more high-altitude which one had ever reached then (they reach 5878 m, Chimborazo culminates to 6310 m).
Humboldt carries out observations in the field of the Sismologie and the Phytogéographie. He deduces from alignments of volcanos that the assembly lines were formed along geological faults. Former disciple of the neptunian , theory which says that the rocks were formed starting from liquid sediments, it changes opinion radically and converts with the Plutonisme.
Learning that Baudin will not make stopover in Lima, Humboldt, Bonpland and Montufar move towards Peru. They make a short passage close to the sources of the Amazon then join the Andes. Forwarding regains Lima the October 22nd 1802.
Humboldt takes Guano to make some make the analysis in Europe. It is him which will make known in Europe and North America its properties fertilizing.
Humboldt and its companions leave South America and spend the year 1803 to traverse the Mexico: March 23rd, they unload with Acapulco, after a crossing the most tormented of; in April, they are with Mexico City. Humboldt will write its political Essai on the kingdom of the News Spain , the first test of regional geography, in which it makes only one summary account of its voyages.
It embarks then for Havana to recover its collections deposited there there is more than three years.
Passage aux EtatsEstimating of his duty to greet Thomas Jefferson, president of the the United States, it prolongs his voyage and goes towards Philadelphia, capital of the country little before. Humboldt is accommodated by the American company of philosophy, built on the model of the Royal Society of London. Humboldt passes most of its time with the members of the Company. Bonpland and Montufar, not speaking English, have a role being limited more and more to that of observers. Humboldt meets Jefferson with which they speak only about natural histories, the different habits according to the countries, and about the means of raising the standard of living. The two men get along so that Jefferson invites Humboldt to place at his place.
Assessment of forwardingThe forwarding of Humboldt and Bonpland, one five years duration, cost Humboldt the third of its capital. It is one of most remarkable scientific exhibitions the, with a harvest of data of a scientific value even more important than the specimens than they could bring back.
Of return in EuropeIt arrives at broad of Bordeaux the August 1804.
After having made an account of its voyage to the Institute of France, Humboldt is considered by the largest scientists of its time, like a true travelling encyclopedia. Paris is the capital of science, and in spite of the request of his/her brother to return in Prussia and the revenues which it could receive there without efforts, Humboldt decides to remain there to sort its collections and to prepare a monumental work starting from its experiment.
Humboldt attends meetings with the largest scientists of its time: Berthollet, Laplace, Gay-Lussac. With this last, he undertakes a voyage in Italy during which he meets the revolutionist Venezuelan Simón Bolívar.
In 1805, Humboldt is with Berlin, where it is named Chambellan of the king. He works with a team to gather, order and put at clean the data which he collected. He makes measurements of Magnétisme day and night and notices that the needle varies according to the hour.
Humboldt publishes its Aspect of nature , popularizing work which is its most popular book.
In January 1808, Humboldt is sent by the king of Prussia with prince Guillaume in embassy in Paris to make decrease the amount of war indemnities. Humboldt remains in Paris and can be devoted to its work. Since France invaded Prussia, Humboldt does not receive any more incomes of its fields. He lives in Paris in a furnished room which he divides with Gay-Lussac. He never sleeps more than three to four hours per day.
Since 1807, it is narrowly supervised by the French police force because it is German and that its private correspondence reflects the political opinions of the Parisian living rooms. He writes 1 000 with 2 000 letters per annum. Humboldt spends 25 years to Paris during which it publishes its interminable Voyage on the America of the South.
In 1809, meets François Arago, fifteen years its junior, with whom he will sympathize and which will remain a close relation until the end of his life. They make together experiments with the Observatoire.
In 1826, Humboldt receives a letter of king de Prusse enjoignant it to leave Paris. It can from now on spend only four months of holidays there per annum. Humboldt exerts its functions of chamberlain in Berlin, where the capacity is very preserving and repressive. Humboldt is much haï for its liberal ideas.
In 1828, Humboldt obtains much success by giving courses to the university, then conferences in front of a larger audience. The scientific community does not make in Berlin, as in Paris, of the erudite meetings to confront the ideas. Humboldt organizes a meeting of Scientific Association in Berlin, in which six hundred scientists take part among most famous.
Forwarding in SiberiaIn 1827, the Russian Minister for Finance request with Humboldt its opinion on the emission of parts struck in Platinum. The course of platinum being unstable, Humboldt gives an unfavorable opinion and suggests going to study the mine S of the the Ural. In March 1829, Humboldt goes in Russia to the expenses of the emperor, with Gustave Pink, chemistry teacher and of mineralogy, C.G. Ehrenberg, zoologist, and a servant. In Russia, it is accommodated like an important official personality. It shares its meals with the family of the Tsar. At the beginning of Moscow, forwarding increased persons in charge of mining industry, and bureaucrats of the local authorities.
Humboldt spends one month to study the mines of the Ural. Thanks to the presence of seams of platinum and gold bearing sands , it predicts the presence of Diamant S in the Ural. Humboldt and Rose scan under the microscope each gold layer which they meet. It is the count Polier, owner of such layers, and with whom Humboldt announced his theory, which will find the first diamond of the Ural.
Forwarding crosses Siberia until the Altaï. As with its practice, Humboldt makes barometric measurements. Humboldt and its companions return after six months of forwarding, and having traversed nearly nineteen thousand kilometers. Humboldt there studied and simulated the installation of a network of magnetic and weather stations, making observations regular and functioning with identical apparatuses. It leaves the care to Rose and Ehrenberg to publish the results of forwarding. It is only into 1843 that its Central Asia in three volumes will appear.
In BerlinIn 1852, Humboldt receives the Médaille Copley of the Royal Society of London. With the accession of Frederic-Guillaume IV with the throne of Prussia, Humboldt uses its function of chamberlain and private adviser of the king for the emancipation of the Juif S and the abolition of the Servage in Prussia. The king uses it as travelling encyclopedia. The popularity of Humboldt remains large in spite of the enmities which it is made among the reactionaries mediums close to the king. In 1857, the madness which reaches the king makes it possible Humboldt to have more time for its work.
Humboldt dies of natural death the May 6th 1859 and profits from national funeral.
Contributions of Humboldt to scienceThe South American writings of Humboldt include/understand 30 volumes published over 30 years. They are composed of scientific books, atlas, treaties of geography and economy on Cuba and Mexico, an account of its voyages and a critical Examen of the history of the geography of the New Continent . Humboldt wrote its scientific writings in collaboration with other scientists. It dedicates the volume devoted to geology to his friend Goethe. During the last years of its life, Humboldt writes the Cosmos , five years result of work on the subjects presented at the time of its conferences. It described there in five volumes all knowledge of the time on the terrestrial and celestial phenomena. The goal of this work is to communicate the intellectual excitation and the practical need for the scientific research.
Humboldt forged new expressions like Isodynamique S, Isotherme S, Isocline S, Jurassic, Magnetic storm. It provided the foundations of the physical Géographie and the Géophysique, in particular of the Sismologie. It shows that there cannot be knowledge without verifiable experimentation.
It is Humboldt which draws the attention of Europeans to the mineral richness of South America.
The historical relation of the Voyage to the equinoctial areas of Humboldt will inspire by young naturalists like Darwin, Louis Agassiz and William James.
The Courant of Humboldt was named in its honor. Humboldt is in the beginning many botanical discoveries, of which the Brugmansia.
Homosexuel, it is possible that it fell in love with the botanist Aimé Bonpland, who accompanied it during his forwarding in Latin America. Havelock Elect in " The inversion sexuelle" report that Paul Näcke inquired into the case of Humboldt and drew the " from them; better bases to look at Humboldt like a inverti." Havelock Elect, heterosexual not homophobe, is on this completely impartial point. The German sexologist homosexual Magnus Hirschfeld made great case of these testimonys collected with the beginning of the year 1910 at still alive people, having known Humboldt as an actor of homosexual subculture; one of these testimonys comes from the scientist Karl Bolle, born in 1821, and itself homosexual. Humboldt reduced in ash the whole of its correspondence still deprived in its possession, with the result that before having new documents, one cannot have details as for his private life. The historians who draw from it the conclusion which the latter was non-existent disregard this loss of documents. All that one knows, in addition to testimonys evoked above, is that Humboldt remained unmarried, that he preferred, in general, the company of the men to that of the women and that he bequeathed his goods, not with members of his family, but with her trusty servant.
- Jean Théodoridès (1965). a friendship of scientists at last century: Alexander von Humboldt and Achille Valencian. medical Biology , Except series, February 1965: cxxix p.
- Daniel Kehlmann, Land-surveyors of the world , Actes Sud 2006 (original title: Die Vermessung der Welt , 2005)
Works of Humboldt digitized by the SCD of the University Louis Pasteur of Strasbourg
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