Science

Alexander Von Humboldt

Alexander Von Humboldt biography
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Alexander Von Humboldt biography

The 14 of September of 1769 was born, in a noble family of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander Freiherr von Humboldt, known like Alexander de Humboldt or Alexander von Humboldt, recognized at that time like “the Shakespeare of science” and as the most famous man on the planet after Napoleon. Today we call him “the father of universal modern geography.”

From an early age, he showed signs of an insatiable curiosity, which led him to form intellectually in Berlin, Gontinga, and Frankfurt del Older. Interested in all aspects, in his adolescence, he leaned towards the military career, but his family separated him from that job, directing him to other places. His first trip was in 1790, where he passed through the Rhine River to the Netherlands and then to England. From this trip, he had the dream of touring other continents. When he returned to his country, the whole continent was shaken by the death throes of the French Revolution, which reinforced his liberal ideas.

After studying at the Mining School of Freiberg and working for the government as Superintendent of Mines, he published his first work on Underground Flower; and began to collect flora. Although in 1796 he resigned his position and immersed himself in his scientific curiosity, for he inherited his mother’s fortune. Thus he began to elbow with great intellectual and literary personalities such as Friedrich Schiller and Wolfgang von Goethe.

“There are no inferior races; all of them are destined to achieve freedom” Alexander von Humboldt

During this time he did not abandon his dreams of traveling. And although he planned to go to Africa, he ended up exploring South America and Central America in 1799. He had decided it while studying astronomy in France and knew great botanists such as Aimé Bonpland with whom he undertook the trips. His trip can be divided into three stages: first from Caracas, starting from Cumaná to the sources of the Orinoco; then, from Bogotá to Quito; and, finally, by the Spanish colonies in Mexico. Thus he managed to gather a large amount of atmospheric, geological and flora and fauna data of the region, which led to the first national census in New Spain and to call it “the horn of plenty.” All this material was compiled in five volumes entitled “Journey to the equinoctial regions of the New Continent” which stand out for their novel methods of representation and comparison, as well as their conclusions in relation to the earth’s crust and volcanism.

In these trips, Alexander von Humboldt met very important figures. In Santa Fe de Bogotá, for example, he met with José Celestino Mutis. Then he traveled to the United States, where he was the guest of President Thomas Jefferson, a great enthusiast of geographical studies; although it is suspected the use of Humboldt’s knowledge to think about the appropriation of Mexican territory and riches.

Upon returning to Paris he met Simon Bolivar, who would remember him as “the scientific discoverer of the New World, whose study had given America something better than all the conquerors together.” Which accounted for the great work of recognition of this new and mysterious continent.

In 1827 he returned to Berlin, where he had a great impact on the recovery of the academic community after the three conflicting decades. And still interested in discovering and under the orders of the king, he traveled through Asian Russia.

Thus, he worked hard for science throughout his life and used his fortune for his travels, publications and to motivate new scientists. His work did not stop in the recognition of the New World, but during the last twenty-five years of his life he focused on the writing of Cosmos, a great task that was aimed at the global vision of the universe, creating the need for rigorous scientific research by gathering all the knowledge of his time about terrestrial and celestial phenomena. From this company, he published five volumes.

Nowadays, Alexander von Humboldt is characterized by his insatiable curiosity since he was a humanist, astronomer, naturalist, geographer, and explorer. Therefore, he was considered one of the last great enlightened, being a polymath who tried to discover and know disparate fields but indispensable for a constant appreciation of the world.

With 89 years, member of 13 academic societies, 29 distinctions that vary from the order of imperial merit to the Copley medal. His considerable work consists of five volumes of his trip to America, some volumes of Cosmos, Letters of Travel, American Letters and many other texts that comprise thirty separate volumes, published in thirty years, composed at the same time of atlases, treatises, narratives and even a critical examination of the history of the geography of the new continent. He was a precursor even in his books since he used images to show fundamental elements (not illustrations) based on in their own drawings. He even devoted a volume of geology to his friend Goethe.

After having spent his fortune on science and his curiosity, and without having had a descendant, on May 6, 1859, Alexander von Humboldt died and his remains were buried in the pantheon of Tegel (Berlin).

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