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Encyclopedia > Alexander von Humboldt
An 1859 portrait of Alexander von Humboldt by the artist Julius Schrader, showing Mount Chimborazo in the background.
An 1859 portrait of Alexander von Humboldt by the artist Julius Schrader, showing Mount Chimborazo in the background.

Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander Freiherr von Humboldt, (September 14, 1769, BerlinMay 6, 1859, Berlin), was a Prussian naturalist and explorer, and the younger brother of the Prussian minister, philosopher, and linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt. Humboldt's quantitative work on botanical geography was foundational to the field of biogeography. Between 1799 and 1804, von Humboldt travelled to South and Central America, exploring and describing it from a scientific point of view for the first time. His description of much of this journey was written up in an enormous set of volumes over a 21 year span. He was one of the first to propose that the lands bordering the Atlantic were once joined (South America and Africa in particular). Late in life, in his five-volume work Kosmos, he attempted to unify the various branches involved in knowledge of the world. Humboldt supported and worked with other scientists, among them Joseph-Louis Gay-Lussac, Justus von Liebig, Louis Agassiz, and Matthew Fontaine Maury. Download high resolution version (780x1052, 172 KB) Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Download high resolution version (780x1052, 172 KB) Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... The inactive stratovolcano Chimborazo is Ecuadors highest summit. ... Freiherr (German for Free Lord) is a title of lower nobility in Germany, the Baltic states and Austria-Hungary, considered equal to the title Baron. ... September 14 is the 257th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (258th in leap years). ... 1769 was a common year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar). ... Poor but sexy Berlin is the capital city and a state of Germany. ... May 6 is the 126th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (127th in leap years). ... 1859 (MDCCCLIX) is a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Monday of the Julian calendar). ... Coat of Arms of the Kingdom of Prussia, 1701-1918 Prussia (German: ; Latin: Borussia, Prutenia; Lithuanian: ; Polish: ; Old Prussian: PrÅ«sa) was, most recently, a historic state originating in East Prussia, an area which for centuries had substantial influence on German and European history. ... The term natural science as the way in which different fields of study are defined is determined as much by historical convention as by the present day meaning of the words. ... This list of explorers is sorted by surname. ... Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. ... Wilhelm von Humboldt Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Karl Ferdinand Freiherr von Humboldt (June 22, 1767 - April 8, 1835), government functionary, foreign diplomat, philosopher, founder of Humboldt Universität in Berlin, friend of Goethe and especially of Schiller, is especially remembered as a German linguist who introduced a knowledge of the Basque... Biogeography is the science which deals with patterns of species distribution and the processes that result in such patterns. ... Joseph-Louis Gay-Lussac (December 6, 1778–May 10, 1850) was a French chemist and physicist. ... Justus von Liebig. ... Louis Agassiz Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz (May 28, 1807-December 14, 1873) was a Swiss-born American zoologist, glaciologist, and geologist, the husband of educator Elizabeth Cabot Cary Agassiz, and one of the first world-class American scientists. ... Matthew Fontaine Maury Matthew Fontaine Maury (January 14, 1806 – February 1, 1873), USN - American astronomer, astrophysicist, oceanographer, meteorologist, cartographer, author, geologist, educator. ...

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Humboldt's life and travels

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Early life and education

Von Humboldt's father,- who was a major in the Prussian army, belonged to a prominent Pomeranian family and was rewarded for his services during the Seven Years' War with the post of Royal Chamberlain. He married Maria Elizabeth von Colomb in 1766, the widow of Baron von Hollwede, and had by her two sons, of whom the younger was Alexander. Coat of Arms of the Kingdom of Prussia, 1701-1918 Prussia (German: ; Latin: Borussia, Prutenia; Lithuanian: ; Polish: ; Old Prussian: Prūsa) was, most recently, a historic state originating in East Prussia, an area which for centuries had substantial influence on German and European history. ... Historic Pomerania (outlined in yellow) on the background of modern country borders. ... Combatants Prussia, , Great Britain, , Hanover, Hesse-Kassel, Brunswick, , Ireland, , Portugal , Austria, , France, , Russia, Saxony, , Sweden, , Spain The Seven Years War (1754 and 1756–1763), some of the theatres of which are called the Pomeranian War and the French and Indian War (see below), was a war in the mid-18th...


The childhood of Alexander von Humboldt was not a promising one as regards either health or intellect. His characteristic tastes, however, soon displayed themselves; and from his penchant for collecting and labelling plants, shells, and insects he received the playful title of "the little apothecary." The care of his education, on the unexpected death of his father in 1779, devolved upon his mother, who discharged the trust with constancy and judgment. Destined for a political career, he studied finance during six months at the University of Frankfurt (Oder); and a year later, April 25, 1789, he matriculated at Göttingen, then eminent for the lectures of CG Heyne and J. F. Blumenbach. His vast and varied powers 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). Finance studies and addresses the ways in which individuals, businesses and organizations raise, allocate and use monetary resources over time, taking into account the risks entailed in their projects. ... The front portal of the main building of the Viadrina The Viadrina celebrates the 500th anniversary of its founding in 2006 The Countess Dönhoff Building houses lecture rooms and the dining hall The south side of the main building, showing the Oderturm in the background The Audimax building, known... Frankfurt (Oder) ( Sorbian/Lusatian: Frankobord ) is a city in Brandenburg, Germany located on the Oder River, on the German-Polish border directly opposite the city of SÅ‚ubice. ... April 25 is the 115th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (116th in leap years). ... 1789 was a common year starting on Thursday (see link for calendar). ... The Georg-August University of Göttingen (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, often called the Georgia Augusta) was founded in 1734 by George II, King of Great Britain and Elector of Hanover, and opened in 1737. ... Odysseus and Euryclea, by Christian G. Heyne Christian Gottlob Heyne (25 September 1729_14 July 1812) was a German classical scholar and archaeologist. ... Johann Friedrich Blumenbach Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (May 11, 1752 - January 22, 1840) was a German physiologist and anthropologist. ... Loreley At 1,320 kilometres (820 miles) and an average discharge of more than 2,000 cubic meters per second, the Rhine (Dutch Rijn, French Rhin, German Rhein, Italian: Reno, Romansch: Rein, ) is one of the longest and most important rivers in Europe. ...


His passion for travel was confirmed by friendships formed at Göttingen with Georg Forster, Heyne's son-in-law, the distinguished companion of Captain James Cook's second voyage. Henceforth his studies and rare combination of personal talents became directed with extraordinary insight and perseverance to the purpose of preparing himself for a distinctive calling as a scientific explorer. With this view he studied commerce and foreign languages at Hamburg, geology at Freiberg under A. G. Werner, anatomy at Jena under J. C. Loder, astronomy and the use of scientific instruments under F. X. von Zach and J. G. Köhler. His researches into the vegetation of the mines of Freiberg led to the publication in 1793 of his Florae Fribergensis Specimen; and the results of a prolonged course of experiments on the phenomena of muscular irritability, then recently discovered by L. Galvani, were contained in his Versuche über die gereizte Muskel- und Nervenfaser (Berlin, 1797), enriched in the French translation with notes by Blumenbach. Portrait of Georg Forster at age 26, by J. H. W. Tischbein, 1781. ... James Cook, portrait by Nathaniel Dance, c. ... The Freiberg University of Mining and Technology (German: Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg, short TUBAF) is a small German university with about 4000 students in the city of Freiberg, Saxony. ... Abraham Gottlob Werner Abraham Gottlob Werner (1749 or 1750 - 1817), was born in Wehrau, a city in Prussian Silesia, southeastern Germany. ... Jena is a town in central Germany on the River Saale. ... Franz Xaver, Baron Von Zach Baron Franz Xaver von Zach (Franz Xaver Freiherr von Zach) (June 4, 1754 - September 2, 1832) was an Austrian astronomer born at Bratislava. ... Johann Gottfried Koehler (December 15, 1745 - September 19, 1801) was a German astronomer who discovered a number of nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies. ... Freiberg, Obermarkt square Freiberg is a city in Saxony, Germany, capital of the district Freiberg. ... Luigi Galvani Luigi Galvani (September 9, 1737–December 4, 1798) was an Italian physician and physicist who lived and died in Bologna and who discovered that muscle and nerve cells produce electricity. ...

A portrait of Humboldt by Friedrich Georg Weitsch, 1806
A portrait of Humboldt by Friedrich Georg Weitsch, 1806
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Download high resolution version (1655x2288, 643 KB) Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Download high resolution version (1655x2288, 643 KB) Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ...

Travels and work in Europe

In 1794 he was admitted to the intimacy of the famous Weimar coterie, and contributed (June 1795) to Schiller's new periodical, Die Horen, a philosophical allegory entitled Die Lebenskraft, oder der rhodische Genius. In the summer of 1790 he paid a short visit to England in company with Forster. In 1792 and 1797 he was in Vienna; in 1795 he made a geological and botanical tour through Switzerland and Italy. He had obtained in the meantime official employment: appointed 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 he not only rose rapidly to the highest post in his department, but was as well entrusted with several important diplomatic missions. The death of his mother, on 19 November 1796, set him free to follow the bent of his genius, and severing his official connections, he waited for an opportunity to fulfill his long-cherished dream of travel to distant lands. For the locality in Texas called Weimar see Weimar, Texas, there is also Weimar bei Kassel and Weimar in Marburg-Biedenkopf. ... Friedrich Schiller Schiller redirects here. ... An allegory (from Greek αλλος, allos, other, and αγορευειν, agoreuein, to speak in public) is a figurative mode of representation conveying a meaning other than (and in addition to) the literal. ... Motto: (French for God and my right) Anthem: Multiple unofficial anthems Capital London Largest city London Official language(s) English (de facto) Government Constitutional monarchy  - Queen Queen Elizabeth II  - Prime Minister Tony Blair MP Unification    - by Athelstan AD 927  Area    - Total 130,395 km² (1st in UK)   50,346 sq... Portrait of Georg Forster at age 26, by J. H. W. Tischbein, 1781. ... Inhabitants according to official census figures: 1800 to 2005 Vienna in 1858 UN complex in Vienna, with the non-affiliated Austria Center Vienna in front - picture taken from Danube Tower in nearby Danube Park. ... February 29 is the 60th day of a leap year in the Gregorian Calendar, with 306 days remaining. ... 1792 was a leap year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar). ... November 19 is the 323rd day of the year (324th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 1796 was a leap year starting on Friday. ...

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The Latin American expedition

On the postponement of Captain Baudin's proposed voyage of circumnavigation, which he had been officially invited to accompany, he left Paris for Marseille with Aimé Bonpland, the designated botanist of the frustrated expedition, hoping to join Bonaparte in Egypt. Means of transport, however, were not forthcoming, and the two travellers eventually found their way to Madrid, where the unexpected patronage of the minister Don Mariano Luis de Urquijo determined them to make Spanish America the scene of their explorations. Nicolas Baudin Nicolas-Thomas Baudin (February 17, 1754 - September 16, 1803) was a French explorer. ... To circumnavigate a place, such as an island, a continent, or the Earth, is to travel all the way around it by boat or ship. ... Part of the Paris and La Défense skylines with from left to right: Montparnasse Tower, Eiffel Tower, and La Défense towers. ... City flag Coat of arms Motto: By her great deeds, Marseille shines in the world Coordinates : Time Zone : CET (GMT +1) Administration Country France Région Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur Département Bouches-du-Rhône (13) Mayor Jean-Claude Gaudin (UMP) (since 1995) Subdivisions 16 arrondissements (in... Aimé Jacques Alexandre Bonpland (August 22, 1773 - May 4, 1858) was a French explorer and botanist. ... Of Corsican origin, the Bonaparte (originally Buonaparte) family is the family of Napoleon I, who was elected as first consul of France on November 10, 1799 with the help of his brother, Lucien Bonaparte, president of the Council of Five Hundred at Saint-Cloud. ... Location Location of Madrid in Europe Coordinates : 40° 23’N , 3°43′0″W Time Zone : CET (GMT +1) - summer: CEST (GMT +2) General information Native name Villa de Madrid (Spanish) Spanish name Villa de Madrid Founded 9th century Postal code 28001-28080 Area code 34 (Spain) + 91 (Villa de...


Armed with powerful recommendations, they sailed in the Pizarro from A Coruña, on June 5, 1799, stopped six days at Tenerife for the ascent of the Peak, and landed, on July 16, at Cumaná, Venezuela. He visited the mission at Caripe where he found the oil-bird, which he was to make known to science as steatornis caripensis. Returning Cumaná, Humboldt observed, on the night of the 11-12th of November, a remarkable meteor shower (the Leonids) which forms the starting-point of our acquaintance with the periodicity of the phenomenon. He proceeded with Bonpland to Caracas; and in February 1800 he left the coast for the purpose of exploring the course of the Orinoco River. This trip, which lasted four months, and covered 1725 miles of wild and uninhabited country, had the important result of establishing the existence of a communication between the water-systems of the Orinoco and Amazon River, and of determining the exact position of the bifurcation. Electric eels were captured by von Humboldt (with Bonpland) around March 19, 1800. The researchers received massive electric shocks during their investigations. A Coruña province Corunna (in Galician A Coruña, in Spanish La Coruña) is a province of extreme northwestern Spain, in the northwestern part of the autonomous community of Galicia. ... June 5 is the 156th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (157th in leap years), with 209 days remaining. ... 1799 was a common year starting on Tuesday (see link for calendar). ... Flag of Tenerife Tenerife (English also Teneriffe), a Spanish island, is the largest of the seven Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa. ... Teide (Mount Teide or Pico de Teide) is a volcano and mountain on Tenerife, Canary Islands (28. ... July 16 is the 197th day (198th in leap years) of the year in the Gregorian Calendar, with 168 days remaining. ... A traditional fishermans boat called Peñero at Mochimas National Park. ... Caripe is the name of a town and municipality in the mountainous north of the state of Monagas in eastern Venezuela. ... Binomial name Steatornis caripensis Humboldt, 1817 The Oilbird (Steatornis caripensis) is a slim, long-winged bird related to the nightjars. ... Leonid Meteor Shower From earliest times, humankind has noticed flurries of meteors that seemed to emanate from particular points in the sky at particular times of the year. ... 1966 Leonid Meteor Shower The Leonids are a prolific meteor shower associated with the comet Tempel-Tuttle. ... City motto: Ave María Santísima, sin pecado concebida, en el primer instante de su ser natural. ... This page is about the Orinoco River, for the Aphra Behn novel see Oroonoko With a length of 2140 km, the Orinoco is one of the largest rivers of South America. ... The Casiquiare is a distributary of the upper Orinoco, which flows southward into the Rio Negro. ... A satellite image of the mouth of the Amazon River, looking south The Amazon River or River Amazon; Spanish: Río Amazonas, Portuguese: Rio Amazonas) of South America is the second largest, most voluminous river on earth, having a greater total flow than the next six largest rivers combined. ... The noun bifurcation (from latin bifurcare, to split (fork) into two), has several related meanings. ... Binomial name Electrophorus electricus Linnaeus, 1766 The electric eel (Electrophorus electricus) is a species of fish. ... March 19 is the 78th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (79th in leap years). ... 1800 (MDCCC) was an exceptional common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar, but a leap year starting on Sunday of the Julian calendar. ...


On November 24, the two friends set sail for Cuba, and after a stay of some months regained the mainland at Cartagena. Ascending the swollen stream of the Magdalena, and crossing the frozen ridges of the Cordillera Real, they reached Quito after a tedious and difficult journey on January 6, 1802. Their stay there was marked by the ascent of Pichincha and Chimborazo. Humboldt and his party reached an altitude of 19,286 feet, a world record at the time. The journey concluded with an expedition to the sources of the Amazon en route for Lima. At Callao, Humboldt observed the transit of Mercury on November 9, and studied the fertilizing properties of guano, the introduction of which into Europe was mainly due to his writings. A tempestuous sea-voyage brought them to Mexico, where they resided for a year, followed by a short visit to the United States of America, they set sail for Europe from the mouth of the Delaware, and landed at Bordeaux on August 3, 1804. November 24 is the 328th day (329th on leap years) of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... For other places of the same name, see Cartagena Cartagena (pronounced kärtä-hÄ•nä), formally known as Cartagena de Indias (Cartagena of Indies) or Cartagena la Heroica (The Heroic), is a large seaport on the north coast of Colombia. ... Magdalena River - Wikipedia /**/ @import /skins-1. ... The Cordillera Real (also Cordillera of Quito, Cordillera Central of Ecuador) is a chain of mountains in the Andes of Ecuador, the chief of them volcanic. ... Quito (official name: San Francisco de Quito) is the capital city of Ecuador in northwestern South America. ... January 6 is the 6th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... --69. ... Pichincha is an active volcano in the country of Ecuador whose capital Quito wraps around its eastern slopes. ... The inactive stratovolcano Chimborazo is Ecuadors highest summit. ... This article is about Lima, Peru. ... Callao (Spanish: El Callao) is the largest and most important port in Peru. ... 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. ... November 9 is the 313th day of the year (314th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 52 days remaining. ... The Chincha guano islands in Peru. ... The Delaware River is a river on the Atlantic coast of the United States. ... New city flag (traditional tri-crescent) City coat of arms Motto: The fleur-de-lis alone rules over the moon, the waves, the castle, and the lion Coordinates : , Time Zone : CET (GMT +1) Administration Département Gironde (33) Région Aquitaine Mayor Hugues Martin (UMP) (since 2004) Intercommunality Urban Community... August 3 is the 215th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (216th in leap years), with 150 days remaining. ... 1804 was a leap year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar). ...

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Achievements of the Latin American expedition

An 1815 self-portrait of Humboldt
Enlarge
An 1815 self-portrait of Humboldt

Humboldt may justly be regarded as having in this memorable expedition laid the foundation in their larger bearings of the sciences of physical geography and meteorology. 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 increase of elevation above the sealevel, and afforded, by his inquiries into 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 from the poles to the equator was communicated to the Paris Institute in a memoir read by him on the 7 December 1804, and its importance was attested by the speedy emergence of rival claims. His services to geology were mainly based on his attentive study of the volcanoes of the New World. He showed that they fell naturally into linear groups, presumably corresponding with vast subterranean fissures; and by his demonstration of the igneous origin of rocks previously held to be of aqueous formation, he contributed largely to the elimination of erroneous views. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (2809x3661, 3676 KB) Alexander von Humboldt, Selbstportrait in Paris, 1814 Source: scanned by User:Avatar. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (2809x3661, 3676 KB) Alexander von Humboldt, Selbstportrait in Paris, 1814 Source: scanned by User:Avatar. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Current (I) flowing through a wire produces a magnetic field (B) around the wire. ... December 7 is the 341st day (342nd in leap years) of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1804 was a leap year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar). ... For other meanings, see Eruption (disambiguation). ... Carte dAmérique, Guillaume Delisle, c. ... Volcanic rock on North America Plutonic rock on North America Igneous rocks are formed when molten rock (magma) cools and solidifies, with or without crystallization, either below the surface as intrusive (plutonic) rocks or on the surface as extrusive (volcanic) rocks. ...


The reduction into form and publication of the encyclopaedic mass of materials - scientific, political and archaeological - collected by him during his absence from Europe was now Humboldt's most urgent desire. After a short trip to Italy with Gay-Lussac for the purpose of investigating the law of magnetic declination, and a sojourn of two years and a half 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 have occupied but two years, eventually cost him twenty-one, and even then remained incomplete. In these early years in Paris, he shared accommodation and laboratory with his first rival now friend, Joseph-Louis Gay-Lussac, both together working on gas analyses and the composition of the atmosphere. Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac. ... The magnetic declination (or magnetic variation) at any point on the earth is a property of the geomagnetic field defined as the angle that must be added or subtracted in converting between two kinds of directional information: the direction of the needle on a magnetic compass located there, and the... Joseph-Louis Gay-Lussac (December 6, 1778–May 10, 1850) was a French chemist and physicist. ...

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Humboldt acclaimed

With the exception of Napoleon Bonaparte, Humboldt was now the most famous man in Europe. A chorus of applause greeted him from every side. Academies, both native and foreign, were eager to enroll him among their members. Frederick William III of Prussia conferred upon him the honour, without exacting the duties, attached to the post of royal chamberlain, together with a pension of 2,500 thalers, 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. Again in the autumn of 1822 he accompanied the same monarch to the congress of Verona, proceeded thence with the royal party to Rome and Naples, and returned to Paris in the spring of 1823. Bonaparte as general Napoleon Bonaparte ( 15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a general of the French Revolution and was the ruler of France as First Consul (Premier Consul) of the French Republic from November 11, 1799 to May 18, 1804, then as Emperor of the French (Empereur des... Frederick William III Frederick William III, known in German as Friedrich Wilhelm III, reigned as king of Prussia from 1797 to 1840. ... Examples of German and Austrian Thalers compared to a US quarter piece The Thaler (or Taler) was a silver coin used throughout Europe for almost four hundred years. ... 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... The Congress of Verona was the last of the series of international conferences or congresses that opened with the Congress of Vienna in 1815, during which the Quadruple Alliance of the United Kingdom and the European powers had at first acted largely in concert. ...

Five-mark banknote from East Germany of 1964 showing Humboldt
Five-mark banknote from East Germany of 1964 showing Humboldt

The French capital he had long regarded 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 salons and as the savant of the institute and the observatory. 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. 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 and Berlin. On 12 May 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 storms" a term invented by him to designate abnormal disturbances of Earth's magnetism. The meeting at Berlin, on 18 September 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; while his letter to the Duke of Sussex, then (April 1836) president of the Royal Society, secured for the undertaking the wide basis of the British dominions. Thus that scientific conspiracy of nations which is one of the noblest fruits of modern civilization was by his exertions first successfully organized. Image File history File links Humboldt on 5 Mark GDR File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... ISO 4217 Code DDM User(s) German Democratic Republic Pegged with Deutsche Mark = M11 Subunit 1/100 pfennig Symbol M Plural Mark pfennig Pfennig Coins Freq. ... A £20 Ulster Bank banknote. ... GDR redirects here. ... The Spree (Slavic Špreva or Špreja, older form Sprevja, Sorbish Sprowja) is a river in Saxony, Brandenburg and Berlin, Germany. ... May 12 is the 132nd day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (133rd in leap years). ... Naval Battle of Navarino by Carneray 1827 was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ... A Magnetic storm is also known as a geomagnetic storm. ... The magnetosphere shields the surface of the Earth from the charged particles of the solar wind. ... September 18 is the 261st day of the year (262nd in leap years). ... 1828 was a leap year starting on Tuesday (see link for calendar). ... Portrait of Prince Augustus Frederick by Louis Gauffier Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex (27 January 1773 – 21 April 1843), was the sixth son of King George III of the United Kingdom and his consort, Queen Charlotte. ... The premises of the Royal Society in London (first four properties only). ... The British Empire in 1897, marked in pink, the traditional colour for Imperial British dominions on maps. ...

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Explorations in Russia

In 1811, and again in 1818, projects of Asiatic exploration were proposed to Humboldt, first by the Russian, and afterwards by the Prussian government; but on each occasion untoward circumstances interposed, and it was not until he had entered upon his sixtieth year that he resumed his early role of a 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 9,614 miles. 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. Its most important fruits were 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. World map showing the location of Asia. ... Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg (April 19, 1795 – June 27, 1876), German naturalist, zoologist, comparative anatomist and microscopist, was one of the most famous and productive scientists of his time. ... A mile is the name of a unit of length, usually used to measure distance, in a number of different systems, including English units, Imperial units, and United States customary units. ...

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Humboldt as diplomat

Between 1830 and 1848 von Humboldt was frequently employed in diplomatic missions to the court of Louis Philippe, with whom he always maintained the most cordial personal relations. Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix commemorates the July Revolution 1830 was a common year starting on Friday (see link for calendar). ... 1848 is a leap year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... King Louis-Philippe Louis-Philippe of France (October 6, 1773 – August 26, 1850) reigned as the Orléanist king of the French from 1830 to 1848. ...


His brother Wilhelm von Humboldt died in Alexander's arms on 8 April 1836. The death saddened the later years of his life; Alexander lamented that he had "lost half of my self" in the death of his brother. Wilhelm von Humboldt Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Karl Ferdinand Freiherr von Humboldt (June 22, 1767 - April 8, 1835), government functionary, foreign diplomat, philosopher, founder of Humboldt Universität in Berlin, friend of Goethe and especially of Schiller, is especially remembered as a German linguist who introduced a knowledge of the Basque... April 8 is the 98th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (99th in leap years). ... Charles Darwin 1836 was a leap year starting on Friday (see link for calendar). ...


Upon the accession of the crown prince Frederick William IV in June 1840 von Humboldt's favour at court increased. Indeed, the new king's craving for von Humboldt's company became at times so importunate as to leave him only a few hours aside from sleep to work on his writing. Photograph of Frederick King Frederick William IV of Prussia (October 15, 1795 - January 2, 1861), the eldest son and successor of Frederick William III of Prussia, reigned as King of Prussia from 1840 to 1861. ... 1840 is a leap year starting on Wednesday (link will take you to calendar). ...

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The "Cosmos"

Statue of Alexander von Humboldt outside Humboldt University, Unter den Linden, Berlin. Note the Spanish inscription describing him as "the second discoverer of Cuba."
Statue of Alexander von Humboldt outside Humboldt University, Unter den Linden, Berlin. Note the Spanish inscription describing him as "the second discoverer of Cuba."

It is not often that a man postpones to his seventy-sixth year, and then successfully executes, the crowning task of his life. Yet this was Humboldt's case. The first two volumes of the Cosmos were published, and in the main composed, between the years 1845 and 1847. The idea of a work which should convey not only a graphic description, but an imaginative conception of the physical world which should support generalization by details, and dignify details by generalization, had floated before his mind for more than half a century. It first took definite shape in a set of lectures delivered by him before the University of Berlin in the winter of 1827–1828. These lectures formed, as his latest biographer expresses it, "the cartoon for the great fresco of the Kosmos." The scope of this remarkable work may be briefly described as the representation of the unity amid the complexity of nature. In it the large and vague ideals of the 18th are sought to be combined with the exact scientific requirements of the 19th century. And, in spite of inevitable shortcomings, the attempt was in an eminent degree successful. A certain heaviness of style, too, and laborious picturesqueness of treatment make it more imposing than attractive to the general reader. But its supreme and abiding value consists in its faithful reflection of the mind of a great man. No higher eulogium can be passed on Alexander von Humboldt than that, in attempting, and not unworthily attempting, to portray the universe, he succeeded still more perfectly in portraying his own comprehensive intelligence. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (796x1255, 160 KB) Summary Photo by User:Adam Carr, May 2006 Licensing I, the creator of this work, hereby release it into the public domain. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (796x1255, 160 KB) Summary Photo by User:Adam Carr, May 2006 Licensing I, the creator of this work, hereby release it into the public domain. ... Alternative meaning: Humboldt State University, located in Arcata, California Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin The Humboldt University of Berlin (German Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) is the successor to Berlins oldest university, the Friedrich Wilhelm University (Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität), founded in 1810 by the liberal Prussian educational reformer... A public lecture is one means employed for educating the public in the sciences and medicine. ... Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin The Humboldt University of Berlin (German Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) is Berlins oldest university, founded in 1810 as the University of Berlin (Universität zu Berlin) by the liberal Prussian educational reformer and linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt whose university model has strongly influenced... The deepest visible-light image of the cosmos, the Hubble Ultra Deep Field. ...


The last decade of his long life — his "improbable" years, as he was accustomed to call them — was devoted to the continuation of this work, of which the third and fourth volumes were published in 1850–1858, while a fragment of a fifth appeared posthumously in 1862. In these he sought to fill up what was wanting of detail as to individual branches of science in the sweeping survey contained 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 encyclopaedia 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 the thoughts and availing himself of the co-operation of others. He was not more ready to incur than to acknowledge obligations. The notes to Kosmos overflow with laudatory citations, the current coin in which he discharged his intellectual debts.

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Illness and death

On February 24, 1857 Humboldt suffered a minor apoplectic stroke, which passed without perceptible symptoms. It was not until the winter of 1858–1859 that his strength began to decline, and that spring on 6 May he died quietly 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, 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 14 September 1869 with great enthusiasm in both the New and Old Worlds. Numerous monuments erected in his honour, and newly explored regions named after Alexander von Humboldt, bear witness to his wide fame and popularity. February 24 is the 55th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 1857 was a common year starting on Thursday (see link for calendar). ... May 6 is the 126th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (127th in leap years). ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Berlin-Tegel. ... September 14 is the 257th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (258th in leap years). ... 1869 (MDCCCLXIX) is a common year starting on Friday (link will take you to calendar) of the Gregorian calendar or a common year starting on Sunday of the 12-day-slower Julian calendar. ...

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Personal life

Much of Humboldt's private life remains a mystery because he destroyed his private letters. However, in 1908 the sexual researcher Paul Näcke, who worked with Magnus Hirschfeld, gathered reminiscences of him from people who recalled his participation in the homosexual subculture of Berlin.[1] Throughout his life he formed strong emotional attachments to men, never marrying or becoming emotionally involved with any woman. He was strongly attached to his brother's family; and in his later years the somewhat arbitrary sway of an old and faithful servant held him in more than matrimonial bondage. By a singular example of generosity (or some people would say weakness), he executed, four years before his death, a deed of gift transferring to this man Seifert the absolute possession of his entire property. No undue advantage appears to have been taken of this extraordinary concession. Of the qualities of his heart it is less easy to speak than of those of his head. Magnus Hirschfeld Magnus Hirschfeld (Kolberg, May 14, 1868 - Nice, May 14, 1935) was a prominent German physician, sexologist, and gay rights advocate. ...


The clue to his inner life might well be found in a certain egotism of self-culture scarcely separable from the promptings of genius. Yet his attachments, once formed, were sincere and lasting. He made innumerable friends; and it does not stand on record that he ever lost one. His benevolence was throughout his life active and disinterested. His early zeal for the improvement of the condition of the miners in Galicia and Franconia, his consistent detestation of slavery, his earnest patronage of rising men of science, bear witness to the large humanity which formed the ground-work of his character. Coat-of-arms of Galicia Galicia is a historical region currently split between Poland and Ukraine. ... The Franconian Rake is originally is a heraldic symbol of the bishops of Würzburg, who - though nominally Dukes of Franconia - only ruled in parts of Franconia. ...


The faults of his old age have been brought into undue prominence by the injudicious publication of his letters to Varnhagen von Ense. The chief of these was his habit of smooth speaking, almost amounting to flattery, which formed a painful contrast with the caustic sarcasm of his confidential utterances. His vanity, at all times conspicuous, was tempered by his sense of humour, and was so frankly avowed as to invite sympathy rather than provoke ridicule. After every deduction has been made, he yet stands before us as a colossal figure, not unworthy to take his place beside Goethe as the representative of the scientific side of the culture of his country. Karl August Varnhagen von Ense (February 21, 1785 - 1858), German biographer. ... Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (pronounced [gø tə]) (August 28, 1749–March 22, 1832) was a German writer, politician, humanist, scientist, and philosopher. ...

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Honors and namesakes

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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: // Humboldt can refer to: Alexander von Humboldt, a German natural scientist Wilhelm von Humboldt (his brother), a linguist, philosopher, and diplomat Or any of the many things named for them: Named for Alexander von Humboldt Places in California, U.S. Humboldt Bay in California Humboldt County, California Humboldt Hill Humboldt...

  • Spheniscus humboldti — Humboldt penguin
  • Lilium humboldtii — Humboldt's lily
  • Phragmipedium humboldtii — an orchid
  • Quercus humboldtii — South American Oak
  • Conepatus humboldtii — Humboldt's Hog-nosed Skunk
  • Annona humboldtii — Neotropical tree or shrub
  • Annona humboldtiana — Neotropical tree or shrub
  • Utricularia humboldtii — a bladderwort
  • Geranium humboldtii — a cranebill
  • Salix humboldtiana — a South-American willow. http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=SAHU

Features named after him include the following: Binomial name Spheniscus humboldti Meyen, 1834 The Humboldt Penguin (Spheniscus humboldti) is a South American penguin, breeding in coastal Peru and Chile. ... Binomial name Lilium humboldtii Roezl and Leichtlin Botanical description Lilium humboldtii is less than 3 m tall. ...

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Humboldt Bay is located in Humboldt County along the rugged north coast of California, United States. ... ... The Humboldt River is a river in northern Nevada in the United States, approximately 300 mi (483 km). ... The East Humboldt Range is a mountain range of the Great Basin in northeastern Nevada in the United States. ... The West Humboldt Range is a short mountain range in the western Great Basin in northwestern Nevada in the United States. ... Caripe is the name of a town and municipality in the mountainous north of the state of Monagas in eastern Venezuela. ...

Places named after Humboldt

The following places are named for Humboldt:

The Mare Humboldtianum lunar mare is named after him, as is the asteroid 54 Alexandra. Humboldt County is a county located on the northwest coast of the U.S. state of California, on the Pacific Ocean. ... Humboldt County is a county located in the state of Nevada. ... Humboldt County is a county located in the state of Iowa. ... Location of Humboldt, Saskatchewan Humboldt is a small Saskatchewan city located 113 km east of Saskatoon. ... Humboldt Park is located on the northwest side of Chicago, Illinois. ... Mare Humboldtianum (Latin for sea of Alexander von Humboldt) is a lunar mare located within the Humboldtianum basin, just to the east of Mare Frigoris. ... A map showing the location of Mare Imbrium The Lunar maria (singular: mare, pronounced MAH-ray) are large, dark, basaltic plains on Earths Moon, formed by ancient basaltic flood eruptions caused by extremely large meteoroid impacts. ... An asteroid is a predominantly rocky body that orbits around its star. ... 54 Alexandra is a very large and dark main belt asteroid. ...


The Humboldt Tropical Medicine Institute at Cayetano Heredia University, Lima, Peru, was named after Alexander von Humboldt, as well as Humboldt State University in Arcata, California. Several German schools (including Humboldt University of Berlin) are named after Alexander's brother Wilhelm. Lima is the capital and largest city in Peru, as well as the capital of Lima Province. ... This article is about Humboldt State University in California. ... Arcata, California Arcata is a city, adjacent to Humboldt Bay, in Humboldt County, California, United States. ... Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin The Humboldt University of Berlin (German Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) is Berlins oldest university, founded in 1810 as the University of Berlin (Universität zu Berlin) by the liberal Prussian educational reformer and linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt whose university model has strongly influenced... Wilhelm von Humboldt Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Karl Ferdinand Freiherr von Humboldt (June 22, 1767 - April 8, 1835), government functionary, foreign diplomat, philosopher, founder of Humboldt Universität in Berlin, friend of Goethe and especially of Schiller, is especially remembered as a German linguist who introduced a knowledge of the Basque...

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The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

After his death, his friends and colleagues created the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (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 and plays an important role in attracting foreign researchers to work in Germany and enabling German researchers to work abroad for a period. Certain figures in this article use scientific notation for readability. ... This article is becoming very long. ...

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Dedications and recognitions

Edgar Allan Poe dedicated his last great 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. Hello Steve. ... Eureka is a prose poem by Edgar Allan Poe from (1848) in which he describes his illumination about the universe. ...


Charles Darwin makes frequent reference to Humboldt's work in his Voyage of the Beagle, where Darwin describes his own scientific exploration of the Americas. Charles Robert Darwin (12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an English naturalist who achieved lasting fame by producing considerable evidence that species originated through evolutionary change, at the same time proposing the scientific theory that natural selection is the mechanism by which such change occurs. ... HMS Beagle, from an 1841 watercolour by Owen Stanley The Voyage of the Beagle is a title commonly given to the book written by Charles Darwin published in 1839 as his Journal and Remarks, which brought him considerable fame and respect. ...

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Publications

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Biographies and other works

A good biography of Humboldt is that of Professor Karl Bruhns (3 vols., 8vo, Leipzig, 1872), translated into English by the Misses Lasseil in 1873. A good 1852 biography, 'Lives of the Brothers Humboldt' is freely available (see external links below).


Brief accounts of his career are given by A. Dove in Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, and by S. Gunther in Alexander von Humboldt (Berlin, 1900). Le voyage aux régions equinoxiales du Nouveau Continent, fait en 1799-1804, par Alexandre de Humboldt el 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); and Relation historique (1814-1825), an unfinished narrative of his travels, including the Essai politique sur l'île de Cuba. Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB) is one of the most important and most comprehensive biographical reference works in german language. ...


The Nova genera et species plantarum (7 vols. folio, 181 5?1825), containing descriptions of above 4500 species of plants collected by Humboldt and Bonpland, was mainly compiled by Carl Sigismund Kunth; 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. Carl Sigismund Kunth (1788-1850) was a German botanist. ...


Humboldt's effect on American scientists and environmentalists (Clarence King, Jeremiah N. Reynolds, George Wallace Melville, and John Muir) is examined in The Humboldt Current: Nineteenth Century Exploration and the Roots of American Environmentalism, by Aaron Sachs (Viking, 2006). Categories: Stub | 1842 births | 1901 deaths | Climbers | Geologists | Sierra Nevada ... Jeremiah N. Reynolds (1799-1858), also known as J.N. Reynolds, was an American newspaper editor, lecturer, explorer, author became an influential advocate for scientific expeditions. ... George Wallace Melville (10 January 1841 – 17 March 1912) was an engineer of the United States Navy. ... John Muir (1838-1914) John Muir appears on the California quarter John Muir (April 21, 1838 – December 24, 1914) was one of the earliest modern preservationists. ...

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Humboldt's correspondence

Since his death considerable portions of his correspondence have been made public. The first of these, in order both of time and of importance, is his Briefe an Varnhagen von Enze (Leipzig, 1860) This was followed in rapid succession by Briefwechsel mit einem jungen Freunde (Friedrich Althaus, Berlin, 1861); Briefwechsel mit Heinrich Berghaus (~ vols., Jena, 1863); Correspondance scientifique e littéraire (2 vols., Paris, 1865?1869); Lettres à Marc-Aug. Pictet, published in Le Globe, tome vii. (Geneva, 1868); Briefe an Bunsen (Leipzig, 1869); Briefe zwischen Humboldt und Gauss (1877); Briefe an seinen Bruder Wilhelm (Stuttgart, 1880); Jugendbriefe an W. G. Wegener (Leipzig, 1896); besides some other collections of less note. An octavo edition of Humboldt's principal works was published in Paris by Tb. Morgand (1864?1866). See also, Karl von Baer, Bulletin de l'acad. des sciences de St-Pétersbourg, xvii. 529 (1859); R. Murchison, Proceedings, Geog. Society of London, vi. (1859); L. Agassiz, American Jour. of Science, xxviii. 96 (1859); Proc. Roy. Society, X. xxxix.; A. Quetelet, Annuaire de l'acad. des sciences (Brussels, 1860), p. 97; J. Mädler, Geschichte der Himmelskunde, ii. 113; J.C.Houzeau, Bibl. astronomique, ii. 168. (A. M. C.)

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See also

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This list of explorers is sorted by surname. ... Ernst Haeckel coined the term oekologie in 1866. ... The history of biology dates as far back as the rise of various civilization as classic philosophers did their own ways of biology as a system of understanding life. ...

References

  • Sachs, Aaron. The Humboldt Current: Nineteenth-Century Exploration and the Roots of American Environmentalism, (Viking; 496 pages; 2006). A study of the Prussian naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) that examines his influence on four American explorers, Clarence King, George Wallace Melville, John Muir, and J.N. Reynolds, as well as on such writers as Emerson, Poe, Thoreau, and Whitman.
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Notes

  1. ^ Havelock Henry Ellis (1927). "Sexual Inversion". Studies in the Psychology of Sex 2: 39.
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External links

This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain. Project Gutenberg (often abbreviated as PG) is a volunteer effort to digitize, archive, and distribute cultural works. ... The original Wikisource logo. ... Image File history File links Commons-logo. ... Wikimedia Commons logo by Reid Beels The Wikimedia Commons (also called Commons or Wikicommons) is a repository of free content images, sound and other multimedia files. ... BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station which broadcasts a wide variety of chiefly spoken-word programmes including news, drama, comedy, science and history. ... Encyclopædia Britannica, the 11th edition The Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition (1910–1911) is perhaps the most famous edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. ... The public domain comprises the body of all creative works and other knowledge—writing, artwork, music, science, inventions, and others—in which no person or organization has any proprietary interest. ...


  Results from FactBites:
 
Alexander von Humboldt - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (3837 words)
Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander Freiherr von Humboldt, (September 14, 1769, Berlin – May 6, 1859, Berlin), was a Prussian naturalist and explorer, and the younger brother of the Prussian minister, philosopher, and linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt.
Von Humboldt's father, who was a major in the Prussian army, belonged to a prominent Pomeranian family and was rewarded for his services during the Seven Years' War with the post of Royal Chamberlain.
Humboldt may justly be regarded as having in this memorable expedition laid the foundation in their larger bearings of the sciences of physical geography and meteorology.
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