By Alexander von Humboldt
Polymath Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), a self-described 'scientific traveller', was once probably the most revered scientists of his time. Humboldt's wanderlust led him throughout Europe and to South the US, Mexico, the U.S. and Russia, and his voyages and observations ended in the invention of many species formerly unknown to Europeans. Originating as lectures brought in Berlin and Paris (1827-1828), his two-volume Cosmos: cartoon of a actual Description of the Universe (1845-1860) represented the end result of his lifelong curiosity in figuring out the actual international. As Humboldt writes, 'I ever wanted to parent actual phenomena of their widest mutual connection, and to appreciate Nature as a complete, lively and moved by way of inward forces'. quantity 2 (1848) studies poetic descriptions of nature in addition to panorama portray from antiquity via to modernity, sooner than utilizing a similar time-span to ascertain a 'History of the actual Contemplation of the Universe'.
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Extra info for Cosmos, Volume 2: Sketch of a Physical Description of the Universe
It is within these limits alone that the undertaking can harmonise with the wholly objective tendency of my mental disposition, and with the labours which have occupied my long scientific career. The unity which I seek to attain in the development of the great phenomena of GEOGRAPHY AND ASTRONOMY. 33 nature, is similar in kind to that which historical compositions may offer. All that belongs to the specialities of the actual,—to its individualities, variabilities, and accidents, whether in the form and connection of natural objects and phsenomena, or in the struggle of man with the elements, or of nations with each other,—does not admit of being rationally constructed, that is to say, of being deduced from ideas alone.
As the history of nations, if it were possible that it could always successfully trace back events to their true causes, would no doubt solve to us the ever-recurring enigma of the alternately impeded and accelerated progress of human society; so, likewise, the physical description of the universe, the science of the Cosmos, if grasped by a powerful intellect, and based on the knowledge of all that has been discovered up to a given epoch, would remove many of those apparent contradictions, which the complication of phenomena, caused by a multitude of simultaneous perturbations, presents at the first glance.
That with which we have ourselves unconsciously invested her. When far from our native country, after a long sea voyage, we tread for the first time the lands of the tropics, •we experience an impression of agreeable surprise in recognising, in the cliffs and rocks around, the same forms and substances, similar inclined strata of schistose rocks, the same columnar basalts, which we had left in Europe: this identity, in latitudes so different, reminds us that the solidification of the crust of the earth has been independent of differences of climate.