German Geographer Alexander Humboldt A Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

..traveler, naturalist, geologist and is famous for his works entitled as follows:

1) 1805-14 Maps in Voyage de Humboldt et Bonpland Numerous re-issues;

2) 1811-1-2 Atlas Gegographique et Phisique de Royaume de Ia Nouvel/e Espagn; 3) 1814-34 Atlas du Nouz'eau Continent (Barrister, 2007)

Barrister additionally relates that nearing the end of the century approximately between 1799 and 1804, "the German naturalist and traveler, Alexander von Humboldt, made epic journeys in South American and, although not primarily a cartographer, he added immensely to knowledge of the northern areas of the continent. His travels and studies there led him to formulate new theories in the spheres of meteorology, geology and oceanography which had world-wide application. Indeed, after Napoleon and Wellington, he was the most famous man of his time in Europe and his ideas made a major contribution to German and European cartography in the nineteenth century. In particular, his assertion that maps should embrace far more than a simple topographical view induced German cartographers to publish 'physical' atlases in the modern sense which were unsurpassed until our own times." (Barrister, 2007) Noted by Barrister as having been greatly influenced by Humboldt was Heinrich Berghaus 1979-1884 who was founder of a School of Geography at Potsdam "where he came into contact with, and was much influenced by Alexander von Humboldt, whose ideas of physical geography were incorporated in a Physikalischer at/as issued in sections over the years 1837-48. This was an important and influential work on the subject with a very wide international circulation." (Koelhepp, 2007)

The Humboldt Education website stated that von Humboldt was once described as: "...the last scholar in the field of the natural sciences. Naturalist, botanist, zoologist, author, cartographer, artist and sociologist-- but a few of the many talents possessed by this great explorer. Alexander von Humboldt's influence is apparent throughout the world; incredibly enough, more so throughout the Americas than in Germany itself. In Germany, Alexander von Humboldt is commemorated in a few places; most notably, in front of the Humboldt University in Berlin, and on the Humboldt grave in Tegel. In the Americas, however, Humboldt's influence is much more prevalent. Commemorative plaques can be found throughout South America-- even in areas to which he had never traveled. Venezuelan schoolchildren know of "Alejandro de Humboldt," who "named all [their] flowers and stones." (Kohlhepp, 2007)

The impact of Humboldt was enormous especially when considering the short duration of his expedition, a mere five years. Alexander von Humboldt stayed in the United States only once during a six-week stay as a guest of Thomas Jefferson in Washing however the impact of Humboldt has not been missed anywhere in North America. There are approximately eight townships in North America named for Humboldt and three states have Humboldt counties and as well there is a Humboldt Bay, Humboldt Range, Humboldt River, Humboldt Reservoir, Humboldt was more than only a scientist and was an individual that enabled the special and indelible character in the perspective lent to Americans through his drive for knowledge and his work in discovery.

The work of Eberhard Knobloch entitled: "Alexander von Humboldt - the Explorer and the Scientist" states that on the 5th of June, 1799, Alexander von Humboldt, explorer and scientist, left La Coruna in Spain to go to Cumana, Venezuela. On 3 August 1804, he arrived again in Bordeaux, France. This article deals with five aspects of this famous journey: the itinerary of the American journey; scientific aims: Humboldt's journeys and scientific activities were two sides of the same coin; methodology: Humboldt explained in detail his positivistic scientific methodology in his treatise on the isothermal lines and the distribution of heat on the earth (1817); achievements and results: the old Humboldt claimed only three merits: the geography of plants, the theory of isothermal lines, and geomagnetism; the isotherms as a case study: Humboldt spoke at great length about errors, limits, and advantages of the method of mean values." (2007)

The following illustration is the Map of botanical geography of Humboldt and colleagues.



Humboldt's work entitled: "Kosmos" and comprised five volumes is joined by other works such as Alexander Keith Johnston's "Physical Atlas" (Edinburgh, 1848) and the English adaptation of the Berghaus atlas and Trau Traugott Broome's Atlas zu Alex. v. Humboldt's Kosmos [Stuttgart, 1851-1853] as cited in Barrister (2007) the '"

Map of botanical geography' is derived from the work of German geographer Alexander von Humboldt and Danish botanist Joakim Frederik Schouw, is from Heinrich Berghaus's three-volume Physikalischer Atlas (Gotha, 1845), the first atlas to portray the physical geography of the world. Consisting of some ninety maps, the atlas is divided into eight sections: meteorology and climatology, hydrology and hydrography, geology, earth magnetism, botanical geography, zoological geography, anthropogeography, and ethnography." (Barrister, 2007)

One of the studies of Humboldt included that of the Basques who lived on the borders of France and Spain and who "have their own character and outlook, different from the French and the Spanish. The gangue is different in words, formation and intonation, with the place names that sound very strange, almost all of them deriving from their ancient roots. The Basques are as lively and affable as one could imagine, and they will often dance and play music even after the hardest day's work. Travelers cannot fail to note the difference between the cheerful serenity of the Basques and the seriousness of the Castilians, their neighbors." (Fredrich Heinrich Alexander Humboldt, 1769-1859)

Kohlhepp states of the expeditions of Humboldt that:

The determinations of altitude and the astronomic determination of location as well as trigonometric measurements formed the basis for Humboldt's mapping of reality, but they were also the means for a spatial comparison of certain natural and human phenomena. His work on the altitudinal zonation of vegetation in the Andes - using the innertropical Ecuador as example - was groundbreaking. With his "tableau physique" he created a three-dimensional representation of climatic and vegetation zones, habitat boundaries of the animal world and the economic use in the shape of landscape profiles. In his work on Mexico (1811) he for the first time used the terms - still valid today - tierra caliente, tierra templada, and tierra fr'a for the vertical differentiation of climatic and vegetation zones as well as for types of cultural landscapes. In their research Troll (1959b, 1969) and later also Lauer (1975) have further analyzed this zoning and the daytime climate of tropical mountain ranges, and they have, with the help of thermoisopleth diagrams, worked out the contrast between the climate of tropical high mountains ("cold" tropics) and the moderate and cold climates of higher latitudes, as already had been stated by Humboldt." (Kohlhepp, 2007)

Humboldt's publication has influenced German natural scientists including zoologists, botanists, geologiest, geographers, and ethnologists..." (Kohlhepp, 2007) the scientific reputation of Alexander von Humboldt has been globally associated with the expeditions he made to the topics of the New World. Humboldt is considered within many various disciplines to have been the scientific forerunner. Humboldt is not consider himself to be 'universally' a genius however the work of Beck (1986) relates that Humboldt had "essential impulses in astronomy, mathematics, physics, meteorology, climatology, oceanography, chemistry, pharmacy, botany, zoology, geology, mineralogy, volcanology, archaeology, history, sociology, agronomy, ethnology and medicine." (Kohlhepp, 2007) it is however in the area of geography that Humboldt's work has held the most significance.

The account given by Alexander von Humboldt in his five-year expedition to the tropics is a rich and diversely information account that reaches way beyond the travel log "relation historique" or of relating history and is comprises as well by the "Geographie der Planzen with the nature painting, the prifle table (tabluau physicque) of the Andes, the work of New-Spain and the respective associated atlases." (Kohlhepp, 2007) There are many more observations recorded in the "Ansichten der Natur" or essays of Humboldt (1808b) which later became to be known as the Kosmos (184501862) Results from Humboldt's expeditions in Columbia, Ecuador and Peru are recorded in journals and expert's reports that were made into a compilation for officials in the country of Mexico. Even before he set out on his great voyage Humboldt had already been a famous explorer. Already in 1794 he had met with Paris he had an intensive exchange of ideas with the most important natural scientists of his time - e.g. Cuvier, Laplace, Lagrange, Berthollet, Saint-Hilaire, Bougainville, Lavoisier, Gay-Lussac, Fourcroy. Circumnavigations of the globe and important scientific expeditions were great sensations at the turn from the 18th to the 19th century. The educated bourgeoisie devoured the accounts of such journeys in the same manner as the nobles and the political elite did. Humboldt's ability for narration which is both intriguing and also compressed as regards content, his joy in discussions and his comprehensive knowledge, which he managed to make good use of in regionally or thematically comparative approaches, made him a "star" at the Paris salon and also at the academy there.…

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