ROYAL INSTITUTION OF GREAT BRITAIN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ROYAL INSTITUTION OF GREAT BRITAIN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Sketch of Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), German naturalist and geographer. Humboldt was born at Berlin into a military family. His initial education was in finance, studying at Frankfurt-am-Oder, but he soon turned his atention toward science. At 27, Humboldt inherited enough money to plan an expedition with botanist Aime Bonpland to South America. They mapped over 2700 kilometres of the Orinoco River, catalogued huge tracts of flora and fauna and discovered and measured the Peruvian Current (now called the Humboldt Current). Returning to Europe, he studied the meteorology of Russia and drew the first isotherm map. From 1845 he published the five-volume work 'Kosmos', a summary of everything that was then known about the Earth. He died in Berlin two years after suffering a stroke.
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