SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Alexander von Humboldt. Coloured portrait of the German explorer, Baron Alexander von Humboldt (1769- 1859). After training as a mining engineer, he inherited money and set out to indulge his knowledge of botany and geology. He began an epic exploration of central and south America during which time he amassed scientific specimens and observations. He studied ocean currents (the Humboldt Current is named in his honour); first proposed a Panama Canal; introduced isobars and isotherms on weather maps and discovered that the Earth's magnetic field decreases from poles to equator. His five volume Kosmos may be said to have founded the science of geophysics.
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