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Alexander von Humboldt

Prussian geographer, naturalist and explorer

1769   -   1859

country of citizenship: Kingdom of Prussia, Germany
language of expression: French, German, Spanish
educated at: Viadrina European University, Freiberg University of Mining and Technology, University of Göttingen, University of Jena
occupation: geologist, explorer, botanist, geographer, Geheimrat, chamberlain, oceanographer, demographer, volcanologist, travel writer, science writer, meteorologist, Polymath, patron of the arts, zoologist, naturalist, essayist, mineralogist, astronomer, climatologist, ethnologist, scientist, botanical collector, ornithologist
award received: Merit Order of the Bavarian Crown, Imperial Order of the Rose, Grand Cross of the Order of the Dannebrog, Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour, Mexican Imperial Orders, Grand Cross of the Order of Christ, Order of St. Vladimir, 1st class, Order of the White Falcon, Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus, Grand Cross of the Order of Charles III, Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art, Copley Medal, Pour le Mérite for Sciences and Arts, Knight of the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky, honorary citizen of Berlin, Order of the Black Eagle, Order of the Red Eagle 1st Class, Civil Order of Saxony, Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Foreign Member of the Royal Society, docteur honoris causa de l'université Eberhard Karls de Tübingen, docteur honoris causa de l'université rhénane Frédéric-Guillaume de Bonn, honorary doctor of the University of Tartu, honorary doctor of the University of St Andrews, docteur honoris causa de l'université Charles de Prague
position held: Geheimrat
student of: Justus Christian Loder, Johann Simon von Kerner
influenced by: Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling

Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt (14 September 1769 – 6 May 1859) was a Prussian polymath, geographer, naturalist, explorer, and proponent of Romantic philosophy and science. He was the younger brother of the Prussian minister, philosopher, and linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767–1835). Humboldt's quantitative work on botanical geography laid the foundation for the field of biogeography. Humboldt's advocacy of long-term systematic geophysical measurement laid the foundation for modern geomagnetic and meteorological monitoring.Between 1799 and 1804, Humboldt travelled extensively in the Americas, exploring and describing them for the first time from a modern scientific point of view. His description of the journey was written up and published in an enormous set of volumes over 21 years. Humboldt was one of the first people to propose that the lands bordering the Atlantic Ocean were once joined (South America and Africa in particular). Humboldt resurrected the use of the word cosmos from the ancient Greek and assigned it to his multivolume treatise, Kosmos, in which he sought to unify diverse branches of scientific knowledge and culture. This important work also motivated a holistic perception of the universe as one interacting entity. He was the first person to describe the phenomenon and cause of human-induced climate change, in 1800 and again in 1831, based on observations generated during his travels.
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