The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt, the Lost Hero of Science
Humboldt’s books, diaries and letters reveal a visionary, a thinker far ahead of his time. He invented isotherms – the lines of temperature and pressure that we see on today’s weather maps – and he also discovered the magnetic equator. He came up with the idea of vegetation and climate zones that snake across the globe. Most important, though, Humboldt revolutionized the way we see the natural world. He found connections everywhere. Nothing, not even the tiniest organism, was looked at on its own. ‘In this great chain of causes and effects,’ Humboldt said, ‘no single fact can be considered in isolation.’ With this insight, he invented the web of life, the concept of nature as we know it today.