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Andrea Wulf

The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt, the Lost Hero of Science

Hay Festival 2016, 

Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) is the great lost scientist: more things are named after him than anyone else. There are towns, rivers, mountain ranges, the ocean current that runs along the South American coast, there’s a penguin, a giant squid - even the Mare Humboldtianum on the moon. He explored deep into the rainforest, climbed the world’s highest volcanoes and inspired princes and presidents, scientists and poets alike. Napoleon was jealous of him; Simon Bolívar’s revolution was fuelled by his ideas; Darwin set sail on the Beagle because of Humboldt; and Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo owned all of his many books. He simply was, as one contemporary put it, “the greatest man since the Deluge”. Wulf’s biography won the Costa Prize. Chaired by Professor Philip Davies.

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Andrea Wulf