The Invention of Nature: Alexander Von Humboldt’s New World – Presentation by Andrea Wulf

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Andrea Wulf reveals in her new book the extraordinary life of the visionary German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) and how he created the way we understand nature today. Humboldt was an intrepid explorer and the most famous scientist of his age. His restless life was packed with adventure and discovery, whether climbing the highest volcanoes in the world or racing through anthrax–infested Siberia. He brought together the arts and the sciences, and insisted that nature must be experienced through feeling and imagination. His writings inspired naturalists and poets such as Darwin, Wordsworth and Goethe but also politicians such as Jefferson. Wulf argues that it was Humboldt’s influence that led to John Muir’s ideas of preservation and shaped Thoreau’s ‘Walden’. Wulf traces Humboldt’s influences through the great minds he inspired in revolution, evolution, ecology, conservation, art and literature.

See a short film about “The Invention of Nature” at