Alexander von Humboldt (A scientist idolized by Darwin) – R. Ramanujam

வாசிக்கும் நேரம்: 3 நிமிடங்கள்

Charles Darwin was one of the greatest thinkers of science, and if there was a scientist idolized by Darwin himself, it was Alexander von Humboldt. Goethe is considered one of the greatest poets of the German language, and Goethe said that he learned more from an hour in Humboldt’s company than he did spending eight days reading other books. A scientist revered by fellow scientists from many fields, poets and heads of state — such was the respect Humboldt achieved in his lifetime. Between 1820 and 1850, he was the most influential figure in science; it is likely that only Einstein was to achieve greater fame in his own lifetime.

In a life that spanned 89 years, Humboldt travelled across four continents, wrote 36 books and wrote more than 3000 letters to thinkers around the world, each letter a thoughtful essay on matters of the intellect. He wrote on how continents move, mapped plants across continents, showed how water and air move across the globe causing climate conditions. He showed how deforestation causes climate change, located the magnetic equator and studied plant and animal extinction using fossils. Each of these went on to found whole new areas of scientific activity. We have to marvel at Humboldt’s breadth of vision, a scientific worldview that encompasses the entire world. He saw the world without boundary lines.

Naturally talking of Humboldt inspires students of science and communicators of science. Clearly, Hemaprabha is inspired as she writes of Humboldt. A young researcher working on cutting edge science, Hema is also a frontline science communicator, deeply committed to nurturing scientific temper in children. Her writings in Tamil are opening windows into the wondrous world of science for thousands of children. Reading her articles in Thulir has made me an eagerly learning child as well.

This book is an account of Humboldt’s life. We accompany Humboldt around Europe, watch him enter German mines, collect plants along the Rhine, go with him to Venezuela and Lake Valencia. We realize along with him that climate change can be caused by human activity and that all life forms are interwoven in a web. In the myth we know, Ganesha goes around his parents and claims he has gone around the world: a quick tour of Humboldt’s books lets us glimpse the entire world in one awe-inspiring sweep. Every reader will thank Hema and start her/his own journey.

Oongil koottam is doing a signal service in nurturing children’s interest, in opening worlds to them through little books. Humboldt is a good addition to the koottam.

Dr. R. Ramanujam

Editor, ‘Thulir'[Children’s Science Magazine in Tamil]

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About Oongil Kootam:

Oongil Kootam (meaning: A pod of dolphins) is a team of contemporary Tamil children Writers, Illustrators, Designers, Editors who came forward to publish books for young adults. There has been an extended request and demand to publish age-appropriate works in children’s literature (Tamil). Efforts to that end have been ongoing from time to time. Under the supervision of the Writer & Translator ‘Kamalalayan’ and coordination of ‘Panchumittai’ Prabhu, ‘Ongil Koottam’ is continuing these efforts.   Oongil Kootam publishes different genres such as science, society, ecology, biographies of personalities in a simple language to encourage children’s reading habits. Attractive illustrations are included to enrich the text. Books from Oongil Kootam are published in two languages: Tamil and English.


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