University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > mh903's list > Cartographic Lines as Travel Pathways of Climate Knowledge: Alexander von Humboldt's Climate Map

Cartographic Lines as Travel Pathways of Climate Knowledge: Alexander von Humboldt's Climate Map

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The climate is invisible. Humboldt’s climate zone map of 1817 dates back to the early history of graphic-analytical methods, which we now call data visualisation. It offers a first picture of climate zones based on measurements. While today we are surrounded by infographics on almost all topics, around 1800 there was hardly any knowledge presented in this form. Humboldt’s climate map remains surprisingly abstract, resembling an idealized diagrammatic scheme rather than an executed map. The lecture focuses on Humboldt’s drawing practice and his pictorial thinking. It is here the specific “thought style” (Ludwik Fleck) of a “Humboldtian Science”, as described by historians for the 19th century, that can be connected with the history of data visualization.

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