Boussingault: Chemist and Agriculturist by F.W.J Mccosh

By F.W.J Mccosh

It was once the British tune critic Neville Cardus, writing on Debussy, who remarked how "the nice sea of Wagner threatened to crush the realm of 19th century music." 1 there's an analogy in mid-nineteenth century agriculture the place the good sea of Justus von Liebig built a tidal wave which to today conceals a lot of the unique paintings and advantage of others within the similar box. not just most of the people yet even scholars of agriculture may perhaps, or won't, bear in mind the names of Persoz, Kuhlmann and Ville in France, Thaer and Sprengel in Germany, or perhaps Lawes and Gilbert in England, to say some of them, whose pioneer works weren't pub licised within the similar didactic and polemical demeanour as these of Liebig. between such pioneers used to be Jean Baptiste Boussingault (1802-1887) whose funda psychological researches contributed to the emergence of agriculture from an empirical corpus of proof to the prestige of a technology. but except his paintings in animal and crop technological know-how he additionally engaged in metallurgical investigations, biology and natural chemistry. The medical international used to be already forthcoming the tip of an period within which it used to be attainable to embody a number of disciplines correctly. With expanding specialisation, institutionalism and profeSsionalism in technology the polymath was once a steadily disappearing species.

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And Mme G. 1 n> Vl > t"'" 24 CHAPTER 2 About this time, in 1822, Simon Bolivar, the liberator of Venezuela and Columbia, decided to establish a training school for civil and military technologists at Bogota, the capital of Columbia. Teaching staff were to be recruited by Bolivar's envoy in Europe, Francisco lea, who was both politician and botanist. Earlier in his career he had been arrested by the Spanish authorities for sedition in Columbia and given a goal sentence in Madrid. He served his sentence by occupying the vacant chair of botany at the University of Madrid and the directorship of the Madrid botanic gardens!

Substituting 'bacteria' for 'miasma' we see that Liebig was close to the modern theory of contagious disease. 3o Curare During the Meta expedition, the travellers saw Indians killing birds with arrows tipped with curare and propelled from a blow-pipe 172 metres long, the bird usually succumbing in five minutes. On one such occasion, when a bird had been killed in this manner, Boussingault was the centre of an extraordinary incident which he described as follows: Then the Indian, who was looking at me whilst holding his blow-pipe vertically, gave me to understand by a haughty gesture that I should pick up the bird.

The tobacconist shop in the rue de la Parcheminerie now closed early. In his letters from Saint-Etienne, Boussingault exhibited a self-centred personality, rarely mentioning his fellow students. A somewhat withdrawn attitude, which was to appear often in his life-time, is noted in his correspondence which included criticism of the lively behaviour of other students, and he was suffiCiently formal to write: One easily distinguishes two classes of students at our school because upbringing is not the same for all.

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