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Neumayer, Humboldt and the search for a global physics

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Proceedings and Transactions of the Royal Society of Victoria | Published : 2011


In setting up the Flagstaff Observatory in Melbourne in 1857, the young German geophysicist Georg Neumayer brought new standards of precision to the pursuit of physics in Australia. His wide-ranging research program in geomagnetism, meteorology and oceanography was conceived within an overall approach to science associated especially with the name of Alexander von Humboldt, that saw the Earth and its oceans and atmosphere as an integrated dynamical system. Neumayer also, however, envisaged immediate practical outcomes from his work, whether in determining optimal sailing routes between Europe and Australia, or in locating new mineral deposits. From a personal point of view he regarded his se..

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