One of the earliest New World naturalists, JosÃ© Celestino Mutis began his professional life as a physician in Spain and ended it as a scientist and natural philosopher in modern-day Colombia. Drawing on new translations of Mutis's nearly forgotten writings, this fascinating story of scientific adventure in eighteenth-century South America retrieves Mutis's contributions from obscurity.In 1760, the 28-year-old Mutis-newly appointed as the personal physician of the Viceroy of the New Kingdom of Granada-embarked on a 48-year exploration of the natural world of northern South America. His thirst for knowledge led Mutis to study the region's flora, become a professor of mathematics, construct the first astronomical observatory in the Western Hemisphere, and amass one of the largest scientific libraries in the world. He translated Newton's writings and penned essays about Copernicus; lectured extensively on astronomy, geography, and meteorology; and eventually became a priest. But, as two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Edward O. Wilson and Spanish natural history scholar JosÃ© M. GÃ³mez DurÃ¡n reveal in this enjoyable and illustrative account, one of Mutis's most magnificent accomplishments involved ants.Acting
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Johns Hopkins University Press
September 28, 2010
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