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Location address: France, Paris, Jardin des Plantes
Number of texts: 7
It’s a pity that the 18th century scientist Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon is not better known in the Earth Sciences.
Scientist Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon decided to reconstruct all of Earth’s history, from its fiery beginnings to an anticipated freezing oblivion, in a single volume - Les Epoques. It was arguably the first science-based history of Earth. Buffon designed “burning mirrors” to melt rock, and he dug deep shafts in search of fossils. His writing style made this groundbreaking research accessible to the public, something many of his peers disapproved.
Did you know that the top scientist Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon received a stinking and decaying moose from President Thomas Jefferson. Georges-Louis Leclerc had developed a theory that the mammals of America were enfeebled latecommers, developing in cooler, less life-friendly times. This idea stung the young Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson collected evidence of the richness and beauty of nature in America. So he sent Georges-Louis Leclerc a crate with the skin and the bones of a moose. But after a long trip, the point Jefferson wanted to make was not so successful when they opened the stinking coffin.
Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon is now not as well known as Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. But with his giant work of 36 volumes called “Histoire Naturelle”, he put him in par with Voltaire and Rousseau as a leading thinker of his day. Scientist Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon made his reputation with mathematics, held a position at the French Academy of Sciences and was put in charge of Louis XV’s botanic gardens and later the royal collections of scientific objects.
This is the statue of scientist Buffon in the Jardin des Plantes. When Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon decided to dedicate his life to science, his father wasn’t thrilled. In the 18th century, the practice of science was not really seen as a profession. Because he definitely wanted to spend sufficient hours to science, he even hired someone to physically drag him out of bed early in the morning so he could work for 12 to 14 hours on science.
Did you know that Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, foresaw the discipline of paleontology. He found out that the fossils deep in rock strata represent organisms now extinct. Buffon said it would be useful to study these systematically and compare them with living organisms, foreseeing the discipline of paleontology. This idea was also important in the later developed evolution theories of Lamarck and Darwin.
Did you know that the 18tch century scientist Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon wrote that coal was formed in ancient conditions akin to those of the tropical swamps of Guyana - an interpretation still valid today.
Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon wrote one of the first scientific books on the complete geological history of the Earth. It is said that Catherine the Great of Russia was captivated by it.