Saussure’s family were Genevan patricians. His father, Nicolas de Saussure, was an agriculturist and author who may have sparked Horace-Bénédict’s early interest in botany. After attending the “Collège” of his hometown, he completed his studies at the Geneva Academy in 1759 with a dissertation on heat (Dissertatio physica de igne). In 1760, he made the first of numerous trips to Chamonix Valley, at the foot of Mont Blanc, to collect plant specimens for the noted Swiss anatomist, physiologist and botanist Albrecht von Haller. In 1760, Saussure offered a reward to the first man to reach the summit of Mont Blanc. Inspired by his uncle, the naturalist Charles Bonnet, the young Saussure also did research on the physiology of plants and published Observations sur l’écorce des feuilles et des pétales (1762). The same year, at 22, he was elected professor of philosophy at the Academy of Geneva, where he lectured on physics one year, and on logic and metaphysics the next. He taught there until 1786, occasionally also lecturing on geography, geology, chemistry, and even astronomy.
His early interest in botanical studies and glaciers soon led Saussure to undertake other journeys across the Alps. In 1767, he completed his first tour of Mont-Blanc, a trip that did much to reveal the topography of the snowy portions of the Alps of Savoy. He also carried out experiments on heat and cold, on the weight of the atmosphere and on electricity and magnetism. For this, he devised what became one of the first electrometers. Other trips led him to Italy, where he studied Mt. Etna and other volcanoes (1772–73), and to the extinct volcanoes of the Auvergne, in France.
More info at: Horace-Bénédict de Saussure – Wikipedia
Additional Articles associated with this person’s firsts:
Horace-Bénédict de Saussure
February 17, 1740, Chêne-Bougeries, Switzerland
January 22, 1799, Geneva, Switzerland
Nicolas-Théodore de Saussure,
Albertine Necker de Saussure
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