Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Microgeology

Tripelfels Organische Meeresbildungen

Organische Auswuflinge der Vulkane

Organische Susswasserbildungen Blatterkohlen Lager

Organische Susswasserbildungen Ditchte Erden

Menat

Verschiedene Organische Gebirgsmassen aus Afrika, Asien und Amerika

Lillhaggesion

Organische Meeresbildungen

Kieselguhre aus Massachusetts

Kreidefelsen von Caffoliea in Sicilien

Moonesque

Krystalloid Bildungen Morpholithe

Kieselguhre I von Eger II von Franzensbad in Bohem

Kleines Leben des tiefen Erdfesten

Ceyssat

Cultur-Erden Schnartz-Erde Humusland, Thon, Lehm, Sand, Goldsand

Atlantischer Passatstaub

[click on the images for larger versions]

Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg (1795–1876) from Saxony in Germany, began studies in theology, switched to medicine and he ultimately defended a PhD thesis in mycology. He befriended and accompanied the great Alexander von Humboldt on his Russian expedition and also undertook many of his own scientific excursions, particularly in the Middle East.

Although his central profession revolved around a medical Professorship, his primary interests were the broad areas of study related to microscopy. Ostensibly he had a passion for microorganisms but his enormous collection of plant, animal and soil specimens provided Ehrenberg with a unique opportunity to catalogue a wide range of micro-material for the first time.

Perhaps chief among his many credits, beyond the description of thousands of new unicellular diatoms and radiolaria (Haeckel continued/expanded this work) from the Protist Kingdom, was Ehrlenberg's astonishing report of an immense abundance of microfossils in rock formations. His world wide renown ensured he was plied with geological and organic specimens from all over the globe and I saw mention of many exotic and far flung places in the plates above. Thus did Ehrlenberg establish the scientific field of micropaleontology and he was likewise a pioneer in the geological discipline that came to be known as palynology (study of living and fossilized spores, cysts and associated molecules).

The huge natural bioscience and geological collection amassed by Ehrlenberg is today housed at the Museum für Naturkunde at Humboldt University in Berlin together with a large number of original drawings.

The plates above (from the section 101-140) are from a 2 volume publication by Ehrenberg from 1854 called 'Mikrogeologie'. Venturing into the download section of the Museum für Naturkunde is not for the faint of heart bandwidth, however. I had to download more than 250Mb of plates to collect the images for this post. The average size per plate is ~10Mb. Consequently, I haven't begun to scratch the surface of the legacy of Christian Ehrenberg available online and I'm sure there will be a next time with respect to lining up a clutch of downloads while I go off and watch tv, get a drink, build a house and read a book or 16. But I sense it will be worth it.

3 comments :

Anonymous said...

DIATOMS! They're so beautiful! They're classified as plants now.. back then the lens grinders used diatoms to check the curvature on their lenses. If the diatom didn't look perfectly symmetrical, the lens was declared imperfect (and presumably discarded/ reground)!

pk said...

Thanks TJ. That is a fascinating tidbit of histor-o-trivia that I didn't know but seems to make perfect sense.

David Orr said...

VERY late to this party, bounced back to this original post from a Tumblr post and another blog. Thanks for sharing all of these. Ehrenberg deserves a much more usable presentation online than that directory!

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