The Current Issue

November 2015, Issue 437 Patrick Wilcken on Alexander von Humboldt * Seamus Perry on Ted Hughes * Lara Feigel on Dietrich & Riefenstahl * John Gray on the problem of memes * Piers Brendon on Margaret Thatcher * Daisy Dunn on ancient Rome * Jonathan Meades on Dennis Potter * Matthew Green on Boko Haram * Miranda Seymour on Lady Byron * Kevin Jackson on the third Inkling * Joan Smith on Erica Jong * Matthew Parker on Ian Fleming's Bond letters * Catherine Peters on pea-soupers * Alan Judd on the Cambridge Spies * Matthew Sperling on J H Prynne * Gillian Tindall on British railways * Jonathan Mirsky on escaping North Korea * Adam LeBor on the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin * Anthony Kenny on St Augustine * John Keay on Burma * Jude Cook on Jonathan Coe * Cressida Connolly on Helen Simpson  and much, much more…

Patrick Wilcken

Conqueror of Chimborazo

In July 1799, the 29-year-old Prussian naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt finally reached South America. When he docked in New Andalusia (present-day Venezuela), he plunged his thermometer into the sand, logging a temperature of 37.7ºC. It would be the first of the many thousands of recordings he would make during his journey across the Americas, from testing the charge of electric eels on his own arm to measuring earthquake tremors in Caracas and taking periodic altitude readings on his precious barometers that smashed one by one as the voyage progressed... read more

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