Horace Bénédict de Saussure

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Saussure, Horace Bénédict de


Born Feb. 17, 1740, in Conches, near Geneva; died Jan. 22,1799, in Geneva. Swiss naturalist, the first scientist to investigate the geological structure of the Alps. Professor of natural philosophy at Geneva (1762–86).

Saussure, whose work marked the beginning of the science of descriptive geology, described in detail the occurrence of alpine rocks and the conditions responsible for their formation. He cited the Alps as evidence confirming P. S. Pallas’ theory that strata in the central portion of mountain regions are more steeply inclined than outlying strata. Saussure also did research in meteorology, glaciology, and botany. His name has been given to the finegrained mineral aggregate saussurite.


Voyages dans les Alpes, vols. 1–4. Geneva-Neuchätel, 1779–96.


Belousov, V. V. “O. B. Sossiur—pervyi issledovatel’ stroeniia Al’p.” Priroda, 1940, no. 1.
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declared its independence from England, Swiss scientist Horace-Benedict de Saussure was using a solar hot box to demonstrate the greenhouse effect and cook food.
Or should the accolades go to Horace-Benedict de Saussure, a wealthy and well-connected intellectual, who wrote about his scientific experiments on the mountain after his ascent on August 3, 1787?
This story began in 1787 with the first recorded ascent of Mont Blanc by Horace-Benedict de Saussure; it ended in 1822 with the spectacular demonstration by William Buckland that large hyenas had once roamed antediluvian Yorkshire.
Among his correspondents were some of the most important scientists of his day, including Charles Bonnet and Horace-Benedict de Saussure. A multitude of others testify to his extensive scientific and literary contacts.
The idea of the greenhouse effect, which seems so modern, was first demonstrated experimentally more than two centuries ago by the Swiss naturalist Horace-Benedict de Saussure. In 1824--the same year that Carnot published his work on steam engines--the French physicist Jean-Baptiste Joseph Fourier (1786-1830) compared the warming of Earth's atmosphere by the Sun's rays with that occurring in the air within a greenhouse.
Horace-Benedict de Saussure (1740-99), was professor of philosophy at the Academy of Geneva.