Scientist of the Day - Uno von Troil
Uno von Troil, a Swedish naturalist and explorer, was born Feb. 24, 1746, in Stockholm. In 1772, von Troil embarked on a scientific voyage to Iceland, and one of his companions was Joseph Banks (whose birthday we celebrated on Feb. 13). Banks had been planning to go on Captain Cook's second voyage, but the two had a disagreement, and Banks decided to go to Iceland with von Troil instead. On the way, Banks and von Troil stopped at the island of Staffa, in the Scottish Hebrides, and became the first English (and Swedish) visitors to see Fingal's Cave (see the images posted on Feb. 13). In Iceland, they observed the active volcano Mt. Hekla, and the famous Geyser, which soon gave its name to all other geysers worldwide. We have two editions of von Troil's published account of his Iceland adventures in the History of Science Collection, the original Swedish version (1777), from which the images above were taken, and an English translation (1780) that omits all but two of the engravings. Von Troil later became Archbishop of Uppsala, which makes von Troil one of only two Archbishops who, to my knowledge, made important contributions to science, the other being Nicolaus Steno, the geologist.
The images show, in order: Geyser; the title page of the 1777 book, with a tiny vignette of Mt. Hekla; a detail of the vignette, which also shows Geyser at the right (it is not really that close to the volcano); a folding map of Iceland, and a drawing of an Icelandic “Frau” with her daughter.
Dr. William B. Ashworth, Jr., Consultant for the History of Science, Linda Hall Library and Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Missouri-Kansas City