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Science in Context, Vol. 22, No. 3 The Hotel that Became an Observatory: Mount Faulhorn as Singularity, Microcosm, and
 

Summary: 1
09/05/2009
Science in Context, Vol. 22, No. 3
The Hotel that Became an Observatory: Mount Faulhorn as Singularity, Microcosm, and
Macro-Tool
David Aubin
Université Pierre et Marie Curie ­ Paris 6
Institut de mathématiques de Jussieu
Argument
One of the first high-altitude observatories was a hotel. Established in 1823, the chalet on Mount
Faulhorn became a highpoint of nineteenth-century science. In this paper, I take this mountain as my
entry point into the examination of the special attraction that mountains exerted on scientists. I argue
that Mount Faulhorn stood for three different conceptions of the usefulness of the mountain in science:
(1) in observation networks, stations were usually chosen for pragmatic rather than scientific reasons,
but mountains represented singular spots in such networks, which deserved special attention; (2) the
mountain also was a microcosm where altitude differences were thought to capture essential features
of latitude differences; (3) the mountain was sometimes no more than a macro-tool for the pursuit of
science, just a middle ground between the heaven and the earth.
Introduction
One of the first permanent high-altitude observatories was a hotel. On 16 September 1864, the

  

Source: Aubin, David - Institut de Mathématiques de Jussieu, Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie, Paris 6

 

Collections: Mathematics; Multidisciplinary Databases and Resources