Towards the end of the eighteenth century, in the heyday of the German Enlightenment, two brilliant young Germans set out to measure the world. The naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt, a Prussian aristocrat schooled for greatness, negotiates savannah and jungle, travels down the Orinoco, climbs the highest mountain then known to man counts lice on the Heads of the natives, and explores every hol,e in the ground. The mathematician and physicist Carl Friedrich Gauss, a man born in poverty who will be recognized as the greatest mathematician since Newton, does not even need to leave his home in Gottingen to know that space is curved. He can run prime numbers in his head, cannot imagine a life withour women and yet jumps out of bed on his wedding night to jot down a mathematical formula.
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