The Cycle of Life:
An History of Experimental Ecology

Sterling Memorial
Kline Sciences
Medical Historical
Exhibit Map

J-B Dumas and J-B Boussingault, The Chemical and Physiological Balance of Organic Nature, 1842 (trans. 1844)

In this collaborative essay the French organic chemists, Jean Baptiste Dumas (1800-1884) and Jean Baptiste Boussingault (1802-1887) described nature as a chemical laboratory with “the animal kingdom constituting an immense apparatus of combustion and the vegetable kingdom and immense apparatus of reduction.” The “mysterious cycle of organic life on the globe” worked by vegetables drawing matter from the atmosphere to create organic substances, these pass into animals when they are eaten, the plants and animals return these materials to nature’s grand reserve upon their death and ultimate decay.” (pp. 18-23)



Erasmus Darwin, Zoonomia, 1793
Charles Darwin, On the Formation of Vegetable Matter by Worms, 1881
Alexander von Humboldt, Cosmos, 1858
Dumas and Boussingault, Balance of Organic Matter, 1844
Ferdinand Cohn, Bacteria, The Smallest Living Beings, 1872
Louis Pasteur, Etudes sur la Biere, 1862
Selman Waksman, Sergei Winogradsky, 1953
Selman Waksman, Humus, 1939
Vladimir Vernadsky, Principles of Biogeochemistry, 1960
James Lovelock, An Homage to Gaia, 1985
Lloyd Ackert
Whitney Humanities Center
Yale University
53 Wall Street
P.O. Box 208298
New Haven, CT 06520-8298
Office: (203).432.3112

The Sterling Memorial Exhibit is located in the Overflow Case to the left of the circulation desk. The Sterling Memorial Library is located at

120 High Street
Yale University
New Haven, CT 06520
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