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* 31. 8. 1802, Niedźwiadka manor, Belorussia
† 23. 1. 1889, Santiago de Chile, Chile

Geologist, mineralogist

Domeyko studied from 1816 to 1822 at the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics at Vilnius University. He had to leave Poland in 1830 because he participated in the national resistance movement. In 1822 he emigrated to France where he studied at College de France, in Parisian École des Mines; he also studied under Leonce Elie de Beaumont, among others. In 1837 he finished his studies as one of the most talented mining engineers. While he was studying in Paris, he drew up three naturalistic maps of Poland - hydrographic, geological and landscape-economic. These were supposed to be the first steps towards the Atlas of Poland, but it was never published.
In December 1837 he was employed as a professor of chemistry and mineralogy at the Mining school in La Serena in the Coquimbo province in Chile, where he also held classes on physics, geology and mining. In 1844 he published two mineralogy textbooks, and one of them, Elementos de mineralogia, was the main basis of knowledge of the mineral riches of South America for more than half a century. Between 1846 and 1883 he was head of the Chair of Mineralogy and Physics at the University of Santiago de Chile and its chancellor from 1867 to 1883. As a member of the Council for Public Schooling, he reformed the Chilean school system based on the model of German universities and the colleges in Vilnius.
While he was living in Chile, he travelled all over the country, conducting mineralogical and geological research. His scientific essays contain around 400 reports from different fields, mostly mineralogy, but also geology, geography, physics and ethnography. He was in contact with numerous scientific institutions from abroad: the Mining School in Paris, to which he donated precious mineralogy collections, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg, the University of Warsaw and Jagiellonian University in Krakow, which awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1887. He was a member of numerous international scientific associations, such as Museum National d‘Historie Naturelle and the Polish Academy of Sciences, among others.
He achieved worldwide recognition with his work on mineralogy and geology, but especially with his Mineralogia que comprenda principalmente las especies minerales de Chili, Bolivia, Peru y Provincias Argentinas. In 1846 he published the first geological map of Chile. He contributed to the understanding of the geological composition of the Cordilleras, researched and described numerous unknown minerals such as Arquevit, Embolite and Amiolite, as well as little known silver and copper sulphates. He also worked with mercury. He discovered copper arsenide, which was later named „Domeykite“ by the Austrian geologist Wilhelm Heidinger. Domeyko discovered nitrous layers in the Atacama Desert (the cave discovered there still carries his name) and in the coal reserves in the Valdivia province, where coal is still being mined today.
Domeyko explored volcanoes, meteorites, subterranean rivers and mineral waters in Chile. He founded a meteorological station and started conducting meteorological research. He also founded an astronomy observatory, initiated the construction of Santiago’s aqueduct, exploited newfound coal sites and initiated the construction of the first blast furnaces.
Domeyko was also a defender of Native American rights. With his book Araucania y sus habitantes (1845), translated into many languages, he did not just expand the knowledge of Araucania’s geography, he also helped people to understand and get to know the life and culture of local Native Americans. The Ethnographic Museum in La Serena, dedicated to the cultures of the Native American tribes of Chile, was founded on his initiative.
Things named after Domeyko: a mountain range in the Andes (Cordillera de Domeyko), the peak Cerro de Domeyko, the shellfish Nautilus domeykus, the ammonite Amonites domeykanus, the flower Viola domeykiana, and the insect species Andrello Domeykoi. As a recognition of his great achievements, the Chilean parliament awarded him citizenship in 1848. In 1903 the Chilean government published his works in 5 tomes, and in 1978 his memoirs were translated into Spanish.

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On 25th May, 2011 we will open the Central European Science Adventure in Slovak Technical Museum in Košice. The game will be accessible for school groups till 30th June. For more info ...

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20. 04. 2011 - Opening of CESA in Budapest

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