Georg Bauer

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Bauer, Georg (1490-1555)

German scholar and "father of mineralogy." He Latinized his surname (which means "boor" or "husbandman") to "Agricola" ("farmer"). Bauer was born March 24, 1490, at Glauchau, Saxony. An able and industrious man, he acquired considerable knowledge of the principles of medicine, which led him, as it led many of his contemporaries, to search for the elixir of life and the philosophers' stone. A treatise on these interesting subjects, which he published at Cologne in 1531, secured him the favor of Duke Maurice of Saxony, who appointed him superintendent of his silver mines at Chemnitz. In this post he obtained a practical acquaintance with the properties of metals, which dissipated his wild notions of their possible transmutation into gold; but if he abandoned one superstition he adopted another, and from the legends of the miners he imbibed a belief in the existence of good and evil spirits in the bowels of the earth, and in the creation of explosive gases and firedamp by the malicious agency of the latter.

Bauer's major work, De Re Metallica, completed in 1550 and published in 1556, has an illustration showing dowsers at work searching for minerals with a divining rod.

He died in Chemnitz on November 21, 1555.

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