Introduction: The Laboratory of Nature – Science in the Mountains

Science in Context 22 (3):311-321 (2009)
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“Today I made the ascent of the highest mountain in this region, which for good reasons is called Ventosum, guided only by the desire to see the extraordinary altitude of the place”. Petrarch's ascent of the Mont Ventoux in 1336, or rather his account of it, established the mountain as a distinctive place for experiencing and understanding nature and self. Since then, the mountain has been sought out in increasing numbers by those pursuing spiritual elevation, bodily exertion, and/or scientific investigation. To this day, a pilgrimage church, several hotels, and an observatory are characteristically perched atop Mont Ventoux. And it is famous among cyclists as a legendarily difficultétapeof the Tour de France.



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