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Gaetano Crocco – Italian Aerospace Pioneer

Gaetano Crocco – Italian Aerospace Pioneer

On October 26, 1877, Italian aviation pioneer Gaetano Arturo Crocco was born. He was the founder of the Italian Rocket Society, and went on to become Italy’s leading space scientist. As head of the School of Aeronautics of the University of Rome, he performed research on flight mechanics, structural design, and high altitude flight in addition to his work in rocket propulsion. Gaetano Crocco – Early Years Crocco was the son of a…
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Vannoccio Biringuccio and the Art of Metalworking

Vannoccio Biringuccio and the Art of Metalworking

Probably on October 20, 1480, Italian matallurgist Vannoccio Biringuccio was born. He is best known for his manual on metalworking, De la pirotechnia, published posthumously in 1540. Biringuccio is considered by some as the father of the foundry industry. Vannoccio Biringuccio – Early Years Biringuccio was born in Siena to Paolo Biringuccio, thought to have been an architect and public servant, and his mother was Lucrezia di Bartolommeo Biringuccio. He was baptised…
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Bernard Bolzano and the Theory of Knowledge

Bernard Bolzano and the Theory of Knowledge

On October 5, 1781, Bohemian mathematician, logician, philosopher, theologian and Catholic priest of Italian extraction Bernard Bolzano was born. Bolzano made significant contributions to both mathematics and the theory of knowledge. He provided a more detailed proof for the binomial theorem and suggested the means of distinguishing between finite and infinite classes. His major work, Wissenschaftslehre (1837), contains various contributions to logic and semantics concerning the relations of compatibility, derivability, and consequence,…
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Girolamo Fracastoro’s Proposal of a Scientific Germ Theory

Girolamo Fracastoro’s Proposal of a Scientific Germ Theory

On August 6, 1553, an Italian physician, poet, and scholar in mathematics, geography and astronomy Girolamo Fracastoro passed away. Fracastoro subscribed to the philosophy of atomism, and rejected appeals to hidden causes in scientific investigation. He is known for his proposal of a scientific germ theory for how diseases are transmitted. Fracastoro’s ideas helped make unpopular public health measures more accepted, such as destroying animals, or thorough cleaning or burning of infected possessions during…
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Primo Levi and the Best Science Book ever Written

Primo Levi and the Best Science Book ever Written

On July 31, 1919, Italian Jewish chemist, writer, and Holocaust survivor Primo Levi was born. As a writer, he is noted for his restrained and moving autobiographical account of and reflections on survival in the Nazi concentration camps. His book The Periodic Table, a collection of short stories published in 1975, and named after the periodic table in chemistry, was named it the best science book ever by the Royal Institution of…
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Francesco Scipione, Marchese di Maffei – Writer, Antiquarian, and Art Critic

Francesco Scipione, Marchese di Maffei – Writer, Antiquarian, and Art Critic

On June 1, 1675, Italian writer and art critic, author, antiquarian and humanist Francesco Scipione, marchese di Maffei was born. His publications on Etruscan antiquities stand as incunabula of Etruscology, he engaged in running skirmishes in print with his rival in the field of antiquities, Antonio Francesco Gori. “The subject of a Tragedy is like that of a Chart, which gives rise to infinite different thoughts” – Francesco Scipione, marchese di Maffei Marchese…
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Antonio Bosio and the Rediscovery of the Roman Catacombs

Antonio Bosio and the Rediscovery of the Roman Catacombs

On May 31, 1578, the Catacombs of Rome were discovered by accident. A sepulchral chamber was opened by some laborers digging for pozzolana earth. Ecclesiastical historian Caesar Baronius was one of the first to visit the new discovery. Fifteen years later, in December 1593, 18-year-old Antonio Bosio began a lifetime exploring the catacombs researching them for his volume, Roma Sotterranea. Antonio Bosio – Background Information Antonio Bosio was born in Malta about the…
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Niccoló Paganini – the Devil’s Violinist

Niccoló Paganini – the Devil’s Violinist

On May 27, 1840, Italian violinist and composer Niccolo Paganini passed away. He was the most celebrated violin virtuoso of his time, and left his mark as one of the pillars of modern violin technique. “Some creatures are completely demonic, in some parts of it are effective. […] Among artists it is found more in musicians, less in painters. In Paganini it shows itself to a high degree, which is why he produces such…
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Vito Volterra and Functional Analysis

Vito Volterra and Functional Analysis

On May 3, 1860, Italian mathematician and physicist Vito Volterra was born. He is known for his contributions to mathematical biology and integral equations. Moreover, he is considered as one of the founders of functional analysis. “Empires die, but Euclid’s theorems keep their youth forever” — Vito Volterra Youth and Education Vito Volterra was born in Ancona, then part of the Papal States, as son of Abramo Volterra, a cloth merchant, into…
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Andrea Cesalpino and the Classification of Plants

Andrea Cesalpino and the Classification of Plants

On February 23, 1603, Italian physician, philosopher and botanist Andrea Cesalpino passed away. He classified plants according to their fruits and seeds, rather than alphabetically or by medicinal properties. He helped establish botany as an independent science and also made contributions to medical science and physiology. Andrea Cesalpino – Early Years Andrea Cesalpino was probably born on June 5, 1525 in Arezzo, Tuscany. However, some sources suggest also 1519 as his actual year…
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