You want to witness a fashion show in Milan, to romance in Venice is your dream, to explore the Eternal City of Rome is your passion and ooh! waiting for Italian Mozzarella pizzas at your doorstep? Most of the people from an urbane lifestyle think of things like these. However, only a few are there who are actually keen to know about the scientific heritage of Italy too.
For these genius and curious ones, here is a list of the ten greatest Italian scientists and their contributions. Dive in.
10. Alessandro Volta
Voltage, Electric Cell, Methane
The hardest thing to see is what is in front of your eyes is an old saying. Almost every month, from our home electricity metres to switches and all, we read his name, still unaware of him. Volt, the SI unit of Voltage has been derived after Alessandro’s name. Methane and electric battery are but smaller of his invention portfolio, which includes an expansive field of electro chemistry that he gave birth to.
9. Luigi Galvani
In quotes, in motivational seminars, in books, everywhere we listen to this phrase The Spark of Life, don’t we? But Galvani was the first person to have actually brought this to practice. While experimenting with a dead frog, he encountered one of its legs move when a metal rod struck the leg with a spark. To describe this connection of electricity and animation of life, the Bologna-born scientist coined the term ‘Animal Electricity’, also called Bioelectricity.
8. Evangelista Torricelli
Barometer, Torricelli’s Law
At times, you must have heard that people who die, go up above becoming stars or some heavenly objects. A live example of this, an asteroid was named on Torricelli’s name after his death. Being born in a poor family of a textile worker, for his education, Torricelli was sent to his uncle, a Camaldolese monk. There he was trained under one of Galileo Galilei’s student Castelli. During his research, he was exposed to high-end experiments on hydraulics. Moving on, he created many telescopes and microscopes.
7. Girolamo Fracastoro
Cure For Syphilis
When he was not even in his twenties, his statues in bronze and marble were elected in different cities. Also before his twenties, he proposed a cure for Syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease also known as ‘the great imitator’. The name Syphilis was derived from one of his poems. Yes, he was a poet too! His portrait painted by the great Italian painter Titian currently rests in the National Gallery.
6. Stanislao Cannizzaro
Things happen. Cannizzaro entered the college with the aim of studying medicine; however, very soon he found his interest inclining towards chemistry. Along with his significant contributions on various concepts in organic and inorganic chemistry, his most notable discovery was Cannizzaro reaction. The reaction is characterized by decomposition of benzaldehyde into benzoic acid and benzyl alcohol. The scientist is also known for his work in solidifying the evidences of Avogadro’s molecular theory.
5. Enrico Fermi
Nuclear Reactor, Atomic Bomb
How did you spend your childhood? Fermi spent his developing electric motors. Notably called as the Pope Physicist due to the evolution he gave to nuclear physics. From his many, many breakthrough discoveries, the most remarkable one was of a nuclear chain reaction. That is, he discovered that the nucleus of an atom can be destroyed by bombarding a group of neutrons on it, which later led to the invention of atomic bomb. Though being born in Rome, Fermi and his wife adapted American citizenship during his late years.
4. Guglielmo Marconi
Many people talk about doing good for the world but only a few actually make that true. Rather, their passion. Despite of being a below-average student in his school, Marconi did something which hardly anyone can match, even in years to come. It all started in his secret small workshop inspired by Heinrich Hertz’s line of thought on radio wave transmission. Later after the discovery of radio, he was honoured by the King of Italy as a marquis, which means a nobleman of hereditary rank.
3. Amedeo Avogadro
Born in a noble family of Sardinia, Turin, Avogadro is a master physicist whose discoveries on the atomic-molecular theory form the baseline of chemistry textbooks today. Known by the symbol NA, the Avogadro Constant dedicated on his name is one of the seven SI base units in science. Though at first, the discovery was not accepted by the scientists’ community, it was finally proved by Stanislao Cannizzaro. And then, Avogadro regained his reputation, only unfortunately it was four years after his death.
2. Galileo Galilei
Astronomy, Kinematics, Dynamics
If you had have science as one of the subjects in school, there is no student who is not familiar with this great scientist. Born to a lutenist & music theorist father, the Pisa-born scientist was exposed to laws of music and mathematics from his very childhood. This led to a number of astronomical, mathematical and engineering discoveries. In addition, Galileo was the first scientist ever to discover that the nature’s laws are purely mathematical in nature. Well, we know you didn’t like mugging up those lengthy physics laws, but that’s a different question altogether!
Archimedes Principle, Hydrostatics, Calculus
Remember, in summers, when your mother gives you a glass of cool Rooh-Afza sherbet and you put in an extra cube of ice. A small amount of the rosy drink splashes and spills on the floor. Well, this is not bad manners, this is called Archimedes Principle. Born in Sicily in 287 BC, Archimedes discovered this principle when he was told to verify the authenticity of King Heiro II’s gold crown. The scientist, upon discovering this got so excited that he ran naked to the streets shouting ‘Eureka’! Hah! Don’t you even think about trying this!