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Paolo Frisi (1728 – 1784): Mathematician and Astronomer

Posted April 16, 2012 2:48 PM by SavvyExacta

Paolo Frisi was a leading authority on mathematics and science during the mid-18th century in what is now Italy. Frisi worked with dynamics, physics, astronomy, mathematics, geodetics, hydrodynamics and electricity. He published a book, De moto diurno terrae, about the motion of the earth. He was the first to introduce the lightning conductor to Italy.

Education & Early Career

Frisi was born in Milan and educated at the Barnabite monastery. Appointed by the King of Sardinia, he became a professor of philosophy at Casale Novara. (He was removed from the institution because of a friendship with a liberal; part of his duties included being a preacher.) His other teaching positions included:

  • Barnabite College of St. Alexander - professor of philosophy
  • University of Pisa - professor of mathematics
  • Palatine Schools at Milan - professor of mathematics

Contributions

A major accomplishment from his work with light and electricity was being the first to introduce the lightning conductor to Italy. At the time it was not always believed that lightning was an electrical phenomenon. Thus, metallic conductors would be unable to prevent damage caused by lightning. Early lightning rods were placed on the towers of churches and castles. Public tests were often conducted to prove the functionality of the lightning rods - and the laws of physics.

Frisi's work with astronomy was largely based on Newton's theory of gravitation. He wrote a memoir about his study of the motion of the earth, De moto diurno terrae. He studied the motion of the moon and physical causes for the shape and size of the earth.

Because of his studies of kinematics and hydraulics, Frisi was asked to draw up plans for a canal. In 1762 he published a work on hydraulics, Del modo di regolare i fiumi, e i torrentini (A treatise on rivers and torrents; with the method of regulating their course and channels). He created a plan for a canal between Milan and Pavia. It was built in 1819, using his plan, 35 years after his death.

In addition to his own studies, Frisi helped bring the contributions of Galileo, Cavalieri, Newton, and d'Alembert to a wider audience. His work in Latin was translated into French and English.

Resources:

Bertucci, Paola. "Public Opinion, Local Authorities, and the Reformation of Meteorology in Eighteent Century Italy."

Berzolari, Alberto Gigli. "Volta's Teaching in Como and Pavia: Moments of Academic Life Under All Flags."

Paolo Frisi

TODAYINSCI: Paolo Frisi

Wikipedia: Paolo Frisi

http://www.museobiassono.it/Italiano/index.php?page=/Italiano/schede/S08/index.html [image]

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Re: Paolo Frisi (1728 – 1784): Mathematician and Astronomer

04/16/2012 4:19 PM

Amazing, though, his name sounds more like a haute couture celebrity.

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