Evangelista Torricelli Essay, Research Paper
I chose to do my report on Evangelista Torricelli. The reason I chose to do him is because he is both Italian and male. I am also both Italian and male which would be my connection to him.
Evangelista Torricelli is an Italian mathematician and physicist. He was born in Faenza on October 15, 1608. And died in Florence on October 25, 1647. Torricelli was educated at the Jesuit College of Faenza, where he showed such great aptitude for the math and sciences. There he met Castelli, the favorite pupil of Galileo, who instructed him in the work of the laws of motion. Torricelli showed his understanding by writing a thesis on the path of projectiles. Castelli sent this essay in manuscript to Galileo with strong recommendations. The Grand Duke prevailed upon him to remain at Florence and to succeed Galileo at the Academy. There, Torricelli solved some of the great mathematical problems of the day, such as the finding of the area and the center of gravity of the cycloid.
Torricelli’s chief invention was the barometer. Pumpmakers of the Grand Duke of Tuscany attempted to raise water to a height of forty feet or more, but found that thirty-two feet was the limit to which it would rise in the suction pump. Strange enough, Galileo, who knew all about the weight of the air, had recourse to the old theory that “nature abhors a vacuum”, modifying the law by stating that the “horror” extended only to about thirty-two feet. Torricelli at once conceived the correct explanation. He tried the experiment with quicksilver, a liquid fourteen times as heavy as water, expecting that the column would counterbalance the air to be proportionally smaller. He filled a tube three feet long, and hermetically closed at one end, with mercury and set it vertically with the open end in a basin of mercury, taking care that no air-bubbles should get into the tube. The column of mercury invariably fell to about twenty-eight inches, leaving an empty space (Torricellian vacuum) above its level. He expressed his sorrow at the fact that Galileo had not made this discovery in connection with the pressure of air. The barometer is today one of the most important scientific instruments, while the Torricellian method of getting a very high vacuum is still often employed. Another discovery was the law of efflux of a liquid, through a small opening in the wall of a vessel. He also constructed a number of large objectives and small, short focus, simple microscopes.
His literary contributions are noted for their conciseness, clearness, and elegance. His manuscripts have not all been published and are carefully preserved at Florence. The following have appeared in print: “Trattato del moto” which was written in Florence, sometime before 1641, “Opera geometrica”, which was also written in Florence, in 1644, “Lezioni accademichi” which was also written Florence, sometime around 1715, and “Esperienza dell argento vivo” which was written in Berlin, Germany in 1897.
Torricelli also made the Torricelli Lens, which is a high powered lens for a telescope. Together with two other lenses kept at the Museum of History of Science in Florence, it is all that remains of Torricelli’s production of lenses for telescopes. On October 18th, 1641 Evangelista Torricelli (1608, 1647) joined Galileo in his house in Arcetri, in order to follow more closely his teachings. The discussions he had with his Master, during a period of three months (Galileo died on January 8th, 1642), stimulated Torricelli to take an interest in the “quality” of the lenses for telescopes. The lens presented here was found by Prof. Gilberto Govi in Naples around 1885 and is engraved: “Vang.sta Torricelli fece in Fiorenza per comando di S.A.S.ma” (”Vang.sta Torricelli made it in Florence by order of Your Highness”). It is a plano-convex lens of 13-cm diameter, slightly larger than those kept in Florence. The lens, which is well preserved, is kept in a wooden box lined with velvet.