Macedonio Melloni between physics and political commitment

Colombi, E. (2014) Macedonio Melloni between physics and political commitment. Il nuovo cimento C, 37 (4). pp. 285-303. ISSN 1826-9885

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Macedonio Melloni is an outstanding figure in the scientific world of the nineteenth century. His life can be divided into two main periods, and the interruption is due to his deep involvement in the political risings that shaked Europe in 1831. In the first period, he was a professor at the School of Physics of the University of Parma. Since the very beginning, he devoted a special attention to the properties of radiant heat, and the theoretical insights about the nature of Thermal phenomena were doubled by a smart attitude in improving the laboratory tools. The political events of 1830-31 caused stir inside the University of Parma. Melloni delivered a celebrated speech, leading to stormy meetings, the closure of the School of Physics of the University, the arrests and deportations of students. Nevertheless they gained support from the whole town: Parma in fact rose up and a provisional government was formed of which Melloni himself became a member. Accounts on these events can be found in the documents of the Archivio di Stato (the Public Records Office), as well as in the diary of Lombardini, the Chancellor of the University, and in the short stories by Gallenga (a deported student), besides letters and memories of Melloni himself. The subsequent exile, apart from difficulties in private and familiar life, gave him the chance of establishing relations and collaborations with the scientific European circles. Thus, the 1831 uprising caused both dramatic changes and rich opportunities in the career of a patriot who, as others in the same period, was divided between political engagement and scientific passion.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: History of Sciences ; Science and Society
Subjects: 500 Scienze naturali e Matematica > 530 Fisica
Depositing User: Marina Spanti
Date Deposited: 19 May 2020 16:13
Last Modified: 19 May 2020 16:13

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