Institute and Museum of the History of Science, Florence, ITALY

Annali di Storia della Scienza

Issues from 1996


[ 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001/2 | 2001/1 | 2002 | 2003 ]



Anno XVI, 2001, fasc. 2

The Galilean Lectures  

J. RENN – M. VALLERIANI, Galileo and the challenge of the arsenal


P. ODIFREDDI, Galileo: infinitesimale, eppur infinito




P. ALESSANDRO – P.D. NAPOLITANI, I primi contatti fra Maurolico e Clavio: una nuova edizione della lettera di Francesco Maurolico a Francisco Borgia
We provide here a new edition of the letter addressed by the mathematician Francesco Maurolico (1494 – 1575) to Francisco Borgia, general of the Society of Jesus. This allow us to demonstrate that the relationship between Maurolico and Christoph Clavius did not begin before July 1569. The previously known evidence and texts supported different hypotheses and conjectures.


M. O. HELBING, Una prima illustrazione a stampa del termometro
Paolo Aresi (1574 – 1644) in his commentary on De generatione et corruptione published in Milan (1617) gives a remarkable first illustration of a thermometer; he also describes the instrument and how it works in the context of the question of rarefaction and condensation.


A. LUALDI, La famiglia Selva, ottici del ‘700 veneziano
A new research about the Selva family of opticians and instrument makers in Venice during the XVIII century is described in this article. From Domenico, the grandfather (d. 1758), to the famous Lorenzo (1716 – 1800) and his sons Giuseppe or Jacopo (1755 - ?) and Domenico (1761 - ?) and through the books and pamphlets they left, a large and distinguished production confirms their leadership in the field. A list of the extant instruments is also given.

pag. 531

C. TRIARICO, About newly discovered pieces by Boscovich on optics and on the finding of a vitrometrum
This work is about the findings of the vitrometrum designed by Boscovich in 1773 that came about thanks to the examination of unpublished and previously unknown documents. The instrument was used to examine the dispersive and refractive quality of glass to be used in achromatic optical systems in an attempt to improve precision in the making of telescopes of the Dollond type. The papers examined, going back to the last years of Boscovich’s life, also allow us to know various aspects of Boscovich’s theories about optics and to shed light on his relations with some of his contemporary scientists. Among the various matters dealt with there is the question of the measurement of the speed of light through materials of different density, the diffusion of his texts and the public demonstrations of experiments after the publication of his most important work on optics in 1785.

pag. 547
Per un Archivio della corrispondenza degli scienziati italiani  

I. CHINNICI – W. GRAMATOWSKI S. J., Le carte di Angelo Secchi S. J. (1818 – 1878) conservate presso la Pontificia Università Gregoriana. Un inventario inedito rivisitato
The main archival documents on the life and the activity of Angelo Secchi S. J. are kept in the archive of the P. Università Gregoriana in Rome. The enormous and varied collection of documents is an important source which appears to be crucial for the real understanding and evaluation of the work and the personality of Secchi as well as of the complex political and cultural context of his time. A brief introduction containing some biographical notes on Secchi and a description of the collection is followed by the complete inventory of the documents.

pag. 571
Istituzioni e fonti  

F. BERETTA, Un nuovo documento sul processo di Galileo Galilei. La lettera di Vincenzo Maculano del 22 aprile 1633 al cardinale Francesco Barberini
The recent opening of the Archives of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the heir of the archives of the Roman Holy Office, has permitted the discovery of certain documents concerning Galileo Galilei, including a letter relating to the trial of 1633. In addition to a transcription of the new document, we also situate it in context through a series of considerations, and demonstrate its utility in analysing the development and the logic of the course of the trial. In particular, the document sheds light on the important role in the instruction of the case played by the commissioner of the Inquisition, the Dominican inquisitor and military architect Vincenzo Maculano da Firenzuola, belonging to the patronage network of the Barberini and a key figure of the Roman Holy Office in that period.


L. GUERRINI, Nel dedalo del cielo. Gassendi e le macchie solari in un inedito del 1633
The present artiche presents an unpublished essay-letter dated 29 September 1633 from Pierre Gassendi to Nicolas Fabri de Peiresc. Gassendi send to Aix-en-Provence a detailed comment on Charles Malapert’s Sydera Borbonica, reporting both on the Galileo-Scheiner polemic and his ideas concerning the sunspots. The present article reconstructs the development of Gassendi’s astronomical thoughts on sunspots, using the argument offered by this unpublished letter.

Scientific Instrument Commission  

The archives of scholars, collectors, and dealers: their place in the study of the history of scientific instruments – Papers from the XIXth Symposium of the Scientific Instrument Commission of the IUHPS. Division of the History of Science – Oxford, 2000.Introduction by Anthony Turner


M. MINIATI, About the Florentine Strozzi Manuscripts


W. J. H. ANREWES, The legacy of David Wheatland


W. F. J. MÖRZER BRUYNS, Alain Brieux, dealer and scholar in Paris: his archive on scientific instruments


S. ACKERMANN, Dormant treasures – The Zinner-archive at Frankfurt University


P. DE CLERCQ, The papers of the instrument dealer, collector and researcher Thomas Henry Court (1868 – 1951)

K. VAN CLEEMPOEL, Henry Michel, a gentleman-scholar pag.733
B. STEPHENSON, The Derek price archive at the Adler Planetarium pag.739

A. J. TURNER, The archive of Derek Price in the mèdiatèque specialise en histoire des sciences, cite des sciences et de l’industrie at La Villette in Paris

I. KEILL, The papers of Maximilian Bobinger pag.763
Nova Media  

A. TIOMNO TOLMASQUIM - A. MAGNO DA COSTA - L. ALVES LINO, Building the Brazilian bibliography of the history of science


F. PALLADINO – NICLA PALLADINO, Sulle raccolte museali italiane di modelli per le matematiche superiori – catalogo generale e sito web

Discussioni critiche  

A. ANGELINI, Magia e modernità. L’edizione delle opere magiche di Giordano Bruno


M. BERETTA, Reconstructing science: contributions to the enhancement of European scientific heritage

Recensioni pag.817
Schede pag.857
The IMSS bookshelf pag.885
Indici (Anno XVI, 2001) pag.893
Back to contents  

Anno XVI, 2001, fasc. 1


N. FABBRI, Kepler: Il cosmo armonico e la musica
In his Harmonices Mundi Libri V, Johannes Kepler (Weil der Stadt, Württemberg, 1571 – Regensburg, Bavaria, 1630), besides the formulation of the “harmonic law“, expounds the theory according to which the relationships among planetary velocities correspond to musical intervals.
In the intellectual paths by which Kepler arrives at his three famous dicta on planetary motion and at his polyphonic cosmos, Platonic and Neo-Platonic traditions assume a central role. Robert Fludd, like Kepler, is concerned with a Pythagorean and Platonic theme; but while Fludd’s discussion is primarily concerned with the number mysticism of the Greek philosophers, Kepler arrives at an exact explanation of the structure of the cosmos in terms of a divine harmony based on geometry and music.


G. NONNOI, La scienza e la filosofia galileiane nel New World di John Wilkins
According to some recent interpretations, John Wilkins may be considered the English thinker of the seventeenth century who was most deeply influenced by Galileo’s science and philosophy. Undoubtedly, when considered from a Baconian viewpoint, the contributions made by Galileo to observational astronomy are given their just importance in Wilkins’ texts and not without a certain emphasis. The same cannot be said with reference to cosmology and epistemology. In these cases, Galileo’s ideas do not appear to have acted as a prime stimulus but rather as a support for orientations previously arrived at through literary sources closer to the religious and exegetic orientations, as well as the national intellectual and scientific traditions, that were the stable point of reference the Puritan virtuoso.


L. ZUCCHI, Linneo e Parkinson: Il botanico e le scimmie nel Giardino dell’Eden
The essay examines the title pages of the Systema naturae German edition, (1760) by Linnaeus and of the Paradisi in Sole (1629) by J. Parkinson. Both images show Adam in the garden of Eden, while he gives a name to the creatures therein. For Parkinson – who holds an «isidorian» conception of meaning – the original word expresses the «essence» of what is signified in the world. In actual taxonomic practice, this involves the use of a «diagnostic» nomenclature, with lenghthy polynomials, intended to describe the whole living being. The efficacy of Linnean binomial nomenclature, instead, is due to the clear distinction between the denotative and the descriptive functions of language, linked to a highly selective «sexual system» of classification. However, elements of the «isidorian» conception are present, all the same, in Linnean thought, but they acquire new meanings by being transposed in a mechanist frame of reference. The subjects illustrated and their arrangement express furthermore the Linnean vision of the relationships of Man and other primates as based on continuity.
The analysis of the two title pages shows also how images of this kind, in the early modern period, could function as effective pictorial introductions to scientific works, suggesting in which way the text should be read.


L. E. FUNARO, «Il criterio e la mano». Viaggi e donativi sovrani all’Imperiale e Regio Museo fiorentino
Based on unpublished sources, this article focuses on the relationships between four Habsburg – Lorraine Grand Dukes and the Imperiale e Regio Museo di Fisica e Storia Naturale di Firenze, with special reference to the scientific studies and the travels of the young Leopoldo II. The role of Vincenzio Antinori, director of the Museum in the Florentine scientific context of the mid – 1800’s is also considered.


G. N. VLAHAKIS, Against French science: Alessandro Volta and Luigi Brugnatelli in early nineteenth-century Greece
Because of the generalizing tendency of “big” histories, important details of the scientific activities of a particular period in a geographical area sometimes passed unnoticed. A striking example of this fact is constituted by the support for the theories of Volta and Brugnatelli by Greek scientists against French science in the early nineteenth century.
Volta’s theories on chemistry and on electricity were supported mainly by his Greek students in the University of Pavia.
Constantinos Vardalahos, the author of an important physics textbook published in 1812, gave a detailed account of the work of Volta in electricity and described the Brugnatelli – Lavoisier debate extensively.
Brugnatelli’s strongest supporter was his student Dionyssios Pyrros, a Greek polymath who translated into Greek, among other works, Brugnatelli’s best – selling Farmacopea generale.


R. PASSIONE, Mente e lavoro. Le prime ricerche in Italia fra laboratorio e officina
Taking as its starting point Angelo Mosso’s studies of muscular and mental work carried out in Turin at the end of the nineteenth century, this essay focuses on early Italian investigations of the psycho – physical attitudes of workers undertaken by Mosso’s pupils Zaccaria Treves and Mariano Luigi Patrizi in the fields of medicine and psychophysiology between the end of the nineteenth century and the first ten years of the twentieth century.
In particular, the author is interested in delineating the differences between the various methodological approaches of these studies and in indicating their different ideological meanings, whose origins lie in the various facets of the materialistic philosophy of Italian scientific and positivist culture.

pag. 211
Per un Archivio della Corrispondenza degli scienziati italiani  

A. MESCHIARI, Le carte del «Fondo Giovanni Battista Amici» e della «Raccolta Amici Grossi» nella Biblioteca
We publish here for the first time the complete register of documents of G.B. Amici belonging to the Estense Library in Modena.

pag. 237
Istituzioni e fonti  

E. ULIVI, Mariano Del M° Michele, un maestro d’abaco del XV secolo
In this work has been reconstructed the biography of M° Mariano, a Florentine teacher of abacus of the fifteenth century. Mariano was born about 1387 to Dada of Moddeo Turi and Michele of Gianni, another abacus teacher whose name connected to with the well known Paolo dell’abaco and Antonio Mazzinghi. He taught for about fifty years, mostly in a «bottega d’abaco» located in the Lungarno Acciaiuoli, below his dwelling house, and also for some time in the well known Santa Trinita abacus school. In his long period of activity, among his many pupils were the sons of important Florentine merchants and noblemen. In the years 1422 – 1426 he took part in the works for the building of the Spedale degli Innocenti of Florence. He died in 1458. During his life as well as after his death, he had the reputation of an excellent abacist.


C. POGLIANO, Statements on Race dell’Unesco: cronaca di un lungo travaglio (1949 – 1953)
The two Statements on Race issued by Unesco in 1950 – 1951 represent an interesting case of intersection and problematic collaboration between science and politics. While Europe was recovering and rebuilding after the ravages of war, the young United Nations organization decided to launch a campaign against the numberless sources of racism spread all over the world. For almost three years, Unesco House in Paris changed into the headquarters of a battle inside the international scientific community, whose different sections were disagreeing and quarrelling about the meaning and the implications of the race concept. Mainly based on Unesco archival materials, this essay describes the development of that confrontation as an interplay of actions and reactions. The Appendix contains the texts of the two Statements.

Recensioni pag.401
Schede pag.441
The IMSS bookshelf  pag.465
Back to contents  


[ Museum Home | Issues from 1996 | Nuncius | Italiano ]

For further information, please contact:
Elena Montali:

Last update: 04-Feb-2003