Experiments by Gaspare Berti at the Minim
Convent at Pincio.
Gaspar Schott, Technica curiosa,
sive, Mirabilia artis, Würzburg 1664
Born at Montevarchi, he studied
at Florence, and, having taken his vows, moved to Rome, following
Cardinal Sacchetti. In 1636, he began to work at the Vatican Library.
A pupil of Castelli in Rome, in 1638 he was Castelli's tip to Galileo
as the candidate for the chair of Mathematics at Pisa. Well at home
in the scientific community in the Papal city, Magiotti actively participated
in Roman scientific debates, on which he provided detailed information
to Galileo, with whom he was often in touch. He died of the plague
During his life, Magiotti published only
one work, entitled Renitenza dell’acqua alla compressione (Water's
resistance to compression), which came out in 1648. The text is
very interesting, being the first report of the practical resistance
to compression - which Magiotti mistakenly claimed to be absolute
- of water at constant temperature, as well as the expansion and contraction
of fluid media (water and air) subjected to changes in temperature.
In addition to descriptions of various thermometers, the work also
presents an illustration of the bell-jar divers, or "Cartesian devils",
whose discovery would then be attributed to the Tuscan scientist.
Magiotti played a remarkable role in the
context of experimentation which preceded, and to a large extent,
prepared the way, for the torricellian barometric experiments. He
assisted - giving full descriptions in various letters - in the syphon
experiments performed by Gasparo Berti around 1640. In a letter to
Mersenne from 1648, he recalled that happy experimental period, and
revealed that he had told Torricelli about the tests performed by
Berti. He also suggested the use of sea-water, which is more dense
than fresh water, thus making possible the decisive choice of mercury
in barometric experiments.