Institute and Museum of History of Science, Florence, ITALY

                      The main characters                   
Gilles Personne Roberval (1610-1675) Gaspar Schott (1608-1666) Evangelista Torricelli (1608-1647)

Gaspar Schott, Mechanica hydraulico-pneumatica, Würzburg 1657, title-page.



Except for the date and the place of birth (Königshofen, near Würzburg), nothing is known of his origins and childhood. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1627, and studied at the university of Würzburg, under the tutelage of Athanasius Kircher. In 1631, he left Germany, and after various wanderings, settled in Palermo, where he stayed for 20 years. In 1652, he was sent to Rome, and was able to reestablish his scientific partnership with his master, Kircher. Three years later, he moved back to Germany, first to Mainz, then to Würzburg, where he taught mathematics and physics until his death.
Schott is particularly famous as the author of the Mechanica hydraulico-pneumatica (1657), which contains some of the first descriptions of the experiments on the vacuum, amongst which is the extremely famous von Guericke experiment. Gathering together, in a dense web of correspondence, reports and opinions of the most important savants (von Guericke, Huygens, Boyle), he made a noteworthy contribution to the diffusion of the most advanced knowledge of pneumatics (he was, for example, the first man in Germany to provide news of Boyle's studies on the air-pump).
On the theoretical level, Schott claimed that the experiments of von Guericke, Torricelli and Boyle had not produced real vacuums, because the space freed from air was in fact filled with ether, a more impalpable and refined matter. Nevertheless, he recognised that the effects which had traditionally been ascribed to the horror vacui were in fact produced by the pressure and elasticity of air.





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