Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Carlo Matteucci

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Physicist, born at Forli, in the Romagna, 21 June, 1811; died at Ardenza, near Leghorn, 25 July, 1868. He studied mathematics at the University of Bologna, receiving his doctorate in 1829. Then he went to the Paris Ecole Polytechnique for two years as a foreign student. In 1831 he returned to Forli and began to experiment in physics. In taking up the Voltaic pile he took sides against Volta's contact theory of electricity. He remained at Florence until his father's death in 1834, when he went to Ravenna and later to Pisa. His study of the Voltaic battery led him to announce the law that the decomposition in the electrolytic cell corresponds to the work developed in the elements of the pile. From the external effect it became possible to calculate the material used up in the pile. In 1837 he was invited by his friend Buoninsegni, president of the Ravenna Hospital, to take charge of its chemical laboratory and at the same time assume the title and rank of professor of physics at the college. There he did most excellent work and soon became famous. Arago, hearing of the vacancy in the chair of physics at the University of Pisa, wrote to Humboldt asking him to recommend Matteucci to the Grand-Duke of Tuscany. This application was successful and there at Pisa he continued his researches. Beginning with Arago's and Faraday's discoveries he developed by ingenious experiments our knowledge of electrostatics, electro-dynamics, induced currents, and the like, but his greatest achievements however were in the field of electro-physiology, with frogs, torpedoes, and the like.

He was also successful as a politician. In 1848 Commissioner of Tuscany to Charles Albert; sent to Frankfort to plead the cause of his country before the German Assembly; 1849 in Pisa, director of the telegraphs of Tuscany; 1859 provisional representative of Tuscany at Turin, and then sent to Paris with Peruzzi and Neri Corsini to plead the annexation of Piedmont; 1860 Inspector-General of the telegraph lines of the Italian Kingdom. Senator at the Tuscan Assembly in 1848, and again in the Italian Senate in 1860; Minister of Public Instruction, 1862, in the cabinet of Rattazzi. He won the Copley medal of the Royal Society of London, and was made corresponding member of the Paris Academy of Sciences in 1844. He published a great deal in English, French, and Italian journals of science. His larger works were:


  • "Lezioni di fisica" (4th ed., Pisa, 1858);
  • "Lezioni sui fenomeni fisico-chimici dei corpi viventi" (2nd ed., Pisa, 1846);
  • "Manuale di telegrafia elettrica" (2nd ed., Pisa, 1851);
  • "Cours spécial sur l'induction, le magnétisme de rotation", etc. (Paris, 1854);
  • "Lettres sur l'instruction publique" (Paris, 1864);
  • "Traité des phénomènes electro-physiologiques des animaux" (Paris, 1844).

WILLIAM FOX