Person: Valerio, Luca
Luca Valerio was an Italian mathematician who applied methods of Archimedes to find volumes and centres of gravity of solid bodies. He corresponded with Galileo.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- His skill as a teacher was amply repaid by the remarkable mathematical achievements of his pupil Valerio who remained at Collegio Romano after taking his first degree and was awarded a doctorate in philosophy and theology.
- After taking his doctorate, Valerio continued to live in Rome teaching both private pupils and having public teaching appointments.
- From about 1600 Valerio, still at Sapienza, began to teach mathematics which he continued to do for the rest of his life.
- In addition to these teaching positions, Valerio was also corrector of Greek at the Vatican library for many years.
- He certainly played a role in Valerio's appointment to Sapienza in 1591 and Valerio thanked him with a dedication in his work of 1604.
- This was in distinct contrast to Valerio who was described as a shy, very withdrawn and isolated person.
- The two became lovers but Margherita Sarrocchi totally dominated the relationship, being possessive and jealous of anything in Valerio's life that did not involve her.
- Valerio's De centro gravitatis solidorum Ⓣ(On the centre of gravity of solids), written in 1603, applied methods of Archimedes to find volumes and centres of gravity of solid bodies, in particular solids of rotation and their segments.
- Although the topic had been treated earlier by his immediate predecessors, Commandino and Maurolico, Valerio felt, and the authors of this study agree, that his work marked an innovation in its investigation of all solids known at the time.
- (The authors mean this claim in the sense that Valerio was the first to systematize this ancient device, in the first three theorems of 'De centro'.) In applying these general theorems to the solution of a wide class of problems, Valerio thus advanced beyond his ancient Renaissance predecessors.
- Galileo was highly impressed by this work and, much later in 1638, described Valerio as "the greatest geometer, the new Archimedes of our age".
- Their mutual admiration following the publication of Valerio's book led to a renewal of their friendship begun in Pisa fourteen years earlier.
- Among Valerio's other works was Quadratura parabolae Ⓣ(Quadrature of a parabola) (1606).
- From 1609 until 1616 Valerio corresponded with Galileo, each showing great respect for the mathematical ability of the other.
- On 7 June 1612 Valerio was elected to the Accademia dei Lincei.
- It was Galileo who proposed Valerio to Federico Cesi who founded the Academy.
- Valerio also played a crucial role in the publication of Galileo's 'Letters on the sunspots' of 1613.
- The fact that the Jesuits of the Collegio Romano, who five years earlier had so lauded Galileo, were now silent was one thing: but from Valerio the Linceans expected greater consistency, to say the least.
- Reiterating their complete solidarity with Galileo, they deprived Valerio of his voting rights and forbade him from ever again participating in the sessions of their society.
- Bitterly they noted that by expressing the wish to resign, Valerio had implied that the Academy itself had committed a crime or a grave error in supporting the view of the movement of the earth; and that in accusing his old friend Galileo of this same "error", he had overlooked the fact that Galileo had only held the movement of the earth to be a hypothesis.
- Now let us try to understand why Valerio behaved in the way that he did.
- It is possible that Valerio's closeness to the Vatican meant that he was aware that the Church was going to move more firmly against Galileo, yet his behaviour in resigning was out of character.
- The most likely explanation for Valerio's resignation relates to the poet Margherita Sarrocchi.
- She was undoubtedly jealous of Valerio's close association with the Accademia dei Lincei and it would appear that Valerio, being totally under her influence, had been pushed to act out of character to please Sarrocchi.
- Certainly if Valerio thought that his actions would prevent him from losing respect, he was totally wrong, for his spent the remaining two years of his life in obscurity and disgrace.
Born 1552, Naples, Kingdom of Naples (now Italy). Died 17 January 1618, Rome, Papal States (now Italy).
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Tags relevant for this person:
Analysis, Origin Italy
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive