Person: Ricci (2), Michelangelo
Michelangelo Ricci was an Italian churchman who made some early applications of induction.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Michelangelo quickly profited by these educational opportunities, quickly mastering Latin and Greek.
- Ricci became a friend of Evangelista Torricelli who came to Rome in 1627; in fact both were taught by the Benedictine monk Benedetti Castelli (his name was Antonio Castelli but he took on the name Benedetti when he entered the Benedictine Order).
- When Castelli was away from Rome, Torricelli took over his teaching and, in this way, he also taught Ricci.
- In addition to mathematics, Ricci studied theology and law in Rome, principally because he needed a career which would provide him with a steady income.
- It is clear that de Sluze, Torricelli and Ricci had a considerable influence on each other in the mathematics which they studied.
- Ricci made his career in the Roman Catholic Church.
- Of course, the argument between Galileo and the Church happened long before Ricci was in a position to help (he was only 14 years old when Galileo was tried).
- Ricci corresponded with Vincenzo Viviani about the articles Viviani was writing on Galileo's life and his work, trying to encourage him to get across Galileo's ideas without causing the Church to become upset.
- Ricci's main mathematical work was Exercitatio geometrica, De maximis et minimis Ⓣ(Exercises in geometry, maxima and minima) (1666) which was later reprinted as an appendix to Nicolaus Mercator's Logarithmo-technia Ⓣ(Techniques of logarithms) (1668).
- Ricci dedicated this work to the philosopher and polymath Stefano Gradi (1613-1683), whose interests included mathematics and science - Gradi eventually became Head of the Vatican library.
- A manuscript of Ricci's, devoted to algebra but never published, is in the library of the Mathematical Institute of Genoa.
- It shows that Ricci was familiar with current research in algebra around 1640 which was developing as a result of the work of François Viète.
- In his own time Ricci's fame as a mathematician (which was remarkably high - some believed him to be the best mathematician in Italy of his generation) rested more on the many letters he wrote on mathematical topics, rather than on his published work.
- On 11 June 1644, Torricelli wrote to Ricci his famous letter about his invention of a barometer, showing that he had proved the existence of a vacuum.
- Torricelli wrote again to Ricci giving further details of his experiments on 28 June.
- Marin Mersenne, who was greatly interested in the barometer in the last years of his life, visited Italy in October 1644 and at this time he was able to hold discussions about the barometer with Torricelli as well as with Ricci.
- We note that when Bonaventura Cavalieri died in November 1647, he left a request that Torricelli and Ricci collaborate in editing his unpublished manuscripts and letters.
- Unknown to Cavalieri, Torricelli had died a few days earlier so his request for editing his works fell entirely to Ricci.
- However, Ricci felt that he had too many duties to be able to undertake the task so it was not until 1919 that the remaining material left by Cavalieri was eventually published (some material had been lost by that time).
- As well as having an important role in the development of mathematics and physics through his correspondence, Ricci also took an active role as Roman correspondent in the Accademia del Cimento which was founded in Florence in 1657 by Giovanni Alfonso Borelli and Vincenzo Viviani.
- Beginning in 1666, the Academy published Saggi di naturali esperienze fatte nell'Academia del Cimento sotto la protezione del Serenissimo Principe Leopoldo di Toscan e descrittedal segretario di essa Accademia Ⓣ(Essays on experiments in the Academy of Cimento, under the protection of the Most Serene Prince Leopold of Tuscany and described by the secretary to the Academy) and Ricci acted as an editor for this important journal.
- In 1668, Ricci, in collaboration with Giovanni Giusto Ciampini (1633-1698) and Francesco Nazari (1634-1714), founded the wide-ranging journal Giornale de letterati.
- Ricci was a major figure in the production of the journal until 1675 when he handed over control to his younger colleagues.
- She had broad literary and scientific interests, and the group of scholars she eventually gathered round her in Rome included Ricci.
- However, the Pope's wishes were paramount and Ricci was forced the accept the honour.
- After his death, only a few months later, Ricci's funeral was held in the church of Santa Maria in Vallicella in Rome on 14 May 1682.
- The monument to Ricci erected over the tomb was designed by Domenico Guidi.
Born 30 January 1619, Rome (now Italy). Died 12 May 1682, Rome (now Italy).
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Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive