Person: Lorgna, Antonio Maria
Antonio Maria Lorgna or Antonio Mario Lorgna was an Italian mathematician who founded the Accademia Nazionale delle Scienze.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- There is not a misprint in either names we have given above, although the careful reader may have noticed that we have given his middle name once as Mario and once as Maria.
- This was deliberate, for although he was baptised Antonio Maria Lorgna he clearly did not like 'Maria' and in all his publications he gave his name as Antonio Mario Lorgna.
- For Lorgna this was that a period of intense study and he benefited greatly the lessons he received from Antonio Marcovich, a native of Dalmatia and a Colonel in the Venetian army, who was an excellent amateur scholar.
- Lorgna learnt both practical and theoretical aspects of hydraulics and general engineering and also, at this time, he acquired an thorough knowledge of the Croatian and French languages, as well as studying classical Latin and Greek.
- Contarini, struck by Lorgna's quickness of mind and versatility, appointed him as his secretary and interpreter.
- In 1759 Contarini came to the end of his time as governor of Dalmatia, and he arranged for Lorgna to enrol in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Padua, where he attended lectures on mathematics by Giovanni Poleni.
- Although close to the end of his career, Poleni was one of the leading experts on hydraulics and his teaching was important in Lorgna's development as a scientist.
- Colombo was also interested in architecture and just before Lorgna entered the University of Padua he had been involved in a project to restore the university's bell tower.
- Lorgna chose not graduate and after three years he left the University and began his military career in March 1762.
- Lorgna worked at the Military College of Castelvecchio in Verona for the rest of his career teaching courses on trigonometry, mechanics, statics for construction, ballistics and hydraulics.
- Although he was a professor of mathematics, Lorgna, like many scientists at this time, had broad interests including military and civilian engineering, physics, meteorology, agriculture, economics, and chemistry.
- Before we give an indication of Lorgna's contribution to mathematics and other sciences, we look at what many would rate as his greatest achievement, namely the founding of the Società Italiana, the Society of the XL, which has become the National Academy of Sciences of Italy.
- Although Lorgna was the driving force behind founding the Society, nevertheless four other men played an important role as founder members, namely Carlo Barletti (1735-1800) the professor of physics at Pavia University, the mathematician Ruggero Boscovich, the mathematician Gianfrancesco Malfatti, and Lazzaro Spallanzani (1729-1799).
- These four were Lorgna's friends and they discussed setting up a Society over many years.
- On 28 June 1766 Lorgna wrote to Malfatti saying that it was important for Italy to have a scientific journal.
- Over the following ten years discussions went on and by 1776 Lorgna and Malfatti were discussing Lorgna's "idea of forming an Academy for all Italian scholars".
- Barletti was also worried that they might not get the highest quality research, but Lorgna, who was confident that the project would succeed, pushed their doubts aside.
- On 1 March 1781, Lorgna went ahead with his proposal sending out a circular letter to top scientists.
- Lorgna, however, was confident in his proposal and advised all his friends to "stay calm".
- Lorgna wrote in the Preface to this first part that "the disadvantage of Italy is that its forces are divided" and that it was necessary "to start combining the knowledge and work of many famous separated Italians" in a single association that "was not of any one State but of all of Italy".
- The Society, he wrote, "belongs to the whole of Italy, not just to a single city." Lorgna was the first President of the Società Italiana, holding this role until his death in 1796.
- It is worth realising that this "Italian Society" was proposed by Lorgna about 100 years before the unification of Italy that took place in 1861.
- Lorgna undertook a variety of scientific tasks after taking up his duties at Castelvecchio in Verona in areas as diverse as mathematics, physics, hydrodynamics, meteorology and chemistry.
- Among Lorgna's eighty works on mathematics, chemistry, hydraulics and topography, we mention in particular Della graduazione de' termometri a mercurio e della rettificazione de' barometri Ⓣ(Of the graduation of mercury thermometers and adjustment of barometers) (1765), De quibusdam maximis, & minimis: dissertatio statico-geometrica Ⓣ(On maxima and minima: a static-geometric dissertation) (1766), Dissertazione sopra il quesito: essendo le pressioni dell'acqua stagnante in ragione delle altezze Ⓣ(Dissertation on the question: is static water pressure due to altitude?) (1769), Opuscula mathematica et physica Ⓣ(Works on mathematics and physics) (1770), Dissertazione sopra il quesito rinvenire il fondamento Ⓣ(Dissertation on the question revive the foundation) (1771), Specimen de seriebus convergentibus Ⓣ(Examples of convergent series) (1775), De casu irreductibili tertii gradus et seriebus infinitis Ⓣ(The case of the third degree and irreducible infinite series)(1776), Saggi di statica e meccanica applicate alle arti Ⓣ(Statical and mechanical tests applied to the arts) (1782), and Principj di geografia astronomico-geometrica Ⓣ(Principles of geometric-astronomical geography) (1789).
- We should also mention the important contributions that Lorgna made to chemistry.
- As for all his interests, Lorgna approached this topic by reading the latest works and he decided that he would enter for the Grand Prix of the Paris Academy of Sciences which had as its topic, "Find a cheaper and faster method of production of gunpowder".
- Lorgna was involved in this controversy arguing his case with the Academy and with Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier (1743-1794), president of the second jury.
- Towards the end of his life Lorgna began to suffer from ill health, caused by heart problems.
- His home, on the first floor, has today a plaque attached which reads: "In this house on 28 June 1796, Antonio Maria Lorgna died.
- He was an avid collector of the leading artists of the day including Giotto di Bondone, Andrea Mantegna, Giovani Bellini, Giorgione (Giorgio da Castelfranco), Correggio (Antonio Allegri), Titian (Tiziano Vecellio), Paolo Veronese, Tintoretto (Jacopo Robusti), Jacopo Bassano, and Rembrandt (Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn).
- Close to the time when Lorgna died, Napoleon Bonaparte led his French armies into the north of Italy taking control of Verona.
- The Governor of the Military College of Castelvecchio in Verona who was appointed to succeed Lorgna was Leonardo Salimbeni (1752-1823), who had been Lorgna's student and later his colleague at the Military College.
Born 18 October 1735, Cerea (now Italy). Died 28 June 1796, Verona (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