Person: Basso, Giuseppe
Giuseppe Basso was an Italian physicist and mathematician who produced some important results in mathematical physics.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Giuseppe's determination to succeed at his studies and the encouragement of his teachers persuaded his parents to make the necessary sacrifices to allow him to continue beyond the stage where he could have left school and become a full-time worker in the tailor's workshop.
- As an undergraduate Basso had gained a high reputation among his fellow students and also among the professors who taught him.
- Once he began teaching at the University, Basso's career progressed rapidly and he published "Sull'uffizio della matematica nelle scienze sperimentali" Ⓣ(On using mathematics in the experimental sciences) in 1895.
- The professor of experimental physics at the University of Turin was Gilberto Govi (1825-1889) and he was frequently absent from the University and on these occasions Basso substituted for Govi.
- The help he was able to give Govi quickly added to their warm friendship and so Basso was given the opportunity of doing some experimental physics in Govi's laboratory.
- In 1866 a decree of the Minister of War allowed Basso a few month's leave from the Military Academy which gave him the opportunity to work on a "Nota intorno alla determinazione di temperature molto elevate mediante un procedimento calorimetrico analogo a quello seguito da Byström" Ⓣ(Note on the determination of very high temperatures using a similar calorimetric procedure to that followed by Bystrom) which he published in the Memoirs of the Turin Academy of Sciences in 1867.
- Chiò had kept the style of the mathematical physics courses much as Avogadro, and the material covered was relatively elementary with many topics considered as part of mathematical physics by the time Basso was appointed not being included.
- Basso took over responsibility for teaching mathematical physics, being appointed a temporary professor of that topic in 1866.
- Basso was able to make many significant changes, however, but his efforts on teaching meant that for some time he was not able to find the necessary time for major research projects.
- Basso not only brought physical optics into the syllabus, but it also became his main research topic.
- Chiò died in 1871 and in the following year Basso was appointed to be the permanent head of mathematical physics, having held the professorship for the previous five years only on a temporary basis.
- Basso, in addition to heading the department of mathematical physics, also acted as a substitute for Govi in experimental physics.
- The two years 1876-78 were particularly difficult for Basso who, in addition to being in charge of Mathematical Physics and of Experimental Physics at the University, was recalled to teaching at the Military Academy in January 1876.
- Remarkably, these two years of very heavy teaching and administrative duties saw the beginning of a period of intense research activity by Basso.
- One of the reasons for this was that with Govi having left Turin, Basso had full use of the physics laboratory.
- Between 1877 and 1880 Basso had ten papers published, three in 1877, two in 1879, and five in 1880.
- Not only did Basso's career move forward at the University of Turin, but he was also promoted at the Military Academy.
- In addition to important papers on optics and other branches of mathematical physics including magnetism, Basso wrote a number of important obituaries including those of Victor Regnault (1810-1878), Gustav Robert Kirchhoff, Rudolf Clausius, Gilberto Govi (1825-1889) Wilhelm Weber, James Prescott Joule (1818-1889), and Enrico Betti.
- However, Galileo Ferraris explains that Basso denied himself the comforts and luxuries he might have sought and, despite his love of beauty and culture, he denied himself the pleasures offered by theatres and other city art institutions.
- Basso received many honours.
- And we, still astonished and disbelieving, oh! how often we feel in our hearts a gasp, and a shudder in our veins, if in the evening, at the bend in the road, there is present in the shadow, a figure that we remember, the one that always we expect to see, the figure of our poor friend Basso!
Born 9 November 1842, Chivasso, Turin, Kingdom of Sardinia (now Italy). Died 28 July 1895, Turin, 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