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Unlike his inventions, the mathematical writings of Archimedes were little known in antiquity.

Amedeo Avogadro (1776-1856)
An Italian scientist famous for his contributions to molecular theory, such as concepts that came to be known as Avogadro's law, Avogadro's number and Avogadro's principle.

In an articles published in 1811, he clearly drew the distinction between molecules and atoms. He explained that what had been so far considered "atoms" of nitrogen and oxygen were in reality "molecules" containing two atoms each. The idea was in complete contradiction with the chemical philosophy of the early nineteenth century which considered that atoms combined in function of affinities based on electrical force. Therefore it was believed that only unlike atoms would be attracted together. The fact that two atoms of the same element  (hydrogen) could combine to form a molecule of hydrogen was completely contrary to scientific knowledge of that time. For that reason Avogadro's work went neglected by the European scientific community for nearly fifty years, until another Italian scientist Stanislao Cannizaro showed the importance of Avogadro's work at the world's first international conference on Chemistry held in Karlsruhe, Germany in 1860. Very shortly after, Avogadro's work was recognized for its brilliant deduction, but in the mean time the main protagonist had died in 1854 he died, an unknown figure.

Avogadro suggested that at constant temperature and pressure equal volumes of all gases contain the same number of molecules, which became known as Avogadro's Principle. According to Avogadro's Principle, the molar volumes of all gases should be the same. The number of molecules in one mole is now called Avogadro's number. The number was never actually determined by Avogadro himself, as he had no knowledge of moles, or of the number of molecules they contained. The presently accepted value of Avogadro's number is 6.0221367x1023.

Giovanni Battista Beccaria (or Giambattista Beccaria, 1716-1781)
 Italian physicist and geodeticist noted for his discovery of the light sensitivity of silver chloride, an important development in photography, and for his precise experimentation and calculations which proved Benjamin Franklin's theory of single-fluid, positive and negative electricity.


Famous Italian Scientists

For the Italian contribution to the field of mathematics,
see: Italian Mathematicians
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Luigi Galvani (1737-1798)
Luigi Galvani was an Italian physician and physicist from Bologna, who had also studied medicine and had practised as a doctor. The recognition by Galvani that muscles and nerves have an electrical component triggered the field of neurophysiology and in turn has produced some of the greatest discoveries in neuroscience. (see book on the right). Galvani's name also survives in the Galvanic cell, the galvanometer, galvanic corrosion,   and galvanization.
Archimedes (c. 287 BC- c. 212 BC)
Archimedes of Syracuse, Sicily was an ancient  physicist, astronomer, engineer and mathematician. Legend has it that he discovered the principle of specific gravity while in the bath. A large part of Archimedes' work in engineering arose from fulfilling the needs of his home city of Syracuse. The Claw of Archimedes, for example, is said to have been designed by Archimedes in order to defend the city of Syracuse. The claw, which consisted of a crane-like arm from which a large metal grappling hook was suspended, could lift a ship out of the water and possibly sink it when the claw was dropped on it.
Fermi was born in Rome on 29th September, 1901 and became American citizen in 1944. At the end of the war (1946) he accepted a professorship at the Institute for Nuclear Studies of the University of Chicago, a position which he held until his untimely death in 1954. He received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1938 for his work on artificial (induced) radioactivity.

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)

Enrico Fermi (1901 - 1954)
Enrico Fermi is considered one of the most important scientists of the 20th century for his work on the development of the first nuclear reactor, and for his contributions to the development of quantum theory, nuclear and particle physics, and statistical mechanics. The particles subject to Pauli's exclusion principle are called "fermions" after his name and the statistical laws governing these particles are called "Fermi statistics".

Enrico Fermi
Rita Levi-Montalcini (b. 1909)
Laureate of the Nobel Prize in Medecine in 1986.

Ettore Majorana (1906-1938)
An Italian theoretical physicist famous for his Majorana equation, which is a linear wave equation involving a unitary representation of the Lorenz group, and consequently infinite-dimensional analogue to the Dirac Matrices. In other words, it is similar to the Dirac equation but includes the charge conjugate ψc of a spinor ψ.

Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937)
An Italian engineer, famous for having invented wireless telegraphy. See: Italian inventors.

Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923)
An Italian economist and sociologist.
The Pareto distribution, Pareto efficiency, Pareto index and Pareto principle are named after him.

Carlo Rubbia (b. 1934)
An Italian particle physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1984 for work leading to the discovery of the W and Z particles at CERN.

Emilio Segrè (1905-1989)
An Italian physicist and Nobel laureate in physics, who with Owen Chamberlain, discovered antiprotons, a sub-atomic antiparticle.

Evangelista Torrecelli (1608-1647)
An Italian physicist and mathematician.

Giovanni Battista Venturi (1746-1822)
An Italian physicist who discovered what is now known as the Venturi effect, the reduction in fluid pressure that results when a fluid flows through a constricted section of pipe.

Alessandro Volta (1745-1822)
Known for having invented the electric battery. See: Italian inventors.

Galileo Galilei was an Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher whose achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations and support for Copernicanism. He has been referred to as the "father of modern physics" and "the Father of Modern Science".
Galvani's Spark
Galvani's Spark:
The Story of the Nerve Impulse
by Alan McComas
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Archimedes to Hawking
Recommended Reading
Archimedes to Hawking:
Laws of Science and the Great Minds Behind Them
by Clifford Pickover
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Atoms in the Family by Laura Fermi
Atoms in the Family:
My Life with Enrico Ferm
by Laura Fermi
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Dialogue concerning the two chief world systems
Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems: Ptolemaic and Copernican
by Galileo Galilei (author), Stillman Drake (Editor, translator)
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