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Paolo Casati

Paolo Casati

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Paolo Casati (1617 – 22 December 1707) was an Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 Jesuit mathematician. Born in Piacenza
Piacenza
Piacenza is a city and comune in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Piacenza...

 to a Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

ese family, he joined the Jesuits in 1634. After completing his mathematical and theological studies, he moved to Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, where he assumed the position of professor at the Collegio Romano. He was given the chair in mathematics after teaching philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 and theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

.

Casati in Sweden


In 1651, Casati was sent on a mission to Stockholm
Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

 in order to gauge the sincerity of Christina of Sweden's
Christina of Sweden
Christina , later adopted the name Christina Alexandra, was Queen regnant of Swedes, Goths and Vandals, Grand Princess of Finland, and Duchess of Ingria, Estonia, Livonia and Karelia, from 1633 to 1654. She was the only surviving legitimate child of King Gustav II Adolph and his wife Maria Eleonora...

 intention to become Catholic
Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

. He subsequently returned to his post at Rome. In 1677, he moved to the Jesuit College in Parma
Parma
Parma is a city in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna famous for its ham, its cheese, its architecture and the fine countryside around it. This is the home of the University of Parma, one of the oldest universities in the world....

, where he remained until his death.

Casati's Terra machinis mota


The astronomical work Terra machinis mota (1658) imagines a dialogue between Galileo, Paul Guldin
Paul Guldin
Paul Guldin was a Swiss Jesuit mathematician and astronomer. He discovered the Guldinus theorem to determine the surface and the volume of a solid of revolution. This theorem is also known as Pappus–Guldinus theorem and Pappus's centroid theorem, attributed to Pappus of Alexandria...

, and Marin Mersenne
Marin Mersenne
Marin Mersenne, Marin Mersennus or le Père Mersenne was a French theologian, philosopher, mathematician and music theorist, often referred to as the "father of acoustics"...

 on various intellectual problems of cosmology
Cosmology
Cosmology is the discipline that deals with the nature of the Universe as a whole. Cosmologists seek to understand the origin, evolution, structure, and ultimate fate of the Universe at large, as well as the natural laws that keep it in order...

, geography
Geography
Geography is the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of Earth. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes...

, astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

 and geodesy
Geodesy
Geodesy , also named geodetics, a branch of earth sciences, is the scientific discipline that deals with the measurement and representation of the Earth, including its gravitational field, in a three-dimensional time-varying space. Geodesists also study geodynamical phenomena such as crustal...

. For example, they discuss how to determine the Earth's dimensions, floating bodies, the phenomena of capillarity, and also describe the experiment on the vacuum
Vacuum
In everyday usage, vacuum is a volume of space that is essentially empty of matter, such that its gaseous pressure is much less than atmospheric pressure. The word comes from the Latin term for "empty". A perfect vacuum would be one with no particles in it at all, which is impossible to achieve in...

 made by Otto von Guericke
Otto von Guericke
Otto von Guericke was a German scientist, inventor, and politician...

 in 1654. The work is remarkable for the fact that it represents Galileo in a positive light, in a Jesuit work, only 25 years after Galileo's condemnation
Galileo affair
The Galileo affair was a sequence of events, beginning around 1610, during which Galileo Galilei came into conflict with the Aristotelian scientific view of the universe , over his support of Copernican astronomy....

 by the Church.

Casati and Theories on the Vacuum


Casati discussed the hypothesis of horror vacui
Vacuum
In everyday usage, vacuum is a volume of space that is essentially empty of matter, such that its gaseous pressure is much less than atmospheric pressure. The word comes from the Latin term for "empty". A perfect vacuum would be one with no particles in it at all, which is impossible to achieve in...

, that nature abhors a vacuum, in his thesis Vacuum proscriptum, published in Genoa
Genoa
Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....

 in 1649. Casati confuted the existence of both vacuum and atmospheric pressure, but he did not rely entirely on scientific observation, and refers to Catholic thought in order to back his claims. The absence of anything implied the absence of God, and hearkened back to the void prior to the story of creation in the book of Genesis (see Vacuum: historical interpretation).

Other works

  • Fabrica et uso del compasso di proportione (1664), a work explaining the construction and use of proportional compasses
  • Le ceneri dell'Olimpo ventilate (1673), a dialogue about meteorology
  • De gli horologi solari (unpublished manuscript): about sundial
    Sundial
    A sundial is a device that measures time by the position of the Sun. In common designs such as the horizontal sundial, the sun casts a shadow from its style onto a surface marked with lines indicating the hours of the day. The style is the time-telling edge of the gnomon, often a thin rod or a...

    construction
  • Exercitationes matheseos candidatis exhibitaæ (1698) (unpublished manuscript): a collection of algebraic and geometrical subjects.

Sources