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Ruđer Bošković and the Royal Society

Martinović, Ivica
Ruđer Bošković and the Royal Society, London: Royal Society, London, 2011 (monografija)

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Ruđer Bošković and the Royal Society

Martinović, Ivica

Vrsta, podvrsta i kategorija knjige
Autorske knjige, monografija, znanstvena

Royal Society, London





Ključne riječi
Ruđer Bošković; Royal Society; James Stuart; Christopher Maire; Isaac Newton; Joseph Priestley; Lord Kelvin; J J Thomson

Introduction At ex Phaenomenis Naturae, duo vel tria derivare generalia Motus Principia ; & deinde explicare quemadmodum proprietates et actiones rerum corporearum omnium ex Principiis istis consequantur ; id vero magnus esset factus in Philosophia progressus, etiamsi Principiorum istorum Causae nondum essent cognitae. Newton, Optice (1706), Quaestio 23, pp. 345. But to derive two or three general Principles of Motion from Phaenomena, and afterwards to tell us how the Properties and Actions of all corporeal Things follow from those manifest Principles, would be a very great step in Philosophy, though the Causes of those Principles were not yet discover’d. Newton, Opticks (1730), Query 31, p. 377. The arrival of Ruđer Bošković in the port of London, at sunset on 27 May 1760, marked the beginning of one of the most rewarding chapters of his life. He appeared among English scholars at a mature age, as an established professor of mathematics at the Roman College, the central Jesuit University, and with excellent achievements in the natural and technical sciences, as well as in the humanities. In his Roman days, Bošković’s scientific research developed along three main routes.: The first impulse resulted in mathematical and astronomical works, the fruit of his regular lecturing duties, to which he was appointed in 1740 by Rector Orazio Borgondio, who as*while professor of mathematics, having assured himself of Bošković’s talents, decided to appoint the Ragusan as his successor. The second route of investigation was set in motion by the orders of Pope Benedict XIV. The results were two expert analyses of the cracks on the dome of St Peter’s Basilica (1742-1743), and a geodetic-cartographic expedition from Rome to Rimini (1750-1752), which promoted Bošković into the position of leading expert in technical sciences. The third route is characterised by Bošković’s miscellaneous pursuits: treatises on his own theory of forces, verse on astronomical topics, and reports on archaeological findings. England had thus witnessed the arrival of a scholar of impressive range, inspired to a considerable extent by Newton’s natural philosophy. Roman professor and English scientific elite The Dubrovnik-born polymath simply yearned to meet some of the outstanding English scientists, astronomers in particular. He first became acquainted with James Bradley, the Astronomer Royal, at his observatory at Greenwich. Upon his arrival in London, Bošković met the Earl of Macclesfield, President of the Royal Society, followed by a succession of Fellows of this distinguished scientific academy: James Short, Nevil Maskelyne, James Stuart, Thomas Simpson, . . . “I have not met Dollond yet, nor Franklin, ” he wrote to his brother Baro on 20 June 1760, looking forward to new exciting introductions. James Short showed Bošković his instruments and informed him of Dollond’s new discovery – the achromatic doublet. With John Dollond he discussed the objective micrometer, and with Thomas Simpson diverse geometrical problems. John Bevis most expeditiously translated Bošković’s paper on the approaching transit of Venus into English, to be read at the Royal Society meeting on19 June. James Stuart helped the Ragusan find a publisher for his epic on the eclipses of the Sun and the Moon. Bošković’s visit to England ended with a touching parting with surgeon William Bromfield and his daughter Irene. He was warmly received wherever he went, and in scientific circles proved a welcome participant in discussion, as evidenced by the voluminous correspondence with his brother Baro, in which, literally by the hour, Bošković’s meetings with the English elite are documented. The profound English experience provided an impetus for Bošković’s new contributions to optics and astronomy after 1760. It was incorporated in his project of the Brera observatory (1765), in the papers he wrote as Director of optics in the service of the French Navy in Paris (1774-1782), and in the five volumes of his Opera pertinentia ad opticam et astronomiam printed in Bassano (1785). Boscovichiana in the Royal Society The collections of the Royal Society house valuable documents pertaining to Bošković’s research visit to London: from the proposal that Bošković be elected as Fellow (dated 12 June 1760), to his election to a fellowship at the meeting on15 January 1761 ; from his lecture on the approaching transit of Venus across the Sun on 19 June, to the moment when, at the meeting on11 December, he presented the most recent edition of his epic De Solis ac Lunae defectibus, dedicated to the Royal Society. It was the Boschovichiana in the Royal Society that guided me in my project to elucidate Bošković’s relations with British scholars before and after his London days. Documents, manuscripts and rare books kept at the archives and library of the Royal Society provided material for three stories. A copy of a geodetic report with a new map of the Papal States bound in has drawn attention to Bošković’s successful collaboration with Christopher Maire in Rome (1750-1756). The mention of James Stuart among those who nominated Bošković for election led to the topic of their fruitful collaboration during the archaeological research on Augustus’ Obelisk in Rome (1748-1750). Bošković’s papers on the new kind of micrometer, written in 1777, cast a much-needed light on the relationship between the Ragusan scientist and Maskelyne. Finally, the Royal Society’s rich collection has helped position Bošković’s natural philosophy within a historical framework: from Newton to the three presidents of the Royal Society: Humphry Davy, William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, and J. J. Thomson. While constructing his theory of forces, Bošković was inspired by the last Query of Newton’s Opticks in its first Latin edition from 1706, whereas the works of the three presidents reveal three different approaches to Bošković’s natural philosophy. Two anniversaries Focused on the connections between Ruđer Bošković and the Royal Society, this exhibition marks two important dates: the 300th anniversary of Bošković’s birth and 250th anniversary of his election to a fellowship in the Royal Society. It was upon the prompting of Lady Beresford-Peirse, founder of the International Trust for Croatian Monuments in 1991, that I decided to take upon myself the curator’s task. Her support from the very first draft of the exhibition in June 2010 until the opening has been invaluable. I am indebted to her. Dr Felicity Henderson, Events and Exhibitions Manager in the Royal Society Centre for History of Science, warmly welcomed this exhibition project, and offered selfless assistance particularly with the selection of the exhibition items during my short visit in April this year. Thanks to the assistance of Rupert Baker, I managed to make the most of my research at the Royal Society. I am grateful to the staff of the Royal Society Library for their patience and kind assistance during my research. Two contemporary Croatian artists, painter Viktor Šerbu and ceramicist and glass artist Ljerka Njerš, happily accepted the invitation to contribute to Bošković’s iconography. It is a pleasure to acknowledge my debt to all of them for their valuable support in the preparation of this exhibition. The selected items exhibit Bošković’s numerous relations with the British scientists: the last Query of Newton’s Opticks as a lasting inspiration of the young Jesuit, collaboration with Christopher Maire and James Stuart in Rome, meetings in England in the latter half of 1760, relations with the Royal Society in the 1770s, reception of Bošković’s natural philosophy from Joseph Priestley to the beginning of the twentieth century. Hence this exhibition on a Croatian member of the Royal Society offers an exciting story of the development of science from Newton to J. J. Thomson.

Izvorni jezik

Znanstvena područja


Projekt / tema
191-1911112-1092 - Boškovićeva Theoria philosophiae naturalis i hrvatske filozofske tradicije (Ivica Martinović, )

Institut za filozofiju, Zagreb


Avatar Url Ivica Martinović (autor)

Citiraj ovu publikaciju

Martinović, Ivica
Ruđer Bošković and the Royal Society, London: Royal Society, London, 2011 (monografija)
Martinović, I. (2011) Ruđer Bošković and the Royal Society. London, Royal Society, London.
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