History of physics and History of scientific instruments

History of physics and History of scientific instruments


Giulio Peruzzi , Sofia Talas

Grant holders

Fanny Marcon

PhD students

Valentina Roberti

External collaborators

Giulia Nicchio, Alessio Rocci

Research activities

Researches on the history of physics and on the history of scientific instruments are tightly correlated and concretely intersect in the preservation and valorization of the collections kept at the Museum of the History of Physics. The period studied by the group goes from the sixteenth to the twentieth century.

Some of the topics on which researches focus:
1. Galileo’s work in the context of Scientific Revolution;
2. from pneumatics to electricity: researches on the development of physics from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century, based on the instruments of the Museum of the History of Physics;
3. the diffusion of experimental physics and cabinets of physics in eighteenth-century Europe;
4. James Clerk-Maxwell’s work;

5. celestial mechanics, geophysics, astrophysics and cosmology between the nineteenth and twentieth century: an example of cross-fertilization of science;
the birth and development of relativity theories and of the Standard Model of the Universe;
7. conceptual developments of quantum mechanics: from the origins to the Standard Model of particles;
8. the laboratory of experimental physics: birth and development from the eighteenth century to Big Science;
9. observing and experimenting: researches on the method of modern science from Galileo to the twentieth century;
10. the circulation of scientific knowledge and the connections between universities, schools and the territory between the nineteenth and twentieth century;
11. the history of nuclear and sub-nuclear physics in Padua from cosmic-ray researches to the birth of Legnaro National Laboratories;
12. questions of philosophy of physics;
13. the diffusion of physics and its applications though the promotion of the museum heritage kept at the Department of Physics and Astronomy of Padua

The preservation of archives and oral testimonies, the preservation of instruments and their related documentation, the development of innovative museums, and the setting up of a data-base to integrate different data-bases existing in the University and the territory, are all objectives connected to these researches. They are fundamental elements not only to avoid the loss of an important heritage of history and culture, but also to redesign the didactics and communication of physics (and science in general), and to provide these researches with a new stimulus.

The members of the Group are active in various National or International societies: Società Italiana di Fisica (SIF), Società Italiana degli Storici della Fisica e dell’Astronomia (SISFA), Società Italiana di Logica e Filosofia della Scienza (SILFS), Board member of the History of Physics Group of the European Physical Society, Universeum - European Academic Heritage Network (Sofia Talas has been President from 2010 to 2017), International Council of Museums (ICOM), University Museums and Collections Committee of ICOM (UMAC), Scientific Instrument Commission of the International Union for the History and Philosophy of Science (SIC).