Bassi, Laura

PHYSICIST, ACADEMIC (ITALY)
BORN 1711, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna - DIED 20 Feb 1778, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna
REAL NAME Bassi, Laura Maria Catarina
GRAVE LOCATION Bologna, Emilia-Romagna: Chiesa Corpus Domini, Via Tagliapietre 19

Laura Bassi was born into the family of a wealthy lawyer. She was educated privately and for seven years Gaetano Tacconi was her teacher. He wanted her to focus on Cartesian beliefs, but she preferred Newtonian science. In 1732 she publicly defended 49 theses in the Palazzo Pubblico and she received her doctorate of Philosophy on 12 May 1732. After defending twelve more theses she was allowed to petition for a teaching position at the University of Bologna and on 29 October 1732 she obtained her professorship in philosophy.

On 7 February 1837 she married Giuseppe Veratti, a fellow lecturer at the University of Bologna. They shared a working relationship as well as five surviving children. Allthough Bologna was relatively progressive regarding women in science, the University still preferred women to live a private live and she gave only one dissertation per year from 1746 to 1777, her subjects ranging from gravity to electricity. Additionaly, she taught privately and also conducted experiments at home.

Cardinal Prospero Lambertini, the future pope Benedict XIV, was an important patron. He encouraged her scientific work and he intervened when others tried to seperate her from her colleagues. Paolo Balbi, the chair of experimental physics, died in 1772. In 1776 she was appointed as his successor with her husband as a teaching assistant. She died in 1778.

Related persons
• corresponded with Voltaire

Images

Gravestone of Laura Bassi at the Chiesa Corpus Domini, Bologna.
Picture by Androom (12 Feb 2017)

 

Sources
Laura Bassi - Wikipedia


Bassi, Ugo

Published: 18 Nov 2018
Last update: 18 Nov 2018