Evangelista Torricelli

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Torricelli, Evangelista

(āvänjālē`stä tōr-rēchĕl`lē), 1608–47, Italian physicist and mathematician. He was Galileo's secretary (1641–42) and his successor as professor of philosophy and mathematics at Florence. He invented the barometer (1643), called the Torricelli tube, and a microscope, and he improved the telescope.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Torricelli, Evangelista


Born Oct. 15, 1608, in Faenza; died Oct. 25, 1647, in Florence. Italian mathematician and physicist.

Torricelli studied mathematics in Rome under B. Castelli, a former student of Galileo’s. In 1641 he moved to Arcetri, where he became Galileo’s secretary. In 1642, after Galileo’s death, Torricelli was appointed the court mathematician of the grand duke of Tuscany and professor of mathematics at the Florentine Academy.

Torricelli is best known for his work in pneumatics and mechanics. In 1644 he developed a theory of atmospheric pressure; he demonstrated the production of what is called the Torricellian vacuum, and he invented the mercury barometer. In his principal work on mechanics, Treatise on the Motion of Freely Falling and Projected Bodies (1641), he developed Galileo’s concepts of motion, formulated the principle of the motion of centers of gravity, laid the foundations of hydraulics, and presented an equation for the speed of efflux of an ideal liquid from a vessel (Torricelli’s law). Torricelli also made contributions to mathematics (for example, he worked on the method of indivisibles) and ballistics. He made improvements in optical instruments and wrote on lensgrinding techniques.


Opere di Evangelista Torricelli, vols. 1–4. Faenza, 1919–44.


Zeuthen, H. G. Istoriia matematiki v XVI i XVII vekakh, 2nd ed. Moscow-Leningrad, 1938. (Translated from German.)
Dorfman, Ia. G. Vsemirnaia istoriia fiziki s drevneishikh vremen do kontsa XVIII veka. Moscow, 1974.
Gliozzi, M. Istoriia fiziki. Moscow, 1970. (Translated from Italian.)
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Many of his supporters were religious as well as secular academicians, among them the Benedictine monk, Benedetto Castelli, and the inventor of the barometer, Evangelista Torricelli. Through the intercessions of such devotees, his work Two New Sciences was published in Holland.