Giovanni Alfonso Borelli

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Borelli, Giovanni Alfonso


Born Jan. 28, 1608, in Naples; died Dec. 31, 1679, in Rome. Italian naturalist. Professor at the universities of Messina (1649) and Pisa (1656). Did research in the fields of physics, astronomy, and physiology.

In 1670, Borelli established the inverse relationship between the height of a volume of fluid in a capillary tube and its diameter. He invented the heliostat. In his work on the movement of the planets (1666) he put forth the proposition that the movements of heavenly bodies are caused by the interaction of two forces—centrifugal and centripetal. Borelli was a major figure in iatromechanics. He worked out problems of anatomy and physiology from the point of view of mathematics and mechanics. He proved that the movements of the extremities and parts of the body in humans and animals in lifting weights, walking, running, and swimming can be explained by the principles of mechanics. He was the first to interpret the movement of the heart as a muscular contraction; he established the passivity of lung expansion by studying the mechanics of movements of the thorax.


De motu animalium, vol. 1. Rome, 1680–81.


Rosenberger, F. Istoriia fiziki, 2nd ed., part 2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1937. (Translated from German.)
Nordenskiöld, E. Die Geschichte der Biologie. Jena, 1926.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Thus, in 1680 the Italian physiologist Giovanni Alfonso Borelli (1608-1679) posthumously published a book, De Motu Animalium (Concerning Animal Motion), in which he successfully explained muscular action on a mechanical basis, describing the actions of bones and muscles in terms of a system of levers.