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Luigi Palmieri

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Physicist and meteorologist, b. at Faicchio, Benevento, Italy, 22 April, 1807; d. in Naples, 9 Sept., 1896. He first studied at the seminary of Caiazzo, then took up mathematics and the natural sciences in Naples, getting his degree in architecture from the University of Naples. He taught successively in the secondary schools of Salerno, Campobasso, and Avellino, until in 1845 he became professor of physics at the Royal Naval School at Naples. In 1847 he was called to the chair of physics at the university. He began his connection with the meteorological observatory on Mount Vesuvius in 1848 and became its director in 1854, after the death of Melloni. The chair of meteorological and terrestrial physics was created especially for him at the university. He filled it in 1860 together with the position of director of the physical observatory of Naples.

Member of the Royal Society of Naples (Academy of Sciences) since 1861, he became a member of the Academy of the Lincei (Florence) in 1871. Among other honours were the following: Member of the Superior Council of Meteorology, Senator of the Kingdom, Grand Commander of the Order of the Crown of Italy, Commander of the Order of Rosa del Brazile, etc. His work is chiefly connected with the observation of the eruptions on Mount Vesuvius and with the study of earthquakes and meteorological phenomena in general. He watched all the volcanic disturbances at the observatory and nearly lost his life there during the eruption of 1872. He was very successful in the invention and improvement of delicate apparatus. He modified the Peltier electrometer and used it for his investigation of atmospheric electricity during forty years. His seismometer for the detection and measurement of ground vibration was so sensitive that he was able to detect very slight movements and to predict the eruption of the volcano. A modification of the Morse telegraph, an anemometer, and a pluviometer were also among his inventions. His tribute to Galluppi has often been applied to himself: "The Catholic religion was the guide of his studies during life, and, supported by its inexpressible consolation, he left this earth to live forever in heaven."

Reports of his observation and studies at the volcano were published in the "Aunali dell' osservatorio Vesuviano" (1869-73). Numerous memoirs also appeared in the "Rendiconto dell' accademia delle scienze fisiche e matematiche di Napoli", and in the "Atti della R. Acc., Napoli". Among his larger works were the following: "Incendio Vesuviano del 26 Aprile 1872" (Naples, 1872; Ger. tr., Berlin, 1872); "Il Vesuvio e la sua storia" (Milan, 1880); "Nuove lezioni di fisica sperimentale e di fisica terrestre" (Naples, 1883); "Die Atmospharische Elektrizität" (tr., Vienna, 1884); "Les lois et les origines de l'électricité" (tr., Paris, 1885).


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