Alessandro Volta!



Alessandro Volta was born in Como, the youngest of seven brothers, February 18, 1745, by Don Filippo Inzaghi and women's accounts of Mary Magdalene. As was the custom at the nobility of the time, Alexander was put out to nurse for almost three years with a woman whose husband was a successful manufacturer of barometers and thermometers, so that a plaque says that "instilled a love for science that led to the pile. " It is said that Alexander was late to talk and up to seven years is very uncertain in the talk, but soon reveals special skills and interest in the study, so as to exclaim to his father Philip, "I had a diamond in the house and I had not prudent "(3). The untimely death of Philip (1752) - who had squandered a fortune with his all too happy extravagance - the family is forced to split up: Alexander, with his mother and three sisters (Maria, Cecilia and Clare: the first two dresses after the monk's habit), it should be with his uncle Alexander, canon, while the other three brothers (Joseph, Louis and John) will relocate from another uncle, Anthony and the archdeacon, according to the custom of the time, soon embrace the vocation of his uncles (two in the cathedral chapter and the third the Dominican Order).

In 1757 Alexander began his classical studies, rhetoric and philosophy at the College of Jesuits at Como and it appears that, despite the liveliness of character, was always first in his class to get up an hour for what others take much longer and devoting all the time "saved" the study of natural phenomena so that at 12 he composed a treatise on the subject of considerable interest. Stands out in Latin and Italian - the favorite authors are Virgil and Tasso, but also reads the De rerum natura of Lucretius, and imitating him, wrote a poem of 492 Latin hexameters on the latest discoveries in physics - and alone, to 13 years , learn French. Full Time encyclopedic affects the determination of anti-Catholic to study these texts to refute errors.

No wonder then that such a boy - a good family, spiritually and intellectually equipped example - attract the special care of the Jesuit Father G. Bones, then a teacher of rhetoric and philosophy in the College of Como, but with careful fisherman vocations (4). In fact, at that time once wrote some poems that showed obvious signs of vocations, also confirmed in more than 30 letters exchanged with Bones and in the memories of Gattoni, well-founded opinion that the vocation of Alexander. This friend of Volta (later priest) was used as a secret intermediary between the two when the persecution broke out of his uncle, the canon Alessandro. So, play with the conflicting interpretations, it seems to say that the subtle nets Bonesi slack but was abundant in some spiritual advice until considered the vocation of Alexander, and, although disappointed and bitter tones, he set aside when he saw it collapse under the blows of the relatives who took away from him and put him in the seminary Benzi (5).

It is a period, however, in which Alexander writes very, composing poems in Latin, Italian and French, while also confirming its biblical-theological interests, we recall that in 1762, 17 years, while homes in Gravesend, writes well 11 notebooks, without the use of any text, in which he argues (against Gattoni friend) and also in animals there is any principle of spirituality. Finally, this episode is revealing to confirm what was instinctively turned to look at all natural phenomena. When the farmers of Monteverde told him that the water source of the gold particles were, Volta reached the place and so he leaned from the shore to observe, that fell into the water, risking drowning. The gold particles were only the reflections of yellow mica. Conclusion: finished high school at the seminary Benzi, despite pressure from his uncle's canon because undertake forensic studies, abandons all self-taught curriculum rules and procedures in the study of electrical phenomena (6).

And rhythms of the overwhelming genius scientist Volta

In 1769, just twenty-four, he published his first work titled De vi ac electric attractiva ignis phaenomenis independentibus dedicated to Beccaria. In this work, frequent type of correspondence at the time, and again painted a research program aimed at unifying the forces of electrical attraction with those of Newtonian origin. In 1771 he wrote a second job, this time dedicated to Spallanzani, professor of natural sciences at the University of Pavia, with whom he recently was in contact letters, dealing with physics and biology. In this work, inter alia, presents a new electrostatic machine "disks and insulators with well-toasted wood." In 1774, pressed by financial needs, ask for a teaching position, attaching these two works, which fascinated the Count Firmian, Minister Plenipotentiary of the Habsburg Empire in Lombardy, who appointed him supervisor (ie principal) and then professor of Experimental Physics in the Royal School of Como (7). But the new responsibilities did not prevent him from continuing the research and investigating what has been theorized in De attractiva there, built (in 1775) a new device capable of providing electricity without the need for continuous friction, as in electrostatic machines then in use. This new tool, called by the same Time "electrophorus perpetual" is now used in all European laboratories, so that gaining an international reputation in the Volta, which he cleverly developed with numerous study trips to Germany, Switzerland, Holland, France, England and Austria (8).

In 1778 Count Firmian appointed him professor of physics at the University Detail Ticinense and in 1785, according to the practice of the time, the students elect the rector. Pavia at the university - where, thanks to the foresight of the Empress Maria Theresa, had been called L. Spallanzani, A. Scopoli, both Fontana and, later, A. Scarpa, L. Brugnatelli etc.. - The face is not only dedicated to teaching, but also to restructure the physics laboratory, enriching it with many instruments, designed directly or bought during his travels abroad (9). Finally, a nod deserves Galvani-Volta controversy that, among other things, it is critical for the subsequent invention of the stack. In 1792, aware of the experiments of Galvani on animal electricity in disbelief begins to repeat: at first agreed but then considering the contractions of the frog is not due to an electricity animal but an electricity outside, caused by contact of the two metals that make up the arch. The frog then assumes the role of a simple (but sensitive) electroscope. The hypothesis Volta, Galvani and dismissed by supporters of animal, initiates a dispute that involves the European scientific world by dividing it into Galvanians and Volta (10).

Inevitably, even with the fame came the honors. After notifying his invention in 1800 at the Royal Society of London, Volta demonstrates the battery in 1801 at the Institut de France, this Napoleon Bonaparte, who rewards him with a gold medal (11). How do you remember Lucati, in the same library of Napoleon cleared the last three letters of the inscription "To the great Voltaire" and remained "the great vault." But the Como area was so humble to write: "In the midst of many things that must certainly please me, and I'm very flattering, I do not believe m'invanisco to sign more than you are, and the comfortable life of a vain glory prefer the tranquility of domestic life. " And so we move on to describe the human face, full of ethical and spiritual qualities, but mixed with human failings.

About the portrait of the physicist Volta, here is what he writes T. Bianchi: "It was a tall person, well configured, gait and full of that majestic grave negligence, which is characteristic of attention, dedicated to great meditations that sees nothing of him around. [...] The features were well pronounced, but neither bitter nor harsh, nor proud, and if his eye does not blink from the fire of genius proud, shining tip penetrating the deepest reflection. His face, rather than being stern to stern frown, or superb in disdainful lip, was majestic for human kindness, and venerable sweet majesty "(12). With regard to the great distance and the high quality of mind even include the Smith: "His manner was full of dignity and unaffected modesty, and were of the graceful courtesy, which manages more acceptable in large characters. [... ] Indole sweet, gentle, was joined in wisdom and glory to raise pride in the most contemptuous of cynics, and the lively and creative genius was paired white costume, and so many and so beautiful virtues were crowned by the most sincere and most wonderful humility. [ ...] Good father, good husband, he was the idol of the family liberal, courteous, was very dear friends; pity the unhappy, was blessed by the poor man. [...] It was a buoyant mood, very good friend of the innocent joke, amusing and erudite and cultured and cheerful brigade at a time. [...] His life moderated by the more temperate sparingly "(13).

For its part, Canon Gattoni friend observes: "Time of the singular character was not always to exalt never in nothing, not any gazes from top to bottom, as is the custom of some wise men to be family friendly with all, adapting to the ability of each without contempt, and to be desired in all walks of life-giving as the soul of society. I know who made them for friends, and betrayed his secret, but he Veruno could complain. " Finally, these qualities must be added a considerable self-control, which allowed him to remain calm even in their time of most risky. So Pavia (in 1796) when he was the subject of violent uproar on suspicion that favored the transfer of the University in Milan, not only fearlessly faced the thugs who insulted him, but also, as reported by Polvani, "although it warned that it was seen the evil eye and would do well to retire from thence [from Borromeo College] and Pavia, he also went to Bottegone [then Demetrio Café]. In the evening we also went to the theater, braving the hot ire of opponents. Even there there were those who warned of the retreat, but he did it not "(14).

But all that humility and modesty - to the point of irony about the triumphs parigini15 - does not make him indifferent to honors and awards, especially when accompanied by economic benefits, or appointments to the various academies were the sole initiative of others. So too is zealous in informing scientists all over Europe, when it comes to important results, in order to keep the substance of priorities (16). And yet, as sensitive to issues of priority, the Volta never opened legal proceedings, content to assert its rights in private letters or at least in academic discourse. The mild-tempered and an instinctive prudence rendered him unable to start farming issues that could have excited the minds, raising inevitable resentment and envy.

On the rural roots of the soul once very biographers have written: here we limit ourselves to two significant tests. The first is that simplicity of manners reported by M. Monti: "A Camporra, volentierissimo sull'aja mingled with peasants in the wine cellar, and rustic benches in the kitchen. The strangest things on their own in the world, showed some physics experiment, or proposed riddles. Adagiatesi at the time of harvest to their tables a bit 'happier than usual, ate with their macaroni and polenta, rice. servivasi Ei hand, as the heroes of Homer and pole [...] drank from the bottle. " The second is that innate modesty which made him avoid issues which could emerge in all its value and therefore themselves to embarrass the other party. A shame that not only loves the line and say simple - perhaps taking refuge behind the jokes - but also hates big words or abstruseness. The first aspect, observed C. Canterbury: "To hear him talk to the home or had a good time between peasants and workers, as soon as you have believed that he was high, so the superabound those jokes, which often stem from a mind or insipid or evil, but that his lip rained without offending person, and almost re-created in the studios of a weary spirit. " The big words, though - abundant in the academic world - them lamented: "It scares me the title of a book that I came to blows recently: Cosmic Archontologia. I like the technical terms, the scientific vocabulary, but sometimes I wish they had while the magical, to say the devil "(letter dated August 4, 1776, to M. Landriani).

Many other ideas are in the relationship between Time and colleagues, first at the high school Como - idyllic four years - and at the University Ticinense, in the many years of teaching (17). We simply recall that the University of Pavia, between 1765 and 1785, "the scientists talk about Europe as a whole" (Masks), thanks not only to the aforementioned Brugnatelli, G. and M. Fountain or Spallanzani, but also to A. Scarpa - anatomy, dismissed in 1798 (as Oriani and Galvani in Bologna) for refusing the oath Jacobin -, S. A. Tissot, Lausanne called by the Chair of Clinical (succeeded by P. Frank, from Göttingen), P. Tamburini in the chair of moral philosophy and natural law (with Zola at the head of Jansenism Lombard), V. Mountains in the Chair of Eloquence (later covered by U. Foscolo) and many others. Thanks also to his happy nature, the Volta had many friends both at Como (Gattoni, Giovio etc..) And Pavia - from Frank to Foscolo (who was among the audience of his lectures and gave the opening address of the office of the literature, with autograph dedication), from shoes to Tamburini etc.. - Or in terms of half of Europe (Lichtenberg in Göttingen, Lavoisier in Paris, Magellan, physical Portuguese settled in England, Saussure in Geneva, etc.). But he also, as is the case particularly among intellectuals and their academic factions, various accidents. Famous is the one with the Spallanzani. The story dates back to 1785-86, when he was rector of the Volta. While it is far Spallanzani, in Constantinople, three professors - G. Fontana, Scarpa and Scopoli - and the keeper of the museum, canon S. Turn, accuse him of stealing samples of minerals in the University Museum to enrich his private collection. Returning the Spallanzani was established a process, the accused presented to Count Wilzech, Austrian plenipotentiary, his defense and obtained absolution. The accused were warned, the custodian removed. What follows has the grottesco18, but clearly shows how arrogant and vindictive was the Spallanzani, while the Volta tried to settle the dispute and to remove the friend Scopoli the tide of ridicule. The Spallanzani the opportunity and accused the Time to be not only a shadow Chancellor - who did not intervene at the time to stop the culprits - but also useless as a teacher, because it does not explain the principles of geometry, algebra and mechanics but speaks only of air, heat, electricity.

Finally a few words on the affects of time, usually calm but at least in one case, were stormy. A story that, far from shocking, makes Comasco more human, or at least, not too disembodied (19). In fact, after the youth Amoretti and harmless flirting romantic - poetically stylized in his poems - the soul and body are now in full manhood and feel the anxiety of a full love and a woman with whom to forge a link of life. But it was not Peregrini Teresa - who married in 1794 - the one who first loved the Volta and wished for a wife. Another preceded it, Marianna Paris, Rome, singer of theater, which was tied with a long and troubled love (1788-92). In fact, the Volta, attending, feel that this woman is creeping ever more into his heart, to trigger an intense passion. Eventually, after several internal conflicts and clashes with the prejudices of the bourgeoisie and of provincial Puritan tradition, he wrote to his older brother, Canon Louis, confiding that it had tried in vain to break away from her and that would make the last attempt. If it increased the pain away, then begs him not to oppose but to take care of his physical and spiritual peace. In fact, he admits: "After a period of excesses, and free and loose, run back to Amoretti vague, but now that I gave to a love hard, I feel that I will be honest and regolatissimo with a legitimate attachment.

Significantly it was the same Marianne who wanted the family was informed. Alexander thought instead of concealing the relationship and to address the topic of marriage only when the obstacle was removed due to the occupation of her partner. That act sparked the mayhem of loyalty: not only angry rose family, but also the count Wilzech; only friend and colleague Tamburini supported him because, as a good Jansenist, he believed that at that point the honest consistency should prevail (with marriage) on any other convenience or hypocrisy. In a letter dated October 1789, Time takes time: spend three years in supplication on the one hand, and the other in opposition. After fears that Marianna, if left, descend the slope and you lose: you just have to marry her and keep her secret in Milan (20). This attempt also failed, to surrender itself is Marianna, while Alexander feels that now need to find a woman for life. Already looking for new ladies to storm his heart: the noble woman Antoinette Giovio Rovelli and Juliet, but Teresa will Peregrini to dull, September 22, 1794, in the church of San Provino in Como: "Diva while she - writes Rota - but the hearth. " That gave him not only an unspeakable domestic peace, but also three children: Louis, Flaminio and Zanini. The second, then, that showed strong inclination for mathematics, he predicted that he would emulate his father. I am happy years and relatively calm, but with 1814 - when Flaminio (eighteen) died of encephalitis - and begins the downward Volta intensifies the deep religiosity of all time, which now touches on almost mystical.

alessandro Volta: really a believer, in spite of everything

Despite the unpleasant events just related, the good qualities of the soul Volta, far against cracking leaving consolidated. Even more true in the religious dimension, which begins with the already mentioned rich Jesuit vocation of prayer, mortification and intense spiritual life, as appears From the letters (Vol. I, Letters 5.13, 22, 27, 32, 35). An intense spiritual life - even daily Mass, the Sacraments (Confession and Communion), the daily recitation of rosario21, catechism -, attenuatasi minimally over the years and always fed with biblical studies and theology and apologetics. Felice is this synthesis of Canterbury: "fond of his religion, not only out of habit, but the effect of long meditations, did not neglect the delight of prayer and the external forms of worship, even when fashion dictated that every man ought vulgare feed or slice contempt for what had been sacred to our ancestors. " Also interesting to learn that during years of teaching at the high school Como was not unseemly to teach Christian doctrine to children in the parish church of San Donnino, where a plaque still emphatically that "here he prepared himself by teaching catechism to the miracle of the pile" (22 ). Where, then, in 1778, was called the University of Pavia, and it was impossible to continue this teaching, this does not often leave - in Pavia and in churches of various cities where he went or home - an explanation of Christian doctrine , usually through the homily of the Mass and festive, especially during vespers.

Just that his keen and constant interest in the depth of faith is probably the basis of his encounter with Tamburini, an apostle of Jansenism Lombard together with G. Zola (23). Built in France, this religious movement spread from Port-Royal in the whole of Europe, calling for a return to the original lines of the early church, more or less summarized in this thesis: most of the rites count the faith and the spirit of charity, the 'man to be freed from priestly mediation and devotional forms, must

communicate directly with God, a stern moral (and not the laxity Jesuit) must guide the practical life, the Church is organized according to democratic principles, putting an end to the absolutist centralism Roman Pope, the Bishop of Rome, upon himself the authority a universal Council, the monastic orders had to be deleted, because they belonged all'inerte contemplative life, the State had to emancipate themselves from this Church and renounce his temporal power.

Biographers dispute the causes (and the degree of membership) that guide the Jansenist Volta. A favorable circumstance can be found in the fact that the extremist movement easily touching sentiment and idealism of young people (the Volta, at the time he was 35 years old). You may feel that he, driven by its own logical rigor, I have seen in Jansenism a refinement of traditional Catholic piety (24). Finally, if we see a movement of Jansenism in the purification of the Church - on the line, for example, of St. Charles Borromeo, instead of "a wave of hostility towards the Society of Jesus" (E. Rota) -, then it seems strange, considering the intense spirituality and a culture of theological Volta, that he sympathized with that movement.

Finally, omitting several other tests, we recall two incidents in 1815 which best illustrate not only the conjugation of faith and science in Time, but his zeal in helping those who were in crisis of faith. First there is the encounter with Silvio Pellico the summer residence of the Counts Porro - Silvio was tutor of their children - testified in the letter of the Pellico Porro (September 22, 1815), perhaps followed by others (but not documented). A subsequent lyric Pellico (25) then we know that he was practically an atheist and said that the face with such items to be in my heart the seed of faith which then mature in the prison of Spielberg. The other episode concerns the "profession of faith," sent to the canonical G. Ciceri Como (letter 1703), which literally writes: "I is not true in the good works of Catholic Christian and I have made guilty of many faults, but by special grace of God I do not seem to have seriously failed to faith, and they certainly had never abandoned. Are those my faults and disturbances have led to some of suspicion in me even disbelief proclaim to him, and any other person, and I am ready to declare in every meeting, and no matter what, I always hold and keep for only true and infallible this holy religion, endless thanking the good Lord for giving me such faith infused in which I intend to live and die with firm hope of eternal life. "

At the end of this long overview Volta - but in reality is just the tip of the iceberg - we can say that the face is deeply penetrated in the great book of nature, and in that of Christian revelation, and that research the law their physical and imprisoned his mind in the matter, but made it easier to hear the voice of Being first, immutable and necessary that it drew him mightily. And when, after 1814 - with the untimely death of her second and the end of the Napoleonic myth - everything seems to collapse, he gradually abandoned the scene of the world that had given so many honors and intensifying its union with God, retires country villa in Camnago (1819), where he died March 5, 1827.
he first official opening of the celebrations Volta was held March 19, 1999 at the Accademia dei Lincei in Rome and continued the next day at Como, the birthplace of the scientist, and Pavia, where he played for more than 30 years' s scientific and teaching activities. In particular in Pavia was inaugurated Cabinet physicist Volta, where all the relics were collected Volta owned by the University. This will host during the event, which will close March 20, 2000, numerous events, among which include: a) international conventions, to illustrate not only the figure and work of the scientist in Lombardy, but all applications resulting the invention of the stack b) exhibitions and outreach initiatives to raise public awareness (especially students) to the celebrations of the bicentenary. Already there is a website, and an interactive exhibition will cover the development of electricity in particular with regard to the contribution of Volta and subsequent applications arising from the invention of the stack. This exhibition will open in Rimini, during the Meeting of Friendship and subsequently affect all the provinces of Lombardy. Recall also the following other exhibitions: "The pile of Volta, a long spark two centuries" (Milan, April 15-May 15), "The electrical equipment 800 (Pavia, September 6 to October 3)" 200 Volt . The bicentenary of the pile "(Como, Sept. 1999)," L'Electricité dans ses premiers [sic] grandeurs: Galvani, Volta, Coulomb "(Pavia, Como, Paris, autumn 1999)," Legacy of Galvani and Volta "( Italian Cultural Institutes abroad, 1999-2000). Finally, the University of Pavia is completing the national edition of the Works of time with a volume on the Volta instrumentation, while the whole work will be digitized and made available on CD-ROM and the Internet.

xcerpt 2, Volta immense bibliography, the works (in chronological order) better cover the aspects touched upon in this paper: Z. VOLTA, A. Volta, Milan, Civelli, 1875; C. Cantu, History of the Italians, 6 vols., Turin, UTET, 1893-96; C. GRANDI, A. Volta, Milan, Bertarelli, 1899; E. ROTA, Austria in Lombardy, Milan, Albrighi, 1911; B. CARRARA, A. The high physical Once a model of devotion to Mary SS. and example of Christian perfection, Treviglio, Messages, 1918; C. VOLPI A. Time in glory and intimacy, Milano, Treves, 1927; C. Polvani, A. Volta, Pisa, Domus Galilean, 1942; M. AZZI GRIMALDI, The life and times of A. Volta, Milan, Murcia, 1961; V. Lucati, Writings Volta, Como, City, 1974; G. BONERA-P. Vanzan, A. Time: the man, the scientist, the believer, Pavia, Casa del Giovane, 1999. Finally we point out the national edition of the Works of A. Time, 7 vols., Milan, Hoepli, 1918-29 and of the correspondence of A. Time, 5 vols., Bologna, Zanichelli, 1949-55, containing 1,905 letters and various appendices.

3 Worth knowing - including the fact that the fallout will have later on Alex - Don Philip had been a member of the Society of Jesus for 11 years (1710-21).

4 In the great laws that the Time "was aided in his studies by the Jesuits, with books and equipment and filled with a thousand waves caresses, of course, inclined to the religion," while most caustic is a letter from his older brother Giuseppe (Letters, vol. I, point 2), which it considers unfounded the vocation of Alexander.

5 The reasons for such hostility towards the possible vocation Jesuit Alessandro appear to be the likely dislike his uncle's canon to that Order - which among other things, you can ventilate the dissolution (which took place later in 1773) - and the negative memory the non-calling of Philip (see footnote 3).

6 Study the texts Musschenbroek, Nollet and Beccaria, three of the leading scientists involved in that period of electricity, and since 1763 embarked on a correspondence with Nollet, which stimulates in theoretical studies, and with Beccaria, who instead urges him to experiment. Two years later he began private practice to attend his friend Gattoni supply it with and made his first experiences of electricity. Its focus on the electrical properties of silk and wood, insulation made by frying in oil for a long time. But with this we enter the chapter of the Volta scientist, we have the suggestions of Professor. Gianni Bonera, University of Pavia.

7 Even in that office Volta proves his genius has created an educational reform, is the Ratio Studiorum of Jesuit College, suppressed the previous year. See Letters, vol. I, Appendix II, with very detailed suggestions on the new teaching and educational.

8 It should be noted that during the summer holidays of 1776 on Lake Maggiore, and rummaging among the reeds with a stick on the bottom of muddy water, sees rise to the surface and then vanish into thin air gas bubbles in abundance. Harvest this gas, it turns out the flammable nature and calls it "inflammable air of native marsh" (this is today's natural gas, the discovery should be attributed to time). The interest for flammable gases leads him to use an electric spark to explode in a confined space, building a device (stun gun-flogopneumatica) later called Volta pistol, and developing an analysis tool of health ' eudiometer called air.

Maggiore, and rummaging among the reeds with a stick on the bottom of muddy water, sees rise to the surface and then vanish into thin air gas bubbles in abundance. Harvest this gas, it turns out the flammable nature and calls it "inflammable air of native marsh" (this is today's natural gas, the discovery should be attributed to time). The interest for flammable gases leads him to use an electric spark to explode in a confined space, building a device (stun gun-flogopneumatica) later called Volta pistol, and developing an analysis tool of health ' eudiometer called air. In the same year he built a perpetual lamp in flammable gas and the idea of ​​transmitting a signal from Como to Milan via a long electric wire, kept in isolation from the ground with wooden stakes. It is the idea that, years later, will find its realization in the telegraph.

9 The teaching of the Volta that followed was so great hall was built at a new hemisphere, which he called "my vague and comfortable theater of physics" (now classroom time). In this period he executed the condensing electroscope, an instrument capable of detecting extremely weak electrical states. Also during this research after you place the concepts of quantity of electricity (Q), capacitance (C) and voltage (V), and arrived at the fundamental relationship of the capacitor (Q = CV). Between 1786 and '92 is concerned, in particular, electricity and meteorology studies the physicochemical properties of gaseous, reaching a determination, ten years before Gay-Lussac, law of uniform expansion of the air.

10 The dispute has uncertain results until the last months of the century, when Volta, exploiting the potential difference due to the contact of two dissimilar metals can achieve by introducing a third conductor electrolyte, a series connection can make contributions individual elements, thus realizing the battery. It was 1799.

11 After Napoleon appointed him senator of the newly formed Kingdom of Italy (1809) and gives it the title of Count (1810). Biographers are happy to go back to these meetings for the admiration of the Volta Bonaparte and moderate sympathy for the French. Not surprisingly, previously, the Jacobins accused him of being Austrianism, while the Austrian's return brought the accusation of semigiacobino. In fact, both the middle-class upbringing and the environment Como naturally inclined him to Austria, but not under the French are less devout (although defining "wise men" who do not side with them, as Frank writes in 1798). Significantly, he called the policy a stormy sea, and country soul with common sense, believed that "divert when the road turns you need to walk." Basically he wanted to proceed in his research, and therefore obeyed by all governments: getting all the help they need to continue their studies, but ran into the charge of opportunism. Emblematic is her get by in the matter of the oath to the Cisalpine Republic (cf. Letters nos. 905-907).

12 Useful and curious addition to offering data that C. Lombroso desunse the Volta remains when, in 1875, were exhumed for the final arrangement in the Volta Temple. The result was the huge cranial capacity (more than 1865 cm3, which is higher than a quarter of the average Italian male skulls). The head circumference (570 mm) was superior to normal proportions, and of the great Italians (except Donizetti).

13 C. For Canterbury meekness of mind - that rejects both the ambition and the spirit of rivalry - is the main quality of the Volta. Suffice to confirm this observation: "In his long career, passed between what they call short-tempered breed of writers, in 148 and 72 autographs its various acts, we gathered at the State Institute Lombardo and valuable collection, not never met an offensive word, a feeling of resentment, nor even hints livid. "

14 Among the many anecdotes ad hoc, we choose a pair, reported by his son Louis, who put together fortitude and humor: "Once attacked in the street by several well-armed robbers, they spoke very frankly, no point quail, so that a judge had to tell him, jokingly, that he had harangued the robbers. Last time, thrown violently from a wood, just rialzatesi ground and stood for some time quietly thinking how he could ever have dusted the side opposite to that of fall ".

About 15 of the stack and triumphs in Paris, resize them with this letter ironic: "The widening of the narrow line and some of my wool in the bulb, and other giocolini have in fact concerned not only the attention of some physicists [...], but of Ministers and the First Consul, and were talked about all of Paris, not that the papers public. Look, say, where do they lose so many heads! I myself, leaving the jokes, I wonder how my old and new findings on the so-called galvanism, which show that nothing be moved by the sheer electricity of metals contact with each other, have produced a lot of enthusiasm. "

16 why he interrupted his friendship with F. Fontana, a professor in Florence. In the letter to Landriani (May 3, 1778), concerning air eudiometer flammable and oxygen production by means other than nitrous acid, after expressing doubt that Fontana was aware of that phone through Baron Dietrich and the Abbot Venini, resolute writes: "My letter to Priestley from the beginning of September [1777], which is published, will show who was the first."

17 "Who was his disciple," attests to the canonical Gattoni, "is testimony to the zeal and interest which he took to educate the youth. He was never the same ones that coll'orecchio strained to hear the beat now and coworkers' eye to spy on the timing of the last month. And after an hour holding the students in a circle until such time as they would liked to hear him, and since there was no physical stromenti at the high school, leading them to the laboratory [that the same Gattoni had made available] and stood for hours in the hill experiments demonstrate that the school had heard of the theory. " On the bunting lessons Bianchi says that "it was frequented by natives and foreigners, and could be heard as so many oracles of science. The method by taking it in teaching was what I had followed in his discoveries. [...] Began by ' point out the phenomena that gave reason to his comments, and 'learned his suspicions, and how these and similar experiments descended to the consequences, so that there never claimed the discovery to prove it afterwards, but in reverse, starting from the causes that had made provision, and moving means pei, with whom he had achieved everything and kept a [...]. In order accurate in the statement of principles, from which, in the narrative of 'proceedings in the description of experiments and the production of evidence; abhorred by all hampered the development of ideas among themselves, and any digression, which amused by the end he has set himself: he used a simple style, but jovial and animated, so that excited the attention not tired, instructing the intellect, not tormented him, delighted in the mind, not bored. "

18 The trachea Spallanzani manipulated a chicken to look like a worm. The Scopoli, known physiologist, classification as a worm, sending a report to the President of the London Academy of Sciences, already warned by Spallanzani. The prank crossed the borders of Europe, while the Spallanzani made it further publicity by publishing, in 1788, five letters addressed to Scopoli and where, in addition to demolishing its value as a physiologist, also attacks the face, be guilty of friend of Scopoli and the other conspirators.

19 About the theme of sex-affective, the Volpati disagrees nineteenth century, believed that the Volta chaste until marriage, and writes: "As the studies the absorption, he was seething in that part of humanity, made up of instincts [.. .] inclined to the ludi of love. " The Lichtenberg (letter of 22 November 1784 at the Wolf) puts it this way in respect of the time: "It's a beautiful man [...] and in a few hours in my house, where we had booze, I noticed [...] that means a lot of electricity of the girls. "

20 For this purpose, then sends a petition to Emperor Leopold II, asking to be transferred to the University of Milan Ticinense. After six months, the answer is negative, it also seems to counter-brother Luigi.

21 We have quoted the Jesuit Carrara information that the times already entered the Marian Sodality in the Jesuit College in Como, where the wishes of the family went to the seminary Benzi, he continued his devotion to Mary in the Congregation of the Oratory fathers directed that the public holiday in the city, youth and noble scholar.

In the work cited in the Big 22 we read: "Almost every Sunday he [...] in a corner of the church of San Donnino, is surrounded by a crowd of youths and young men all intent to learn from the catechism of his lip, it teaches them masterfully. There is no haughtiness in the face, or severity, is all goodness and gentle persuasion, rather than a teacher an expert, is a father among his children and a thousand ways he captivates love, docility, attention. [...] He taught from the Catechism teacher, adapting with comparisons with the easiest examples to the young minds of his listeners, he was among the little boy. Graceful in speaking to cheer her brigatella had innocent jokes, good stories that will brighten up the education and awakened attention. Young people flocked there. Time was not only a scholar, but he had a big heart and he knew that love is the first secret of teaching. The doctrine of the class was once the most crowded and there were often many place. " And, remember that the priests themselves would want to follow those lessons, he adds that "contented himself to go near that lucky class to hear anything of course also the great physicist."

Both Ticinense 23 teachers at the university, but infect not only the face almost all the professors of the Theological Faculty (significantly priests and religious): F. Alpruni, Barnaba, V. Palmieri, cleric regular Oratory S. Perendoli, olive groves, C. Barletti, Piarist. Not forgetting that the ecclesiastical authority was not long against Jansenism, so that the face - as many of my colleagues - believe could follow a perfectly legitimate theological orientation. In any case, when Francis II in 1792 removed the Zola and Tamburini, began to diminish the sympathy Volta, which is further slowed down in 1794 - when the bull was promulgated Auctorem fidei against the Jansenist Synod of Pistoia, and university education theology was placed under the control of ecclesiastical authority - and will switch off completely in 1799.

24 possible hypotheses, but the friend accuses the sympathies of Gattoni Time for Jansenism its theological shortcomings. In fact defends Tamburini and friends "without comprehend well the state of the question," which, "despite his rare talent and physical science that has in some branches, was a matter of moral and theological articles.

Probably 25 of 1834, entitled "A. Volta" and adorned with the motto: "Erat vir ille simplex et rectus et timens Deum (Job 1:1)." In this poem - see Songs and Poems of S. Pellico, Florence, Le Monnier, 1860, 393 hours and Appendix L of the said Letters - Pellico recalls his crisis of faith and the touching words of the Volta.