Giovanni Battista Benedetti

Born: 14 Aug 1530 in Venice, Italy
Died: 20 Jan 1590 in Turin, Italy

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Giovanni Benedetti was taught philosophy, music and mathematics by his father. After the age of seven he seems to have had no formal education and certainly did not attend a university. Benedetti studied Euclid's Elements under Tartaglia, probably about 1546-1548, although they seem to have fallen out with each other.

Benedetti was court mathematician to Duke Ottavio Farnese at Parma from 1558 until 1566. The following year he became ducal mathematician and philosopher, employed by the Duke of Savoy, a post he held until his death. He is also known to have taught in the University of Torino.

Benedetti was an important forerunner of Galileo, worked on the free fall of bodies and proposed a theory almost identical to that which Galileo published in De motu in 1590.

Benedetti wrote a treatise on perspective De resolutione (1553), on mechanics and on Euclid's Elements . While at Parma he made astronomical observations. He published a book on sundials and also designed and constructed sundials and fountains.

He made some small contributions to music and to optics. His work on the later topic included work on a camera obscura.

He forecast his death for 1592 but, on his deathbed, he recalculated saying that the original data he used was 4 minutes in error.

References (9 books/articles)

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Rice University, USA

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JOC/EFR December 1996