Pietro Blaserna and the Birth of the Institute of Physics in Rome: A Gentleman Scientist at Via Panisperna

Miriam Focaccia

The life and accomplishments of Pietro Blaserna, a “gentleman scientist” whose greatest legacy is considered to be the Institute of Physics on the Via Panisperna in Rome, of which he was the creator and first director, are presented in this book by drawing on a wealth of archival material. The book is titled “The Life and Achievements of Pietro Blaserna,” and it can be found here. In this capacity, as well as in his previous role as President of the Accademia dei Lincei, Blaserna made significant contributions toward the establishment of a solid institutional foundation for the continued growth of physics in Italy. The author presents the various stages of Pietro Blaserna’s life and career, beginning with an accurate historical reconstruction of the scientific, social, and political context. This serves as the author’s point of departure. Blaser was an intellectual with many facets and a scientist who held several positions in various institutions. He worked tirelessly to promote an effective science and technology policy, which was vital in fostering Italy’s development as a modern nation. Even though Blaserna did not produce any scientific works that went on to influence the course of history, he did establish in Rome a genuine “house of physics” that was complete with contemporary laboratories and apparatus. This book will be of interest to all historians of science and historians of Italy in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as it traces the significant legacy he left behind.