Augusto Righi

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Augusto Righi
Augusto Righi.jpg
Born(1850-08-27)27 August 1850
Bologna, Italy
Died 8 June 1920(1920-06-08) (aged 69)
Bologna, Italy
Alma mater University of Bologna
Known for Induction electrometer, Microwaves, Magnetic hysteresis
Awards Matteucci Medal (1882)
Hughes Medal (1905)
Scientific career
Academic advisors Antonio Pacinotti
Notable students Guglielmo Marconi

Augusto Righi (27 August 1850 – 8 June 1920) was an Italian physicist and a pioneer in the study of electromagnetism. He was born and died in Bologna.

Italy republic in Southern Europe

Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a country in Southern and Western Europe. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy shares open land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia and the enclaved microstates San Marino and Vatican City. Italy covers an area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi) and has a largely temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. With around 61 million inhabitants, it is the fourth-most populous EU member state and the most populous country in Southern Europe.

Physicist scientist who does research in physics

A physicist is a scientist who specializes in the field of physics, which encompasses the interactions of matter and energy at all length and time scales in the physical universe. Physicists generally are interested in the root or ultimate causes of phenomena, and usually frame their understanding in mathematical terms. Physicists work across a wide range of research fields, spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic and particle physics, through biological physics, to cosmological length scales encompassing the universe as a whole. The field generally includes two types of physicists: experimental physicists who specialize in the observation of physical phenomena and the analysis of experiments, and theoretical physicists who specialize in mathematical modeling of physical systems to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena. Physicists can apply their knowledge towards solving practical problems or to developing new technologies.

Electromagnetism branch of science concerned with the phenomena of electricity and magnetism

Electromagnetism is a branch of physics involving the study of the electromagnetic force, a type of physical interaction that occurs between electrically charged particles. The electromagnetic force usually exhibits electromagnetic fields such as electric fields, magnetic fields, and light, and is one of the four fundamental interactions in nature. The other three fundamental interactions are the strong interaction, the weak interaction, and gravitation. At high energy the weak force and electromagnetic force are unified as a single electroweak force.



Born in Bologna, Righi was educated in his home town, taught physics at Bologna Technical College between 1873 and 1880, and left to take up the newly established chair of physics at the University of Palermo. He was professor of physics at the University of Padua (1885–89) and later returned to a professorship at the University of Bologna.

Bologna Comune in Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Bologna is the capital and largest city of the Emilia-Romagna Region in Northern Italy. It is the seventh most populous city in Italy, at the heart of a metropolitan area of about one million people.

Physics Study of the fundamental properties of matter and energy

Physics is the natural science that studies matter and its motion and behavior through space and time and that studies the related entities of energy and force. Physics is one of the most fundamental scientific disciplines, and its main goal is to understand how the universe behaves.

The University of Palermo is a university located in Palermo, Italy, and founded in 1806. It is organized in 12 Faculties.

Righi's early research, conducted in Bologna between 1872 and 1880, was primarily in electrostatics. He invented an induction electrometer, with the help of Dr. Matthew Van Schaeick of the Humboldt University of Berlin, in 1872, capable of detecting and amplifying small electrostatic charges, formulated mathematical descriptions of vibrational motion, and discovered magnetic hysteresis in 1880. Whilst ordinary professor in physics at the University of Palermo, he studied the conduction of heat and electricity in bismuth. From 1885 to 1889 in Padua, he studied the photoelectric effect. Towards the end of 1889 he was called to the University of Bologna, his home city, where he worked for the rest of his life on subjects such as the Zeeman Effect, 'Roentgen rays', magnetism and the results of Michelson's experiments. [1]

Electrometer scientific instrument to measure electric charge or electrical potential difference

An electrometer is an electrical instrument for measuring electric charge or electrical potential difference. There are many different types, ranging from historical handmade mechanical instruments to high-precision electronic devices. Modern electrometers based on vacuum tube or solid-state technology can be used to make voltage and charge measurements with very low leakage currents, down to 1 femtoampere. A simpler but related instrument, the electroscope, works on similar principles but only indicates the relative magnitudes of voltages or charges.

Magnetic hysteresis

Magnetic hysteresis occurs when an external magnetic field is applied to a ferromagnet such as iron and the atomic dipoles align themselves with it. Even when the field is removed, part of the alignment will be retained: the material has become magnetized. Once magnetized, the magnet will stay magnetized indefinitely. To demagnetize it requires heat or a magnetic field in the opposite direction. This is the effect that provides the element of memory in a hard disk drive.

Padua Comune in Veneto, Italy

Padua is a city and comune in Veneto, northern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Padua and the economic and communications hub of the area. Padua's population is 214,000. The city is sometimes included, with Venice and Treviso, in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area (PATREVE) which has a population of c. 2,600,000.

Righi was the first person to generate microwaves,[ citation needed ] and opened a whole new area of the electromagnetic spectrum to research and subsequent applications. His work L'ottica delle oscillazioni elettriche (1897), which summarised his results, is considered a classic of experimental electromagnetism. By 1900 he had begun to work on X-rays and the Zeeman Effect. In 1903 he wrote the first paper on wireless telegraphy. [2] He also studied gas under various conditions of pressure and ionization, and worked on improvements to the Michelson–Morley experiment from 1918. [3]

The electromagnetic spectrum is the range of frequencies of electromagnetic radiation and their respective wavelengths and photon energies.

Wireless telegraphy

Wireless telegraphy means transmission of telegraph signals by radio waves; a more specific term for this is radiotelegraphy. Before about 1910 when radio became dominant, the term wireless telegraphy was also used for various other experimental technologies for transmitting telegraph signals without wires, such as electromagnetic induction, and ground conduction telegraph systems.

One of Righi's famous pupils was Guglielmo Marconi. Marconi studied under Righi at his lab in Bologna.

Guglielmo Marconi Italian inventor and radio pioneer

Guglielmo Marconi, 1st Marquis of Marconi was an Italian inventor and electrical engineer, known for his pioneering work on long-distance radio transmission, development of Marconi's law, and a radio telegraph system. He is credited as the inventor of radio, and he shared the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics with Karl Ferdinand Braun "in recognition of their contributions to the development of wireless telegraphy".

See also


  1. A. Righi, La Materia radiante e i raggi magnetici, Zanichelli (1909)
  2. A. Righi, La Telegrafia Senza Filo (Wireless Telegraphy) (1901). See also A. Righi, Le nuove vedute sull'intima struttura della materia - Discorso pronunciato in Parma il 25 ottobre 1907 nel Congresso della Società italiana pel progresso delle scienze.
  3. A. Righi, Modern Theory of Physical Phenomena, BiblioLife (2009).

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