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Baliani, Giovanni Battista

1. Dates
Born: Genoa, 1582
Died: Genoa, 1666
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 84
2. Father
Occupation: Aristocrat
A senator of Genoa, that is, a patrician.
Although I find no specific mention, all of the details of Baliani's career make it evident that the family was wealthy.
3. Nationality
Birth: Genoa, Italy
Career: Italy
Death: Genoa, Italy
4. Education
Schooling: No University
He was trained in Law. I find no mention of university education.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic (by obvious assumption)
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Physics, Mechanics, Hydraulics
Subordinate: Natural Philosophy
His most important work was the treatise on natually accelerated motion, which announced many of Galileo's conclusions before Two New Sciences appeared. The level of discussion in Baliani does not begin to approach Galileo's, so that issues of plagiary have inevitably arisen. (He had had contact with Galileo.)
Baliani also wrote on the motion of water and on some questions of natural philosophy in general.
He used an experimental method.
7. Means of Support
Primary: City Magistrate, Personal Means
He spent most of his life in public service.
In 1611 he was prefect of the fortress at Savona. In 1623 he was Governor of Sarzana, and in 1624 he entered the Genoan Senate. In 1647-49 he was the governor of the fortress (Savona), and was then elevated to membership in the principal governing body of Genoa, where he remained until his death.
8. Patronage
Type: None
Questions of patronage did not arise.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: Hydraulics
His involvement in a hydraulic project in Genoa led to the letter to Galileo about the weight of the atmosphere, and through the discussion in Two New Sciences to the whole debate that ended in Torricelli, Pascal, and Boyle.
He published (in Opere diverse, 1616) writings about an improved carriage and on a means of making a trireme more swift, but until I get information that these ideas advanced beyond the realm of mere words, I won't count them.
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
His correspondence with Galileo, which began in 1614, lasted for many years.
  1. Alpinolo Natucci, "Giovan Battista Baliani letterato e scienzato del secolo XVII," Archives internationales d'histoire des sciences, 12 (1969), pp.167-183 Q1 .A734
  2. Dizionario biografico degli italiani.
  3. G.M.Mazzuchelli, Gli scrittori d'Italia, (Brescia, 1753- ), 2, pt. 1, 171-2.
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University

Note: the creators of the Galileo Project and this catalogue cannot answer email on geneological questions.

1995 Al Van Helden
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