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Cabeo, Niccolo

1. Dates
Born: Ferrara, 26 Feb. 1586
Died: Genoa, 30 June 1650
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 64
2. Father
Occupation: No Information
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: Italy
Career: Italy
Death: Italy
4. Education
Schooling: Religous Order, D.D.
He attended the Jesuit college in Parma. Heilbron says Ferrara. I did not find any mention of university study. He clearly received the equivalent of a B.A. within the order and as a full Jesuit he would have had a theological degree.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
He was a Jesuit, having entered as a novice in 1602.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Magnetism, Natural Philosophy, Electricity
Subordinate: Mechanics
Cabeo is remembered partly because he was acquainted with Giovanni Battista Baliani, who experimented with falling weights, and wrote about Baliani's experiments. His interpretation that two different weights fall in the same length of time without regard to the medium became the indirect cause of other experiments conducted by Vincenzo Renieri.
He experimented with pendulums.
He published two major works, Philosophia magnetica (1629) and In quatuor libros meteorologicorum Aristotelis commentaria (1646), an anti-aristotelian work.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Church Life, Patronage
Cabeo taught theology and mathematics in Parma until 1622, and was then a preacher in various Italian cities. He was in Genoa for a time. He was for a time in the service of the Dukes of Mantua and of the Este in Ferrara. Ultimately he returned to the Jesuit college in Genoa where he taught mathematics.
8. Patronage
Types: Court Official, Eccesiastic Official
Service with the Gonzagas in Mantua and the Este in Ferrara.
He dedicated the first book of his Meteorology to Carlo II, Duke of Mantua, the second book to Card. Spada, and the fourth book to Vincenzo Caraffa, General of the Jesuits.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: Hydraulics
He was employed by the Gonzaga on hydraulic projects. He differed with Castelli on the management of the Po at Ferrara.
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
He was a friend of Baliani and of Riccioli.
  1. Carlos Sommervogel, ed. Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus, (Brussels, 1891), 2, 376-84.
  2. Dizionario biografico degli italiani.
  3. G. Tiraboschi, Storia della letteratura italiana, 8, pt. 1, 249f.
  4. Caverni, 2, 257-265-71; 4, 237, 279; 5, 9, 27.
  5. S. Magrini, "Il 'De magnete' e i primordi della magnetologia in Italia," Archivo di storia della scienza, 8.2 (1927), 17-39.
  6. L. Thorndike, History or Magic and Science, 7, 61, 422f, 685; 8, 204, 207, 430.
  7. J. Heilbron, Electricity in the 17th and 18th Centuries, (Berkeley, 1979), pp. 180-3.
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. L. Barotti, Memorie di letteratura ferraresi, 2, 262-9.
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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