Laura Bassi – The First Woman to Be a University Professor of Physics
Laura Bassi, the first woman to become a university professor of physics, was the first member of the influential Academy of Sciences at the Institute of Bologna. She was also a proponent of the universal philosophy. This book explains her scientific career and research activities and focuses on the context of her work and her relationship with Isaac Newton. The book is written in the second person, from Laura Bassi’s own perspective.
Laura Bassi was a child prodigy
At a very young age, Laura Bassi’s mother recognized her potential for a brilliant career in science. Laura studied with Gaetano Tacconi, a professor at the College of Medicine in Bologna. The child prodigy studied a variety of subjects from ancient Greek to French and Italian. She also studied advanced science topics, including Newtonian physics. Laura’s father was also impressed by her talent and became her lifelong friend.
At an early age, Laura Bassi was fascinated by electricity. She had her own laboratory at home, where she performed experiments. She collaborated with Veratti, an expert on electricity, and was consulted by many leading scientists. She also developed a love of literature, and was noted for her poems. In the 1760s, she and Veratti began performing experiments on electricity. However, the experiments did not result in publications.
She became a professor of experimental physics in Bologna
As a young single woman, Bassi faced some challenges. She was accused of pursuing sexual relationships with older men. Some of her male colleagues allegedly fell in love with her. Despite this, Bassi continued her studies and became a professor of experimental physics in Bologna. By the end of her career, she had become the 25th woman to receive an academic chair in physics.
Her achievements in the field of physics were not limited to a scientific career. She also became an honorary member of the College of Philosophers and the Science Academy of Bologna. Her first lecture was at the Archiginnasio in 1405. Her work was recognized by the reigning experts of the time. In the same year, she was elected as a professor of experimental physics at the University of Bologna.
She struggled to overcome sexism
Laura Bassi was born in 1711 and died in 1778, and she was one of the first women to achieve a paid scientific career. While she was an accomplished scientist, she had to overcome sexism to become successful. She struggled to overcome the sexism she encountered, but she remained determined to succeed and did not let her gender hinder her success. Ultimately, she became the first woman to be elected to the Academy of Sciences and was a highly influential scientist.
While at university, Bassi faced a number of challenges, such as discrimination. She was not allowed to lecture in a normal class with men. This made her feel uncomfortable and she struggled to overcome sexism. As a result, she had to do everything in public to gain the recognition she deserved. Eventually, she achieved that goal. But how did Laura Bassi overcome sexism?
She lectured at home
In order to continue her work, Laura Bassi had to leave her university position and lecture in her home. While male members of the Academy were expected to give regular reports on their research, female members were not required to hold regular classes. She also did not receive work commensurate with her rank. Instead, she lectured in her home and wrote poetry. She lectured on a variety of subjects, including the history of science.
The work that Bassi produced in her laboratory at home was so influential that her students would soon be able to replicate it. She lectured on a variety of topics and encouraged experimental work. Although she had only written a few scientific works, she was a popular lecturer in Bologna and in other Italian universities. She corresponded with Voltaire and Volta and was widely respected by the entire society.
She became a member of the Italian Physical Society
As a pioneer of Newtonian physics, Laura Bassi deserves special recognition. Her work helped popularise the concept in Italy. In 1745, she was elected by the Pope to the Benedettini, a body similar to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. In 1776, she took up the Chair of Experimental Physics at the University of Bologna, where she remained for the rest of her life. Her husband also became her lab assistant. Her impact on science is reflected in her numerous letters and publications.
In 1774, Bassi received a professorship at the University of Bologna, which she held until her death. By the time of her death, she had already been awarded two other professorships. In 1776, she was named experimental physics professor at the Academy of Institute for Sciences in Bologna. She also collaborated with her colleague, Giuseppe Veratti, to provide private lessons in physics. Her children included Ciro, Paolo, Giovanni Francesco, and Giuseppe.
She was the only female scientist before the 19th century
It was difficult for a female to achieve success in the scientific field in the early 18th century, due to various social and economic factors. Firstly, she was not allowed to lecture in a regular university class. That would mean all of her students were male. Even though her father was an enlightened man, his lack of support for women in science did not prevent her from attending university. Her father hired Gaetano Tacconi, a professor at the College of Medicine in Bologna. He gave Laura an education and encouraged her to move up in the scientific community.
While attending university, Bassi studied higher mathematics and physics. Her interests in science led her to explore topics that were controversial at the time. Her interest in Newton’s theories about gravitation, gravity, and gravitation made her interested in these topics. After her death, she only had four scientific papers published, but her importance was recognized by leading thinkers and scholars of the day. Her achievements helped pave the way for other prominent scientists of the time.