Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Refracting Apis

Francesco Stelluti (1577-1652) was a mathematician and founding member of the Accademia dei Lincei (Academy of Linxes - sharp eyed creatures were chosen to engender discovery) along with its leader and backer, Federico Cesi. This much seems certain.

Somewhere along the line, probably in 1624, Galileo who was also a member of the Academy, submitted the first compound(?) microscope for evaluation by his peers. The following year, Stelluti made the first scientific use of the instrument. (This is in dispute)

He observed and drew bees, as you see scattered about the page. There were a couple of notable publications associated with his drawings (he may have done the engravings himself - of this I'm not sure). It appears that Cesi had both the initial drawings plus all known information about bees issued in a large quarto format.

Stelluti refashioned the initial drawings and they were republished in ~1630 with an adjacent latin poem that was obsequiously dedicated to Pope Urban - the bee was the Pope's family emblem.

The small images here were culled from Apiarium, the publication that included all the information about bees; and the dedication to the Pope is called Melissographia (that's the large image).

The 2 works are extrememly rare and they are exhibited by the Instituto E Museo Di Storia Della Scienza Biblioteca Archivi in Florence in a partial flash interface with annoying frames (again) but the zoom is great; however there is no english, unfortunately.

The following are a sample of the documents I waded through to learn about this little episode in the history of science..


Anonymous said...

There’s a book on this subject which I nearly bought a couple of years back: it looks pretty interesting.

peacay said...

Yeah...another case where the side story could have led me along a different path. Get the book!

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