Foto del docente

Marco Ciardi

Associate Professor

Department of History and Cultures

Academic discipline: M-STO/05 History of Science and Technology

Research

Research: Life and Works of Amedeo Avogadro and Lazzaro Spallanzani; History of chemistry in Italy from Cannizzaro to Natta; Scientific voyages, Atlantis, relationship between science and pseudoscience; History of ecology and environment in 1800s and 1900s.

History of chemistry in Italy from Cannizzaro to Natta: The research main objective is to fill a serious gap in the ambit of studies in the history of chemistry in Italy in the period that runs from the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth century. Despite the unquestionable level of professionalisation and specialisation that the historiography of science and technology has attained also in Italy, the temporal arch that the study intends to consider, still today represents a largely unexplored territory, firstly for the lack of a systematic exploration of primary sources, such as collections of letters, manuscripts and archive documents.

Scientific voyages, Atlantis , relationship between science and pseudoscience: The research main objective is to study scientific voyages and Atlantis question in the last two centuries. The research is firstly characterised by its highly interdisciplinary content and by the possibility to offer outlooks of analysis and study that differ from and are alternative to the traditional approach of fields of knowledge, both in the humanist and scientific worlds.

History of ecology and environment in 1800s and 1900s: The research is dedicated to the history of ecology and the environment in the course of the 1800s and 1900s, with respect to its scientific, technical, social and cultural implications. In particular, will be analyzed the relations between philosphy, ecology, politics and economy.  



Life and Works of Amedeo Avogadro and Lazzaro Spallanzani:

This studies dedicated to Avogadro and Spallanzani constitute the development of work conducted for more than twenty years, which led to numerous articles and volumes dedicated to the activity of these famous Italian scientists  and the context in which it unfolded. See for example  Theory and Technology. The Avogadro manuscripts at the Turin Academy of Sciences, "Nuncius. Annali di Storia della Scienza", 13, 1998, pp. 625-656; Avogadro's concept of the atom: some new remarks, "Ambix. The Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry", 48, XLVIII, 2001, n. 1, pp. 17-24.

History of chemistry in Italy from Cannizzaro to Natta: The research main objective is to fill a serious gap in the ambit of studies in the history of chemistry in Italy in the period that runs from the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth century. Despite the unquestionable level of professionalisation and specialisation that the historiography of science and technology has attained also in Italy, the temporal arch that the study intends to consider, still today represents a largely unexplored territory, firstly for the lack of a systematic exploration of primary sources, such as collections of letters, manuscripts and archive documents. The project falls within the revaluation of national histories which, for several years now, has been at the centre of attention of historians of science and technology. Dealing with the history of science and technology of one's own country indeed does not mean searching for primacy or national priorities. It instead serves to increasingly more underline the European and international dimension assumed by research in science and technology in the course of the modern age. Even in the period considered, and despite a series of delays and shortcomings mainly on the structural and organisational levels, Italy played a leading role thanks to the work of several extraordinary protagonists like Cannizzaro, Ciamician, and Natta. The study will especially concentrate on the development of chemistry, under the profile of theoretical development, as well as in relation to the growth and definition of their institutional structures of reference.

Scientific voyages, Atlantis, relationship between science and pseudoscience: Until the age of Darwin, the history of nature, man, and civilisations were explained and understood within the 6000 years allowed by biblical chronology. Any proposal tending to lengthen the times of nature and history was substantially branded as heretical. Galileo, Descartes, Bacon and Newton, the great protagonists of the seventeenth-century philosophical and scientific revolution, lived within this theological and chronological perspective. As of the late XVII century, however, the problematics presented by scientific voyages, the knowledge of new natural objects and new peoples unknown to European culture, the discovery of fossils, interpretation of myths and fables from civilisations claiming ancient origins, were the fountainhead of the intellectual and scientific change that decisively influenced the development of culture and contemporary society, and still today generates none too easily solved discussions and problematics, both in the strictly scientific field and on the ideological and social level. The question of lost continents and, in particular, of Atlantis was revived in modern times thanks to exploration voyages, and principally after the discovery of America. Initially tied to discussions regarding the legitimacy of colonial possession and the origins of native Americans, the Atlantis question developed slowly along two lines of research: one of a geological, naturalistic and geographic nature, the other of a chronological nature. In the first case, the discussion on the existence of the mythical lost continent, described for the first time by Plato, enters, above all, into a debate dealing with the creation, structure and evolution of the Earth. The second case becomes intertwined with discussions of chronology and theories on the origins of man and civilisations. The controversy, involving numerous scientists and scholars such as Kircher, Hooke, Stensen, Newton, Tournefort, remained rather heated also during the period of the Enlightenment. In the course of the 1800s and 1900s, the interest for Atlantis did not at all decrease; quite the contrary, if possible, it grew even more, though not always in light of the acquisitions of scientific research. The research main objective is to study scientific voyages and Atlantis question in the last two centuries. The research is firstly characterised by its highly interdisciplinary content and by the possibility to offer outlooks of analysis and study that differ from and are alternative to the traditional approach of fields of knowledge, both in the humanist and scientific worlds. See for example From Egypt to Atlantis: Giuseppe Bartoli between literature, archaeology and natural history, in The Routes of Learning: Italy and Europe in the Modern Age, a cura di F. Abbri e M. Segala, Firenze, Olschki, 2003, pp. 37-50; Atlantis and the History of Science, "Archives Internationales d'Histoire des Sciences", 59, 2009, pp. 207-219. See also Pierre-Vidal Naquet, The Atlantis Story: A Short History of Plato's Myth, Exeter, University of Exeter Press, 2007.

History of ecology and environment: The research is dedicated to the history of ecology and the environment in the course of the 1800s and 1900s, with respect to its scientific, technical, social and cultural implications. In particular, will be analyzed the relations between philosphy, ecology, politics and economy. See now Terra. Storia di un'idea (Roma, Laterza, 2013). This book has been awarded at the Premio Nazionale di Letteratura Naturalistica "Parco Majella", Premio Nazionale di Divulgazione Scientifica, and Premio Letterario Galileo.