his lifetime a personality of high esteem in European circles, however,
it was only the recent times that defined how he was ahead of his
time and, in many things, a precursor of scientific achievements.
Ruđer Bošković, one of the most famous Dubrovniker of all times,
excelled with intellect, imagination and intuition with indelible
traces in European history of science.
Ruđer Bošković, one of the greatest scholars of
his time, was born in Dubrovnik on May 18, 1711. At 14, after an
education at the Jesuit college in Dubrovnik (Collegium Ragusinum),
he went to Rome to pursue his studies with the Jesuits there. Before
departing for France and England in 1759, a professor of Physics
and Mathematics, he taught at the Jesuit schools in Fermo and Rome.
At his most prolific years, he published some 40 treatises and prepared
his most relevant works on natural philosophy. Some of his papers
deal with issues on light, on the law of continuity, and on the
laws of natural powers. Bošković also made his name when he measured
the two meridian degrees in the Papal State by using apparatus and
gauging he himself improved. Traveling extensively throughout Europe,
he stooped in Paris and Vienna, where he published his most important
work on Philosophiae maturalis theoria redacta ad unicam legem virium
in Natura existentium (known under a shorter title as A Theory of
Natural Philosophy). In London he studied lunar and solar eclipses.
A tempest prevented his ship from arriving in Istanbul from Venice
in time to observe the passage of Venus by the Sun - disembarked
at the islet of Tened, he studied the ruins of Troy instead. From
Istanbul, having missed the desired experience of an unusual encounter
of the planets, he set of to Bulgaria, then to Moldavia and then
to Poland, the voyage minutely described in his diary.
In 1770 he moved to Milan to reach at the new department
of astronomy and optics, but having failed the appointment to the
director of the observatory in which he had invested his own money
and time, disillusioned, he moved to Venice. Though away almost
all his lifetime, Bošković never lost his links with Dubrovnik,
maintained especially through a regular correspondence with his
elder brother Baro and sister Anica. He never stopped to care for
the welfare of his native town. And was always ready to answer requests
by the Dubrovnik Senate and to assist in diplomatic and political
issues. Reflecting upon a return home, yet incessantly busy, he
went to Milan to prepare for the publication of his five-volume
work "Pieces from Optics and Astronomy ", where he died
Ruđer Bošković was not only a scholar, but, to the fashion of his
time, a Latin poet too. His poetic versatility shines in De solis
ac Lunae defectubis, describing abstract astronomic theories in
easy-flowing, elegant hexameters. He was a fellow of the Roman Arcadia
that published his poetry in its editions.
In his lifetime he was a personality of high esteem
in European scientific circles. However, only recent times have
defined just how much Bošković was ahead of his time and, in many
things, a precursor of scientific achievements. Ruđer Bošković,
one of the most famous Dubrovnikers of all times, excelled with
an intellect, imagination and intuition that have left traces in
the history of European science.
Source: Welcome to Dubrovnik l/I
Writen by: Jelka Tepšić
Published by: Dubrovnik Tourist Board