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Gaspar Schott, S.J.
(1608 - 1666)
and the experiment at Magdeburg

Gaspar Schott's version of von Guericke's experiment at Magdeburg
which required a team of 16 horses to seperate the evacuated sphere
thus demonstrating the earth's enormous atmospheric pressure

Gaspar Schott, S.J. was born in Koenigshofen, Germany and died in in Augsburg. He studied in Sicily and later worked with Athanasius Kircher in Rome for three years before returning to Germany in 1655 where he was appointed professor of mathematics at Augsburg. He edited a number of books by Kircher, e.g., Pantometricum Kircherianum and Iter Extaticum Coeleste. He was asked by Otto von Guericke to describe the experiment of the exhausted hemisphere, and his dramatic sketch of this experiment at Magdeburg has been copied for centuries in physics textbooks. Schott added as an appendix to his Mechanica Hydraulio-pneumatica (1657) a detailed account of Guericke's experiments on vacuums, the earliest published report of this work.

As a result of these publications Schott became the center of correspondence, as other scientists wrote to inform him of their inventions and discoveries. Schott exchanged several letters with von Guericke,seeking to draw him out by suggesting new problems, and then he published his later investigations. He also corresponded with Huygens and was the first to make Boyle's investigations on the air pump widely known in Germany. Even though he personally held the Aristotelian abhorrence of a vacuum, he was open to new information from experiments and rendered great service to Germany by encouraging experimentation.

Schott's 1657 Mechanica hydaulico-pneumatica
creation of vacuum pumps
Schott's inventive friend Otto von Guericke
Schott's 1664 Technica curiosa
a perpetual motion machine
Von Guericke's study of electrostatics

Like Mersenne, Schott spread news of new investigations, observations and discoveries; he suggested fresh problems and encouraged controversies until there was a resolution. It was his publication of von Guericke's research that stimulated Robert Boyle to have an airpump constructed.


Archivum Historicum Societatis Iesu ( AHSI ) Rome: Institutum Historicum
Bangert, William A History of the Society of Jesus. St. Louis: St. Louis Institute, 1972uis, 1810
Gillispie, Charles. C. ed., Dictionary of Scientific biography. 16 vols. New York: Charles Scribner and Sons, 1970
{ Reference to Schott in the Dictionary of Scientific Biography is found in v 5 p 575, v 7 p 374-375, v 12 p 210-211, v 13 p 30.
Oldenburg, Henry ed. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. vols. 1-30. London: 1665-1715
{Articles by Schott or concerning his work are found in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London in v 7 p 5103-5105, v 22 p 487-508.}
Reilly, Conor "A catalogue of Jesuitica in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London" in A.H.S.I. vol. 27,1958, p. 339-362
Sommervogel, Carolus Bibliothèque de la compagnie de Jésus. 12 volumes. Bruxelles: Société Belge de Libraire, 1890-1960
{14 entries are found in Sommervogel; some examples are the following:
Mechanica Hydraulico-pneumatica (Wurzburg, 1657)
Technica Curiosa (Wurzburg, 1680)}

Adventures of Some Early Jesuit Scientists

José de Acosta, S.J. - 1600: Pioneer of the Geophysical Sciences
François De Aguilon, S.J. - 1617: and his Six books on Optics
Roger Joseph Boscovich, S.J. - 1787: and his atomic theory
Christopher Clavius, S.J. - 1612: and his Gregorian Calendar
Honoré Fabri, S.J. - 1688: and his post-calculus geometry
Francesco M. Grimaldi, S.J. - 1663: and his diffraction of light
Paul Guldin, S.J. - 1643: applications of Guldin's Rule
Maximilian Hell, S.J. - 1792: and his Mesmerizing encounters
Athanasius Kircher, S.J. - 1680: The Master of a Hundred Arts
Francesco Lana-Terzi, S.J. - 1687: The Father of Aeronautics
Francis Line, S.J. - 1654: the hunted and elusive clock maker
Juan Molina, S.J. - 1829: The First Scientist of Chile
Jerôme Nadal, S.J. -1580: perspective art and composition of place
Ignace Pardies, S.J. - 1673: and his influence on Newton
Andrea Pozzo, S.J. - 1709: and his perspective geometry
Vincent Riccati, S.J. - 1775: and his hyperbolic functions
Matteo Ricci, S.J. - 1610: who brought scientific innovations to China
John Baptist Riccioli, S.J. - 167I: and his long-lived selenograph
Girolamo Saccheri, S.J. - 1733: and his solution to Euclid's blemish
Theorems of Saccheri, S.J. - 1733: and his non Euclidean Geometry
Christopher Scheiner, S.J. - 1650: sunspots and his equatorial mount
Gaspar Schott, S.J. - 1666: and the experiment at Magdeburg
Angelo Secchi, S.J. - 1878: the Father of Astrophysics
Joseph Stepling, S.J. - 1650: symbolic logic and his research academy
André Tacquet, S.J. - 1660: and his treatment of infinitesimals
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S. J. - 1955: and The Phenomenon of man
Ferdinand Verbiest, S.J. - 1688: an influential Jesuit scientist in China
Juan Bautista Villalpando, S.J. - 1608: and his version of Solomon's Temple
Gregory Saint Vincent, S.J. - 1667: and his polar coordinates
Nicolas Zucchi, S.J. - 1670: the renowned telescope maker

Influence of Some Early Jesuit Scientists

The 35 lunar craters named to honor Jesuit Scientists: their location and description
Post-Pombal Portugal opinion of Pre-Pombal Jesuit Scientists: a recent conference
Seismology, The Jesuit Science. a Jesuit history of geophysics

Another menu of Jesuit Interest

Jesuit history, tradition and spirituality

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