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Augusto Righi

When Marconi was little more than a boy his parents, noticing his growing passion for physics and electricity, decided to introduce him to professor Augusto Righi. He taught Physics at Bologna university and was considered a great luminary in his field.

Righi was born in Bologna in 1850, and had taught at the universities of Padova and Palermo before returning to teach in his home town, Bologna. He studied the fundamentals of electrology, electromagnetism and physical optics. A great theorist and researcher, he continued Hertz' experiments and thus contributed significantly to prove Maxwell's theory. The famous professor and the self-taught young man, both Bolognese and interested in the hertzian waves, seemed destined to meet and to become student and teacher, but this did not happen.

Marconi visited professor Righi several times, both at the university and his summer house in Sabbiuno, near Pontecchio. He probably saw the equipment devised by Righi in his laboratory. Their relationship consisted of on the one side Marconi trying to explain his ideas and continuously asking Righi questions, and on the other side the professor replying and suggesting that Marconi should continue his education to gain a solid, basic knowledge. But Marconi did not follow his advice; instead he began to experiment on his own. Once he had completed his new system (which would later be called wireless telegraphy) he moved with his mother to London in order to patent his invention and develop its applications.

When Marconi became famous, the two Bolognese scientists met on various public occasions and always declared their mutual respect. To the many people who considered Professor Righi the real inventor of wireless telegraphy, he replied that he had not been Marconi's teacher and that Marconi had carried out his research autonomously. At the same time he considered Marconi's scientific contribution nothing more than a Ā«useful applicationĀ». When Marconi was awarded the Nobel prize in 1909, Righi, who had been candidate for the prize for fifteen years without winning, could not deny his disappointment.

During his speech at the Swedish Royal Academy, Marconi cited Righi together with Hertz and Branly as those scientists whose studies had inspired the beginning of his career. However he failed to dedicate any words of affection to them or recount any personal memories.

Augusto Righi died in Bologna in 1920.

 

 

 

 

     

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Francesco Paresceparesce francesco

Marconi was the right man in the right place at the right time. He was the right man because he had the ideal combination of personal characteristics for the job: persistence, daring, technical ability, charisma and flair for public relations.



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