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Temistocle Calzecchi Onesti

Born in 1853 at Lapedona, in today's province of Fermo, Calzecchi Onesti completed his studies at the Annibal Caro High School of Fermo – where he later taught for several years – and at the University of Pisa, receiving a degree in mathematical physics.

He was a teacher at the Aquila High School (1879) and, as of 1880, at the Fermo High School. His evident vocation for teaching led him to operate as an educator of deaf-mutes (with excellent results) and to write the Dizionario Metodico Illustrato (Illustrated Methodic Dictionary).

In 1898 he was awarded the gold medal at the International Electrical Exhibition in Turin for his experiments using a tube with iron fillings.

He went on to teach in Palermo, Milan and Rome. When he finally returned to the Marche region, he was seriously debilitated and died at Monterubbiano in 1922.

At the Fermo High School, Calzecchi was able to further his research and discovered some important characteristics regarding metallic powders. Between 1884 and 1886, he recorded his findings in a few articles that were published in “Il Nuovo Cimento”. When around 1890 Branly devised the radioconducteur, resuming and enhancing Calzecchi's experiences, bitter controversies arouse. But the question of priority was debated much more vehemently after Calzecchi's death, involving the offspring of both scientists and, above all, the fierce journalism of the time which defended every little or big contribution made by Italian science.

It cannot be denied that Calzecchi's work on the conductivity of metallic powders was precious for many. But the querelle, as is often the case, did not deserve such an excessive expenditure of energy and words, because between Calzecchi and Branly there is a pronounced difference, especially if one considers the “power at a distance” that the Italian scientist had not noted.

Nevertheless, Calzecchi Onesti was a skilled physicist and a “pioneer” of sorts. In fact, it was Marconi who benefitted from his experiences when approaching radiotelegraphy, and who paid homage to Calzecchi in a speech delivered at the Campidoglio before the Italian Royal Family in 1903.

 

 

 

 

 

   

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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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