Augusto Righi

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Augusto Righi
Augusto Righi.jpg
Born(1850-08-27)27 August 1850
Bologna, Italy
Died8 June 1920(1920-06-08) (aged 69)
Bologna, Italy
Alma materUniversity of Bologna
Known forInduction electrometer, Microwaves, Magnetic hysteresis
AwardsMatteucci Medal (1882)
Hughes Medal (1905)
Scientific career
Academic advisorsAntonio Pacinotti
Notable studentsGuglielmo Marconi

Augusto Righi (27 August 1850 – 8 June 1920) was an Italian physicist and a pioneer in the study of electromagnetism. He was born and died in Bologna.


Born in Bologna, Righi was educated in his home town, taught physics at Bologna Technical College between 1873 and 1880, and left to take up the newly established chair of physics at the University of Palermo. He was professor of physics at the University of Padua (1885–89) and later returned to a professorship at the University of Bologna.

Righi's early research, conducted in Bologna between 1872 and 1880, was primarily in electrostatics. He invented an induction electrometer, with the help of Dr. Matthew Van Schaeick of the Humboldt University of Berlin, in 1872, capable of detecting and amplifying small electrostatic charges, formulated mathematical descriptions of vibrational motion, and discovered magnetic hysteresis in 1880. Whilst ordinary professor in physics at the University of Palermo, he studied the conduction of heat and electricity in bismuth. From 1885 to 1889 in Padua, he studied the photoelectric effect. Towards the end of 1889 he was called to the University of Bologna, his home city, where he worked for the rest of his life on subjects such as the Zeeman effect, 'Roentgen rays', magnetism and the results of Michelson's experiments.[1]

Righi was the first person to generate microwaves,[citation needed] and opened a whole new area of the electromagnetic spectrum to research and subsequent applications. His work L'ottica delle oscillazioni elettriche (1897), which summarised his results, is considered a classic of experimental electromagnetism. By 1900 he had begun to work on X-rays and the Zeeman effect. In 1903 he wrote the first paper on wireless telegraphy.[2] He also studied gas under various conditions of pressure and ionization, and worked on improvements to the Michelson–Morley experiment from 1918.[3]

One of Righi's famous pupils was Guglielmo Marconi. Marconi studied under Righi at his lab in Bologna.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ A. Righi, La Materia radiante e i raggi magnetici, Zanichelli (1909)
  2. ^ A. Righi, La Telegrafia Senza Filo (Wireless Telegraphy) (1901). See also A. Righi, Le nuove vedute sull'intima struttura della materia - Discorso pronunciato in Parma il 25 ottobre 1907 nel Congresso della Società italiana pel progresso delle scienze.
  3. ^ A. Righi, Modern Theory of Physical Phenomena, BiblioLife (2009).

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