Glows in the Vacuum
From the electric egg to particle physics, Electricity and Pneumatics from the Seventeenth to the Twentieth Century
The exhibition is held at
Orto Botanico, Via Orto Botanico, Padova
Open from February to December 2004.
Giulio Peruzzi, Facoltà di Scienze Matematiche, Fisiche e Naturali, Università di Padova
Sofia Talas, Museo di Storia della Fisica, Università di Padova
The exhibition focuses the attention on the fact that, since the seventeenth century, electricity and pneumatics have been connected by a particular link, a field of research where these two branches of physics joined and gave extraordinary results.
This “link” is the studying of electrical discharges in rarefied gases, which produce beautifully coloured glows, “glows in the vacuum”. Thanks to the developments of the electromagnetic theory and to the technological progresses (improvement of the vacuum and new high-voltage electric generators), the analysis of these spectacular glows led to the great discoveries of the late nineteenth century, X-rays, radioactivity and electron, which marked the birth of modern physics.
The aim of the exhibition is to illustrate, through the prestigious collection of historical scientific instruments of the Museum of the History of Physics of Padua University, the development of the various branches of science involved.
The exhibition also presents films, multimedia laboratories and copies of historical apparatus that the public has the opportunity of touching and handling. The last section of the exhibition focuses the attention on particle physics and on some of their applications in different fields, in medicine in particular (X-rays, PET, etc.)