SCIENCE AND FAITH: MARIA GAETANA AGNESI AND FR. ANGELO SECCHI

SCIENCE AND FAITH: MARIA GAETANA AGNESI AND FR. ANGELO SECCHI  

Maria Gaetana Agnesi, a mathematician and benefactor, was the first woman to illustrate with clarity and precision in a single work the ba­sic principles of algebra, analytic geometry, and differential and integral equations. At the height of her career her father died and she abandoned her studies to devote herself to charitable work and spiritual reflection. She is depicted in prayer and with mathematical formulas where one in particular stands out, the versiera (known as the “Witch of Agnesi) a bell-shaped curve characteristic of her studies. Jesuit Fr. Angelo Sec­chi, an astronomer and expert in geodetics, is founder of astronomical spectroscopy. He is depicted together with the characteristic elements of his research, including the telescope in the foreground and the stars in the sky. These images recall the most extraordinary discovery attributed to him, the classification of stars into four basic types based on their spectral composition, consisting of their colors and the light they emit. In the background the Astronomical Observatory of the Collegio Romano he directed can be seen, where he created among other works a mete­orograph capable of recording data on basic physical measurements.