Italian Language Blog

Innovazioni Italiane – Part 2 Posted by on Dec 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

In part 1 of this blog we began to look at some of the Italian innovations of the last 150 years since Italy’s unification. Let’s discover a bit more about Italian inventiveness:

1. L’Aliscafo (The Hydrofoil)

Enrico Forlanini, already well known for his aircraft, helicopters, and airships, tested the first prototype of his aliscafo in 1905. Forlanini attached small wings beneath the hull of a motor launch in order that as the craft gathered speed it would emerge from the water and literally skimmed across the surface, thereby reducing resistance and increasing speed. His most successful aliscafo attained the amazing speed of 82 km an hour!

2. L’Autostrada (The Motorway/Freeway)

The first true motorway/freeway was opened in 1924, connecting Milano with Varese. Today this autostrada is known as the A8 or “Autostrada dei Laghi” (Lakes Motorway/Freeway). It was designed by the engineer Piero Puricelli exclusively for fast travel, unlike its German rival, opened in 1921, which was also used as a pista di prova (proving track) for cars, and not just as a public roadway.

3. La Carrellata (The Tracking Camera)

A leap forward in movie production was taken in1912 when Giovanni Pastrone patented his carrellata. This apparatus, today indispensible to the movie industry, consists of a movie camera mounted on a mobile platform, permitting the camera to track across the set. First used in the 1914 film Cabiria, the carrellata rapidly replaced the traditional technique of using a camera to film each scene from a fixed perspective, as in a theatre.

4. Energia Nucleare (Nuclear Energy)

The first important experiments in nuclear physics were carried out by the famous scientist Enrico Fermi (b.1901 – d.1954). Fermi identified new aspects of radioactivity and realised how interactions between athoms could be used to produce energy. In 1938 he received the Nobel prize for physics. Amongst the consequences of his research are the first nuclear energy plant and the development of the atomic bomb.

5. Lo Sfigmomanometro (The Sphygmomanometer)

If you’ve had your blood pressure taken then you’ll be familiar with the sfigmomanometro, or blood pressure monitor. Invented by Scipione Riva Rocci in 1896 this instrument is still used today to measure the maximum and minimum arterial pressure of a patient’s blood. Unlike other experimental models, Riva Rocci’s instrument was small in size, making it easy to carry around. Interestingly, the inventor never wanted to brevettare (patent) his invention, refusing all offers for its commercial exploitation.

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