Devil in maths, angel in heart
Marin Getaldić caused real awe in his fellow- citizens with his experiments with parabolic mirrors he performed in the cave of St. James, named "Bete`s cave" after his own nickname. The mirrors destroyed metals, lead and silver alike, at a distance. The stories have it that Getaldić put in danger the ships sailing in the vicinity. One such mirror, two meters in diameter, is displayed at the Maritime Museum in Greenwich.
During his lifetime, Marin Getaldić (1568-1626) enjoyed high esteem and glory all over Europe for his numerous scientific works. The Dubrovnik Republic, however, preferred practical to theoretical discoveries, so Getaldić had to earn his living as a notary and public servant. In his letters to his contemporaries elsewhere, he complained about his government's negligence concerning the progress of basic theoretical disciplines. His family lived in a house at St. James, right above a large cave (later named after Martins nickname). In the 17th century, the cave was the source of real awe to Dubrovniker`s. His experiments with parabolic mirrors destroyed metals at a large distance, and traditions have it that Getaldić even set some ships on fire. Among his historic achievements in his pioneer use of some sort of hydrostatic scales for scientific purpose, and made his calculations on the relative weight of eleven matters: gold, mercury, lead, silver, copper, tin, honey, wine, wax and oil, He collaborated and corresponded with the most reputable scientists in England, Italy, France and Belgium., like Francois Viete and Galileo Galilei. Between 1603 and 1607, he published five works. One of his most important treaties "De resolutione et compositionem mathematica" was published after his death (1630).
Getaldić was a reputable councilor of the Minor and Mayor councils, took part in diplomatic missions of the republic, was its envoy to Istanbul, was a friend to pope Urban VIII who supported the publication of his works. In 1604 he was assigned the fortification and restoration of the Podzvizd Fort in Ston. Venetian scientist Paolo Scarpi qualified Getaldić, the great mathematician and physicist, as " a devil in mathematics, an angel in heart.
Writen by: Lidija Crncević
Published by: Dubrovnik Tourist Board