My name is Elisa,I am a university student and I am writing my master’s thesis on the history of scientific research in Italy. Lately I have been slowed down a bit in my work because my family had to move. During the move, among a thousand other things, a small dusty box turned up with a booklet and an envelope. Inside, I found this letter:
Padua, 13 November 1797
I am returning home after the funeral of abbot Toaldo. It was a very touching moment that marks an important point in the history of scientific research, not only here in Padua, but in the world!
By now, my old legs have almost failed me and my eyes also struggle to reread my notes... I am writing these few lines for someone who, in the future, will be able to (and will want to!) continue the path that I was unable to complete.
Whoever you are, holding this letter in your hand, I hope that the same passion that motivated my actions during the course of my life will guide you.
Medicine, physics, astronomy, botany... these four sciences have guided my research and remain my great concern. During my life, I was never able to decide which topic to dedicate myself to. I studied them all, meeting the greatest names who taught them in Padua or talked about them: I prepared experiments with Poleni, attended Morgagni’s dissections, discussed botany with Goethe, and observed the stars with Toaldo. I spent many hours in the Bo courtyard, looking at the statue of Elena Cornaro Piscopia with boundless admiration, the first woman in the world to hold a degree.
But, since I was unable to complete my path, I would like you, who have found this letter and this document, to try.
The method of modern science is universal. The instruments used to study the processes may change, but the way of working, based on observations and experiments, is always the same.Therefore, follow my notes and explore, discover and try to answer questions that will take you far, farther than you can ever imagine.
I have no doubts that this was one of my ancestors we had lost any trace of who lived and studied in Padua at the end of the 18th century. I want to follow his path. But I need someone to help me...