Professor Martelli To Discuss A Solution To Brunelleschi’s Cupola

Professor Mario Martelli will speak at the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum at 6:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 20 on the topic “The Secret (and Mystery) of Brunelleschi’s Cupola.” The lecture is free and open to the public, and seating is available on a first-come basis. The Athenaeum is located at 385 East Eighth Street, at the intersection of Eighth and Amherst Streets in Claremont.

The octagonal cupola of Santa Maria del Fiore, the cathedral of Florence, Italy, has baffled architects and engineers since it was designed in 1420. Martelli, professor of mathematics, will discuss the five ideas that were most likely at the foundation of architect Brunelleschi’s design: the curvature of the arcs, the double cupola, the spinapesce, the use of circumferential rings, and the corda blanda. Martelli will also present a new solution explaining the curvature of the two cupolas. A method for producing the corda blanda was recently proposed by an architect and by a former student of Martelli’s at the University of Florence. Martelli has slightly modified this solution and will spend next spring taking measurements of the cupola to verify if the changes he proposed are in agreement with the construction.

A native of Florence, Martelli received his Ph.D. from the University of Florence. He has been awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the Mathematical Association of American and was also a nominee for the USA Teacher of the Year granted by the Carnegie Foundation in 2000.