Prokop Diviš: Innovator, Priest, and Pioneer of Electrical Engineering

OV Digital Desk

Image Courtesy: Google Doodle

Prokop Diviš (26 March 1698 – 21 December 1765) was a Czech Catholic priest, theologian, and natural scientist. He is best known for his invention of the atmospheric electrostatic machine, a device that generated static electricity from the atmosphere, and his research on electricity and meteorology.

Life and Career

Diviš was born in Přímětice, Moravia (now part of the Czech Republic), on 26 March 1698. He studied at the Jesuit gymnasium in Kroměříž and then entered the Jesuit order in 1715. He studied theology in Prague and Olomouc and was ordained a priest in 1723.

In addition to his theological studies, Diviš had a keen interest in science and natural philosophy. He conducted research on electricity and meteorology, and in 1749 he invented the atmospheric electrostatic machine, which was capable of generating static electricity from the atmosphere. The machine became widely known and was replicated by other scientists throughout Europe.

Diviš was also an advocate for education and literacy. He established a school in Přímětice and worked to improve education in the region. He was also a prolific writer and published several works on science, theology, and education. Diviš’s scientific achievements brought him recognition and he was elected a member of the Royal Society in London in 1749. He also corresponded with other prominent scientists of his time, including Benjamin Franklin.

Diviš died on 21 December 1765 in his hometown of Přímětice. His scientific contributions and advocacy for education have made him an important figure in Czech history, and he is celebrated as a national hero in the Czech Republic.

Award and Legacy

Prokop Diviš’s scientific achievements and advocacy for education have earned him a lasting legacy and numerous awards and honors.

In his native Czech Republic, Diviš is celebrated as a national hero and his contributions to science and education are recognized through various awards and tributes. In 1953, a memorial plaque was unveiled in Přímětice to commemorate the 200th anniversary of his birth. In 1998, the Czech Republic issued a commemorative coin with Diviš’s image to mark the 300th anniversary of his birth.

Diviš has also been recognized internationally for his scientific contributions. In 1749, he was elected a member of the prestigious Royal Society in London, and in 1760, he received an honorary doctorate in theology from the University of Vienna.

In addition, several scientific institutions have named awards and prizes after Diviš to honor his legacy. For example, the Czech Technical University in Prague awards the Prokop Diviš Prize for outstanding contributions to electrical engineering, and the Czech Academy of Sciences has established the Prokop Diviš Medal for exceptional achievements in natural sciences.

Overall, Prokop Diviš’s impact on science and education continues to be recognized and celebrated to this day, and his legacy serves as an inspiration for future generations of scientists and educators.

On 26 March 2013, Google celebrated Prokop Diviš’s 315th Birthday with a doodle.