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Giovanni Battista della Porta. Historical engraving of Giovanni Battista della Porta (1535- 1615), Italian natural philosopher. Born near Naples, Italy, he spent most of his life in the area, establishing the Accademia dei Segreti, which met at his house. He published many books on nature, magic and science, but is best remembered for his work on optics and steam power. He deduced that a lens was better than a pinhole in a camera, and worked on ways of improving vision using lenses. He made vital contributions to the idea of a steam engine, realising that when steam condensed into water, a vacuum would remain. The Inquisition banned his books between 1592-1598.
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