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Marquess, physicist, and antiquarian; b. at Venice, 23 Aug., 1683; d. at Padua, 14 Nov., 1761; son of Marquess Jacopo Poleni. He studied the classics, philosophy, theology, mathematics, and physics. He was appointed, at the age of twenty-five, professor of astronomy at Padua. In 1715 he was assigned to the chair of physics, and in 1719 he succeeded Nicholas Bernoulli as professor of mathematics. As an expert in hydraulic engineering he was charged by the Venetian Senate with the care of the waters of lower Lombardy and with the constructions necessary to prevent floods. He was also repeatedly called in to decide cases between sovereigns whose states were bordered by water-ways.
His knowledge of architecture caused Benedict XIV to call him to Rome in 1748 to examine the cupola of St. Peter's, which was rapidly disintegrating. He promptly indicated the repairs necessary. He also wrote a number of antiquarian dissertations. In 1739 the Academy of Sciences in Paris made him a member, and later the societies of London, Berlin, and St. Petersburg did the same. The city of Padua elected him as magistrate, and after his death erected his statue by Canova. Venice also honoured him by striking a medal.
The following are his principal works: "Miscellanea" (dissertations on physics), Venice, 1709; "De vorticibus coelestibus", Padua, 1712; "De motu acquæ mixto", Padua, 1717; "De castellis per quæ derivantur fluviorum latera convergentia", Padua, 1720; "Exercitationes Vitruvianæ" Venice, 1739; "Il tiempo di Diana di Efeso", Venice, 1742.
ANON, Memorie per la vita del Signor G. P. (Padua, 1762); FOUCHY, Eloge, Mém. de l'ac. des Sc. hist. (Paris, 1763).