Josip Ruđer Bošković was undoubtedly one of the greatest minds of the 18th century. He was born in Dubrovnik and 2011 marked the 300th anniversary of his birth.
Bošković was an astronomer, surveyor, hydrographer, mathematician, philosopher, diplomat, archaeologist, architect and poet. His most significant work was in the fields of mathematics, geometry, astronomy, geodesy, optics and physics.
He was exceptionally prolific, publishing a great body of work that laid the foundations for modern science during his career, which spanned 50 years and was mainly spent in Milan, Paris and Rome. He was a member of the Scientiarum et Artium Institutum atque Academia in Bologna (1746), a corresponding member of the Paris Academy of Sciences (1748), a honorary member of the Tsar's Academy of Sciences in St Petersburg (1760) and a member of the Royal Society in London (1761).
Bošković left his native Dubrovnik at an early age after completing his elementary education at a Jesuit school, and he went to Rome, again to study with the Jesuits. He took the vow and entered the order as a priest until the order was suppressed in 1773. Despite the fact that he was a priest, he was a follower of Copernicus' system, but was also the one to propose the repair of the cupola of St Peter's in Rome. He returned to Dubrovnik only once in his lifetime, for a holiday in 1747, although he kept in regular contact with his sister Anica and his brother Božo. He wrote regularly to them, and undertook diplomatic duties on behalf of the city of Dubrovnik.
He was highly sociable and articulate, but also sickly, somewhat solemn and a little depressive, with a tendency to be headstrong, which sometimes caused him problems.
He died in Milan at the age of 76, struck down by disease. He is buried there.
Today, a crater on the Moon is named after Bošković, as is the Ruđer Bošković multidisciplinary research institute in Zagreb, the Astronomical Society in Belgrade, the Parish Grammar School in Dubrovnik and a great many other schools, institutions, streets and squares.
His image appeared on all banknotes issues in the transition period from Yugoslav to Croatian currency between 1991 and 1993, when the currency was known as the Croatian Dinar.
To mark the 300th anniversary of his birth, the year 2011 had been proclaimed the Year of Ruđer Bošković in Croatia. Many events and symposiums were held in his honour both in Croatia and abroad.