Written by Michaela Pilna
Prof. Ph.D. Frantisek Adam Petrina (December 24, 1799 – June 27, 1855) was a Czech scientist and mathematician. He was born in a tailor’s family in the town of Semily, which is near the city of Liberec. He started his career as a weaver when he was 17 years old. Afterward, he studied high school in the town of Jicin, and in 1823 he moved to the city of Prague to study philosophy, mathematics, and astronomy.
After his studies, he wanted to be a priest in the town of Litomerice. At the same time, he tried to apply for a military doctor at the Academy of Medicine in Vienna. He received no answer to these applications. However, he got two other offers instead. One was for him to become a tutor to the sons of the chief steward. The other was to help in the teaching office of mathematics and physics. By accepting both offers and thanks to his knowledge, he could become an assistant to Professor Halaska. At the same time, he could give lectures in physics at Prague University.
He was graduated Doctor of Philosophy after eleven years passed. Then, a year later, which was in 1837, he got married in the city of Prague and moved to Austria in the city of Linz, where he taught physics and mathematics for another seven years. In the city of Linz, in 1842, his son Theodor was born.
A few years passed, he got an offer to teach in the city of Graz, but he refused. In 1844 he was able to get back in the Czech country. There he became a physics professor at Prague University, Charles University, to be more precise. Later, he became the Dean of Charles University. His lectures were highly popular thanks to his easy-to-understand and full of experiments lectures. He was also a member of the Vienna Imperial Academy of Sciences, only a year after its founding.
Frantisek Adam Petrina has published 36 scientific papers in German and Czech in the branches of electricity, magnetism, and telegraphy. It is worth noting that he was the inventor of several devices. These include a medical magneto-electric machine, a simple power interrupter – which is called Petrina’s spiral. And Petrina’s electric harmonica. He also built the predecessor of the electric motor.
Unfortunately, he died of lung disease when he was 55 years old, only five days after he has got elected as a rector. In terms of his valuation, his name is under the windows of the National Museum in Prague. Where he belongs among 72 prominent names of Czech history. In his aforementioned hometown of Semily is a street where was his family house. This street is named after him now. Instead of the previous street of Na Drazkach, now people say Petrinova street.