ANDRIJA MOHOROVIČIĆ BIOGRAPHY
Andrija Mohorovičić was born in Volosko near Opatija in Croatia, on January 23, 1857. His father, Andrija came from Rukavac in Istria. He was a blacksmith who made anchors. His mother, Marija nee Poščić was born in Opatija. She died soon after Andrija’s birth.
The house where A. Mohorovičić was born and the memorial on it
Andrija attended primary school in Volosko and grammar school in Rijeka and graduated with excellent grades. By the age of 15 he spoke English, French and Italian fluently. Later he learned German, Czech, Latin and Ancient Greek. He then enrolled in the department of mathematics and physics at the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Prague, where he studied in the period of 1875 – 1878. One of his professors was Ernst Mach, the famous physicist. As a student in Prague he was secretary to the Croatian Academic Society “Hrvat”.
Having completed his studies he was appointed teacher at the grammar school in Zagreb for one year (1879-80). In 1880 he was transferred to the secondary school in Osijek. On November 1, 1882 he was transferred to the Nautical School in Bakar, near Rijeka upon his own request. He worked as a teacher at the Nautical School in Bakar, teaching mathematics, physics and meteorology. In 1886 he was conferred the title of secondary school professor. In Bakar, in 1883, Mohorovičić married Silvija Vernić, who gave birth to four sons – Andrija, Ivan, Stjepan and Franjo.
During his stay in Bakar, Mohorovičić came for the first time into direct contact with meteorology, which he taught to students. This stimulated his interest in the problems of this science. In 1887 he established a meteorological station and he maintained continuous meteorological observations. He also investigated the movement of the air and the clouds. Thus, he constructed the nephoscope, the instrument which enabled him to determine the speed and the direction of cloud movement. During his stay in Bakar, Mohorovičić published six scientific papers.
Mohorovičić taught at the Nautical School in Bakar until 1891. At his own request he was then transferred to the science grammar school in Zagreb, where he became the director of the Meteorological Observatory on January 1, 1892. There he continued his research in meteorology, but after the turn of the century he focused his scientific activity on seismology which soon became his chief concern. He is today internationally recognized to be one of the great men of seismology and fundamental science from the first half of the 20th century.
Building at Grič 3 in Zagreb
In 1893, having defended his dissertation "On the Observation of Clouds, and the Daily and Annual Cloud Period in Bakar", he was awarded the doctorate of philosophy at the University of Zagreb. Soon afterwards he wrote the qualifying thesis for the position of privat-docent (unsalaried university lecturer), and in 1910 became titular associate professor.
From 1893 Mohorovičić taught courses in geophysics and astronomy at the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb. From the academic year 1899/1900, according to the preserved documentation, he also held courses in meteorology and climatology at the Faculty of Forestry (2 hours lectures and 1 hour exercise. Until 1900 he also held lectures at the Higher School of Commerce, but considering the extent of his activities he, at his own request, was released of teaching.
As early as 1893 he had become an associate member, and in 1898 a full member of the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts in Zagreb (today HAZU).
In 1922 Andrija Mohorovičić retired. He died in Zagreb on December 18, 1936.
The boundary surface which separates the Earth’s crust from its mantle – the largest natural object on the Earth – was named the Mohorovičić Discontinuity in his honour. In 1970 the crater on the invisible side of the Moon (diameter 55 km), as well as the asteroid No. 8422 in 1996, were also named after him. Recently the discontinuity between the crust and the mantle on the Mars and the Moon are also referred to as the Mohorovičić discontinuity. Geophysical Institute at Department of Geophysics, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, the high school in Rijeka, primary school in Matulji and several streets in Croatian towns also carry his name. As only very few Croatian scientists of the international reputation ever, Andrija Mohorovičić made his whole career in his homeland, where he is recognized as the founder of the Zagreb seismological school, the Croatian seismological and meteorological surveys, and of the public time service. Owing to the tradition he initiated, University of Zagreb is among the few in the world awarding a degree in seismology on the undergraduate level.
On December 19, 1936, a day after the death of Andrija Mohorovičić, the Zagreb paper Novosti published the following article:
"The scientist Professor Andrija Mohorovičić, member of the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts, one of the founders of modern seismology, has died. He was a well-known and respected figure in Zagreb, and his scientific work in the field of seismology gained him world recognition. He is today considered one of the founders of modern seismology in the world. Doctor Mohorovičić raised the meteorological observatory in Zagreb from modest beginnings to a completely equipped modern institute that enjoyed world renown, especially in seismic measurements. He also organized the meteorological service in Croatia and Slavonia. At the beginning of his scientific career Doctor Mohorovičić devoted most of his energy to meteorology, but he had most success in the field of seismology and he founded the so-called Zagreb School of world recognition in this field of science."
Courses that Andrija Mohorovičić attended during his studies
D. Skoko, J. Mokrović (1998): Andrija Mohorovičić, Školska knjiga, Zagreb.
M. Orlić (1998): Studentski dani Andrije Mohorovičića u Pragu. Geofizika 15, 119-123.
Archive of the Department of Geophysics, Faculty of Science, Zagreb