Galilei Galileo


Galileo Galilei was born on February 15, 1564 in Pisa, Italy. Galileo pioneered "experimental scientific method" and was the first to use a refracting telescope to make important astronomical discoveries. In 1609 Galileo learned of the invention of the telescope in Holland. From the barest description he constructed a vastly superior model. Galileo made a series of profound discoveries using his new telescope, including the moons of the planet Jupiter and the phases of the planet Venus (similar to those of Earth's moon).

As a boy, Galileo stood in awe as one of the most powerful families in Europe, the Medici, rose to power. As he grew into a legendary figure, he would become private tutor to the Medici heirs and contribute greatly to their legacy and become the greatest scientist of the age. Wine become light held together by light and moisture, Galileo was on of the many wonders that the Medici family took credit for. He would entertain and amuse family and guests with experiments and never before seen instruments. He fulfilled one of the new requirements of principality provided the young rulers with a technical education. Galileo had discovered the uniformity of pendulum vibrations, a critical step in the accurate measurement of time. Here he had made a name for himself as a brilliant thinker, and a trouble maker.

Galileo was the first man to discover that the sun had spots, to notice the unusual shape of Saturn, to identify the Milky Way, not to exclude the first man to spot the moons of Jupiter. He named these mysterious objects after his patrons and protectors, The Medici Stars. 

In 1610, the Medici named Galileo, Royal Professor of Mathematics and Philosophy. As his reputation spread through Italy and Europe, his Medici patrons, granted him celebrity and protection. In return, Galileo assured that his discoveries emerged first at the court of the Medici. 

Galileo asked whether two balls of different weights would fall at the same speed, most people thought the question was absurd. By dropping two balls from the top of the leaning tower of Pisa, Galileo proved that all objects fall at the same rate of acceleration. The Royal Professor had prefigured Newton's theory of gravity by half a century. 

All of Galileo's new findings and theories were a big threat to the religious conformity. Galileo knew how powerful and dangerous the truth could be and he knew his new ideas were testing the Inquisitions patience. For over a thousand years, the church had taught that the sun and all the planets revolved around the earth but Galileo had observed the universe for himself. He had come to the radical conclusion that in fact, the earth revolved around the sun. This was a earth shattering finding. Galileo created and submitted a "fictional" story to the church of Florence. The story was between three friends who happened to be discussing the structure of the universe. When the dialogue hit the streets of Florence, it became an instant best seller. The pope decides to put an end to the scientific theories because it was a body of knowledge that contradicts the authoritative assertion of the church. 

Galileo's support for the heliocentric theory got him into trouble with the Roman Catholic Church. In 1633, Galileo is sent to Rome to face the inquisition. On the 22nd of June in 1633, on his knees in the belly of the Vatican, Galileo denied what he knew to be true. "I still hold as most true and indisputable, the stability of the earth and the motion of the sun, I am in your hands, do with me what you please" The Inquisition convicted him of heresy and forced him to recant (publicly withdraw) his support of Copernicus. Due to his old age and being well known, his life was spared and they sentenced him to life imprisonment, but because of his advanced age, he was allowed to serve his term under house arrest at his villa in Arcetri outside of Florence.

Galileo's originality as a scientist lay in his method of inquiry. First he reduced problems to a simple set of terms on the basis of everyday experience and common-sense logic. Then he analyzed and resolved them according to simple mathematical descriptions. The success with which he applied this technique to the analysis of motion opened the way for modern mathematical and experimental physics. 

Galileo became blind at the age of 72. His blindness has often been attributed to damage done to his eyes by telescopic observations he made of the Sun in 1613. The truth is he was blinded by a combination of cataracts and glaucoma. Galileo died under house arrest in Arcetri in 1642—the year Isaac Newton was born. 


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