Galileo

 

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Feb 15, 1564 – Jan 8, 1642

Mathematician, Teacher, Physicist, Astronomer

Italian

“I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn’t learn something
from him.”

“The Bible shows the way to go to heaven, not the way the heavens go.”

Unlike Aristotle, most of Galileo’s theories, such as those on the solar system and falling objects, were correct. His writings, however, were unaccepted at the time and banned for nearly 200 years.

Galileo’s father taught Galileo to think for himself. Galileo was known as a lively debater and for his quick, biting wit. He began his training in medicine but became frustrated with the incorrect material in the texts he was given. One day, while sitting in church, he timed the intervals of a swinging chandelier with his pulse and found all the swings took the same amount of time, no matter how large the swing. He started experimenting with pendulums and discovered the time it took for a pendulum to swing depended on its length, not its mass or the size of the arc it made. Shortly after this experiment, Galileo switched his studies to mathematics and physics. Galileo firmly believed scientific conclusions must be based upon what could be observed, tested and proven. This concept was revolutionary. The Catholic Church demanded unquestioning adherence to its principles and doctrine, and Galileo’s discovery that falling bodies, regardless of mass, would fall at the same rate was in opposition to the Church’s teachings. This discovery became the basis for Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion over 100 years later. In 1609, Galileo made himself a telescope. With his advanced telescopes, he was able to observe many new phenomena, including evidence the earth moved around the sun. The Church taught the earth was immovable, and, therefore, the Inquisition charged Galileo with heresy. Faced with torture and stoppage, Galileo recanted his findings and was confined to life imprisonment in his home. Three hundred years later, the Church absolved Galileo.