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Galileo Galilei 1564-1642

Galileo Galilei (born on February 15, 1564) was an Italian scientist who supported Copernicanism, the idea that Earth orbits the sun. Galileo defended his views in Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. For doing so, he was tried by the Roman Inquisition, was found "suspect of heresy" and spent the rest of his life under house arrest. His findings changed our world view for all time.

While at Pisa, Galileo was exposed to the Aristotelian view of the world, then the leading scientific authority and the only one sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church. Galileo continued to study mathematics, supporting himself with minor teaching positions. During this time he began his two-decade study on objects in motion and published The Little Balance, describing the hydrostatic principles of weighing small quantities, which brought him some fame. This gained him a teaching post at the University of Pisa, in 1589. There Galileo conducted his fabled experiments with falling objects and produced his manuscript Du Motu (On Motion), a departure from Aristotelian views about motion and falling objects. Galileo developed an arrogance about his work, and his strident criticisms of Aristotle left him isolated among his colleagues. In 1604, Galileo published The Operations of the Geometrical and Military Compass, revealing his skills with experiments and practical technological applications.That same year, Galileo refined his theories on motion and falling objects, and developed the universal law of acceleration,which all objects in the universe obeyed. Galileo began to express openly his support of the Copernican theory that the earth and planets revolved around the sun. This challenged the doctrine of Aristotle and the established order set by the Catholic Church.In March 1610, he published a small booklet, The Starry Messenger, revealing his discoveries that the moon was not flat and smooth, but a sphere with mountains and craters. He found Venus had phases like the moon, proving it rotated around the sun.

While under house arrest, Galileo wrote Two New Sciences, a summary of his life’s work on the science of motion and strength of materials. It was printed in Holland in 1638.

But in time, the Church couldn’t deny the truth in science. In 1758, it lifted the ban on most works supporting Copernican theory, and by 1835 dropped its opposition to heliocentrism altogether. He played a major role in the scientific revolution and deserves the moniker of “The Father of Modern Science.”


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