Galileo's Initially Controversial Theories are Still Significant Today


We've all heard of Galileo Galilei, but how did he become a famous inventor in the first place?

Galileo was born in Pisa, Italy on February 15, 1564. At the age of 10, he was sent to school at the Monastery of Vallombrosa. His father, Vincenzo, took him out of school at the age of 14, because he worried that his son would become a poor man. Vincenzo then sent Galileo to Florence to spend a few years with tutors.

After his time in Florence, Galileo returned to his hometown to study medicine. At Pisa University, he challenged his teachers and questioned the works of Aristotle, who later discovered mathematics, and Euclid, the Greek geometer. At Pisa, Galileo was also tutored in mathematics by the Florentine Court mathematician, Ostilio Ricci. He outsmarted his entire class; for example, in class he created a wide lamp swing, and ultimately developed this device into a timing device called the pulsilogium, the pendulum clock.

At the age of 21, Galileo began to teach mathematics. First he tutored privately, and later he was picked to be a teacher in Pisa. When his father died in 1591, Galileo took a job that paid better at Padua, where he stayed for 18 years. Afterward, he got married to a woman named Marina Gamba, and they had three children.

In the summer of 1609, Galileo traveled to Venice, Italy, where he was intrigued by a novelty called perspicillium. He familiarized himself with how it worked and made one for himself; however, he made its lens 10 times stronger. This invention became Galileo's first telescope - the very device that brought him much fame.

Using his telescope Galileo discovered that the Earth isn’t in the center of the universe. Instead, it moves around the Sun—a theory that contradicted popular belief at the time. In 1616, Galileo went to Rome to talk to other scientists about his theory. It was not received well. Galileo was sent back to Florence with a warning not to share his ideas that challenged the norms at the time. Yet, in 1624, Galileo went to Rome to present his case again.

Although he was not supposed to continue his work, Galileo, now over 60-years-old, started writing his book The Dialogue. The book's characters were named Sagredo, Simplicio, and Salviate. Sagredo believed in the old theory, called Copernicism, Simplicio believed in Aristotle’s and Ptolemy’s theories, and Salciate was neutral but seemed to agreed with Sagredo. The book was a success in Europe until the Jesuits pointed out that Simplicio's character was based on Pope Urban VIII. Galileo was then dragged back to Rome and threatened with death. He was ultimately imprisoned in his own house instead. On January 8, 1642, Galileo died here.

To this day, Galileo is very famous for his theories and inventions, including thermometers, the trajectory of missiles, astronomical telescopes, and pendulum clocks. Many of these inventions are still useful today!

[Source: The Great Scientists]

Well written piece, Cristian! It's so fascinating that though Galileo's ideas are hundreds of years old, they still matter today. Nice work! – BeaUW-Madison (2016-09-27 19:25)
This article is really interesting. I've never heard Galileo's first name before! Good job. – CallanSennett Middle School (2016-09-27 19:28)
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