“Galileo was that guy who invented the telescope.” This is what most people say when they think about Galileo. However, Galileo did not even invent the telescope; he only made improvements to it so it could be used for astronomy. Galileo did use it to make many important discoveries about astronomy, though; many of these discoveries helped to prove that the sun was the center of the galaxy. Galileo also made many important contributions to Physics; he discovered that the path of a projectile was a parabola, that objects do not fall with speeds proportional to their weight, and much more.
For these discoveries, Galileo is often referred to as the founder of modern experimental science. Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa, Italy on February 15, 1564. Until he was about 10 years old, Galileo lived in Pisa; in 1574 the family moved to Florence where Galileo started his education at Vallombroso, a nearby monastery. In 1581, Galileo went to the University of Pisa to study medicine, the field his father wanted him to peruse.
While at the University of Pisa, Galileo discovered his interest in Physics and Mathematics; he switched his major from medicine to mathematics. In 1585, he decided to leave the university without a degree to pursue a job as a teacher. He spend four years looking for a job; during this time, he tutored privately and wrote on some discoveries that he had made. In 1589, Galileo was given the job of professor of Mathematics at the University of Pisa. His contract was not renewed in 1592, but received another job at the University of Padua as the chair of Mathematics; his main duties were to teach Geometry and Astrology.
Galileo taught at the university for eighteen years. Galileo made many important discoveries from the time he was born to when he left the University of Padua, 1564-1610. While attending the University of Pisa, 1584, Galileo discovered the principle of isochronism. Isochronism showed that the period of a pendulum remains the same no matter what the amplitude is.
Galileo was said to have discovered this while watching a chandelier swing in the cathedral next to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Galileo proved the isochronism of a pendulum in 1602. He later used his discovery to design a clock that used pendulums. While Galileo was looking for a job after he left the University of Pisa, 1856, he invented the hydrostatic balance. This was a device that found the specific gravity of substances by weighing them under water. This is what gave Galileo his first notice from the public.
Galileo also discovered that Aristotle’s belief that objects fall at velocities proportional to their weight was wrong. He found that all objects fall at the same rate; it is only the density of the median they fall through that causes larger objects to fall slower. He believed that all objects would fall the same rate if they were in a vacuum. It is said Galileo showed his students at the University of Pisa his discovery by dropping a musket ball and a cannon ball at the same time from the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Some scientists in an article in New Scientist claim that Galileo was wrong in saying that all objects fall at the same rate. They base their calculations on the quantum theory.
Particles in the objects are constantly absorbing and releasing photons; this absorbing and releasing changes the total energy that the particles carry, which depends on temperature. This then changes the inertial mass of the object. From this the scientists concluded that heavier and cooler objects will fall faster than those objects that are lighter and hotter. Although this disproves what Galileo found, Galileo was still fairly correct in his findings; the effect these scientists found is very small. It is almost impossible to measure the difference in the time it takes two objects of different weights to reach the ground. (“Galileo Got it Wrong”, p.
36.) Galileo also made many discoveries while he was teaching at the University of Padua. Some of his little inventions were a calculating compass, a thermometer, and a pump. One of his bigger discoveries was that the path of a projectile was a parabola. The parabola was due to the combined forces of horizontal motion and vertical acceleration. He tested this by mounting a chute on a table and letting the ball on it fly off the edge.
He then marked the spot where the ball landed. This became very useful in the firing of ballisticas, guns, and rockets. Another discovery Galileo made while he was at the University of Padua was the “law of fall,” 1604. Galileo explained the “law of fall” as “the spaces passed over in natural motion are in proportion to the squares of the time.” This is basically the acceleration of objects in a free fall.
Galileo based this law on Newton’s laws of motion. During his last years at the University of Padua, Galileo heard about a knew invention called the telescope. At Padua, he built a telescope that was 20 times as powerful as the one that was first invented. Galileo used this for astronomical purposes. During the time this telescope was built, the belief of most people, including the Catholic Church, was that the Earth was the center of the universe.
This view of the universe is referred to as the Ptolemaic system. They also believed that all things around the earth were perfect and unchanging. There were some people who opposed the Ptolemaic system; these people believed in the Copernican system. This is where the sun is the center, rather than the sun.
Galileo believed in the Copernican system. When Galileo pointed his telescope to the sky, he made many discoveries that confirmed the Copernican system. One thing he found was that the moon was not a perfect sphere as thought of in the Ptolemaic system; it had craters and mountains not visible to the human eye. Another discovery Galileo made was that Jupiter had moons going around it. This conflicted with the Ptolemaic system. It proved that the earth was not the only planet with moons going around it.
Galileo also found that Venus had phases just like the Moon; this meant that it had to be orbiting the sun. He also discovered that the sun had spots on it that could be used to see how the earth orbits around it. These discoveries all contradicted the Ptolemaic system and confirmed the Copernican system. In 1610, Galileo started to publish his findings on the Copernican system. The first publication of his findings was in “The Starry Messenger.” The publications of Galileo’s findings got him in a lot of trouble with the Catholic Church.
In 1616, Galileo was summoned to Rome and band by the Catholic Church to discuss the Copernican system. Galileo followed the rule until 1632 when he published the “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems.” This article told Galileo’s views of why the Copernican system was better than the Ptolemaic system. Galileo was summoned to Rome again and given life imprisonment under house arrest for disobeying orders. The charge given to Galileo was very unfair considering that he was right. In 1979, Pope John Paul II wanted the Catholic Church to reverse the condemnation of Galileo.
In 1992, the Catholic Church admitted to their error in condemning Galileo to house arrest. Galileo did not give up his work because he was under house arrest. He spent much of his time writing publications of his early work. He had to sneak his publications to Holland to be printed, though, because they were forbidden to be printed in Italy. He wrote of Isochronism, the parabola path projectiles take, the “law of fall”, and much more. In 1637, Galileo went blind, but he found assistants to write for him.
“Discourses upon Two New Scientists” was one of the most known articles that Galileo wrote during this time. Galileo also worked on clock that used a pendulum to run during this time. Galileo died in early January of 1642. As you see, Galileo is much more than just a man who used a astronomical telescope.
Galileo made many important discoveries for the field of Physics; he opened the way for scientists to combined Mathematic and Physics. He also proved that the sun was the center of the galaxy. Galileo deserved to be called the founder of modern experimental science. Bibliography Dunn, Travis. Galileo Biography.
Http:/es.rice.edu/ES/ humsoc/Galileo/index.html. 23 January 1996. Field, J.V. Galileo Galilei. http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/-history/Mathematicians/Galileo.html. August 1995.
“Galileo Got it Wrong.” New Scientist. 4 June 1987, p. 36. MacKeith, Bill.
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15, pp. 25-44. O’Malley, Charles D. “Galileo.” The New Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Inc. Chicago, Illinois.
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