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The Cambridge Companion to Galileo

The Cambridge Companion to Galileo
by Peter K. MacHamer (Editor)

Galileo Galilei 1564-1642

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Crime of Galileo by Giorgio Santillano.

Galileo Biography 

Biography by Peter Landry at


Galileo was an Italian. At the age of 19 he discovered the principle of isochronism that each oscillation of a pendulum takes the same time despite changes in amplitude. Soon thereafter he became known for his ideas on hydrostatic balance; and, further, his treatise on the center of gravity of falling bodies. He found experimentally that bodies do not fall with velocities proportional to their weights, a conclusion received with hostility because it contradicted the accepted teaching of Aristotle. Galileo discovered that the path of a projectile is a parabola, and he is credited with anticipating Isaac Newton's laws of motion. In 1609 Galileo constructed the first astronomical telescope, which he used to discover the four largest satellites of Jupiter and the stellar composition of the Milky Way, and in 1632 he published his Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, a work that upheld the Copernican system rather than the Ptolematic system and marked a turning point in scientific and philosophical thought. Brought (1633) before the Inquisition in Rome, he was made to renounce all his beliefs and writings supporting the Copernican theory.


Galileo Galilei

Hypertext narrative of his accomplishments provides photographs and images of Galileo Galilei's inventions. Discusses his main concepts.


Galilei was born in Pisa in 1564, the son of Vincenzo Galilei, well known for his studies of music, and Giulia Ammannati. He studied at Pisa, where he later held the chair in mathematics from 1589 - 1592. He was then appointed to the chair of mathematics at the University of Padua, where he remained until 1610. During these years he carried out studies and experiments in mechanics, and also built a thermoscope. He devised and constructed a geometrical and military compass, and wrote a handbook which describes how to use this instrument. In 1594 he obtained the patent for a machine to raise water levels. He invented the microscope, and built a telescope with which he made celestial observations, the most spectacular of which was his discovery of the satellites of Jupiter. In 1610 he was nominated the foremost Mathematician of the University of Pisa and given the title of mathematician to the Grand Duke of Tuscany. He studied Saturn and observed the phases of Venus. In 1611 he went to Rome. He became a member of the Accademia dei Lincei and observed the sunspots. In 1612 he began to encounter serious opposition to his theory of the motion of the earth that he taught after Copernicus. In 1614, Father Tommaso Caccini denounced the opinions of Galileo on the motion of the Earth from the pulpit of Santa Maria Novella, judging them to be erroneous. Galileo therefore went to Rome, where he defended himself against charges that had been made against him but, in 1616, he was admonished by Cardinal Bellarmino and told that he could not defend Copernican astronomy because it went against the doctrine of the Church. In 1622 he wrote the Saggiatore (The Assayer) which was approved and published in 1623. In 1630 he returned to Rome to obtain the right to publish his Dialogue on the two chief world systems which was eventually published in Florence in 1632. In October of 1632 he was summoned by the Holy Office to Rome. The tribunal passed a sentence condemning him and compelled Galileo to solemnly abjure his theory. He was sent to exile in Siena and finally, in December of 1633, he was allowed to retire to his villa in Arcetri, the Gioiello. His health condition was steadily declining, - by 1638 he was completely blind, and also by now bereft of the support of his daughter, Sister Maria Celeste, who died in 1634. Galileo died in Arcetri on 8 January 1642. For the family of Galileo, see the genealogical tree. Within the Museo, Sala IV is entirely dedicated to Galileo and his studies; among other things are preserved the lenses, the inclined plane, the lodestone, the model of the application of the pendulum to the clock, several portraits and a relic.


Galileo Biography

From the Mac Tutor History of Mathematics Archives


Galileo Galilei's father, Vincenzo Galilei (c.1520 - 1591), who described himself as a nobleman of Florence, was a professional musician. He carried out experiments on strings to support his musical theories. Galileo studied medicine at the university of Pisa, but his real interests were always in mathematics and natural philosophy. He is chiefly remembered for his work on free fall, his use of the telescope and his employment of experimentation.

After a spell teaching mathematics, first privately in Florence and then at the university of Pisa, in 1592 Galileo was appointed professor of mathematics at the university of Padua (the university of the Republic of Venice). There his duties were mainly to teach Euclid's geometry and standard (geocentric) astronomy to medical students, who would need to know some astronomy in order to make use of astrology in their medical practice. However, Galileo apparently discussed more unconventional forms of astronomy and natural philosophy in a public lecture he gave in connection with the appearance of a New Star (now known as 'Kepler's supernova') in 1604. In a personal letter written to Kepler (1571 - 1630) in 1598, Galileo had stated that he was a Copernican (believer in the theories of Copernicus). No public sign of this belief was to appear until many years later...


Galileo Biography

From the Catholic Encyclopedia


Generally called GALILEO. Born at Pisa, 18 February, 1564; died 8 January, 1642. His father, Vincenzo Galilei, belonged to a noble family of straitened fortune, and had gained some distinction as a musician and mathematician. The boy at an early age manifested his aptitude for mathematical and mechanical pursuits, but his parents, wishing to turn him aside from studies which promised no substantial return, destined him for the medical profession. But all was in vain, and at an early age the youth had to be left to follow the bent of his native genius, which speedily placed him in the very first rank of natural philosophers...


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