Galileo was an Italian physicist and astronomer who made many significant contributions to the scientific revolution, which were namely in astronomy, the use of the telescope to view heavenly bodies.
Galileo was able to create a telescope that magnified an object ten times. He gave this telescope to naval and maritime operations. Galileo then built a telescope with 20 times magnification. He also saw that the Milky Way was composed of stars, discovered four satellites circling Jupiter and discovered mountains and valleys on the moon.
2. Observations and Discoveries
Galileo was able to use the telescope to observe and discover sunspots, mountains and valleys on the Moon, the four largest satellites of Jupiter and the phases of Venus. Galileo also proved that since not all heavenly bodies rotated around the Earth there had to be another center that existed.
3. “The Starry Messenger”
Galileo ’s “The Starry Messenger” was about his observations regarding planetary rotation around a center other than Earth as well as his observations about the moon and other planetary bodies.
Galileo, using mathematical techniques, discovered the laws of falling bodies and the motions of projectiles known as physics. He studied and eventually became a professor of mathematics.
5. Pivotal Figure
In the age of Enlightenment, Galileo was a pivotal figure in the battle against authority for freedom of inquiry and discovery beyond traditional methods of learning and study.
6. Refuting Aristotle
Galileo refuted Aristotle’s belief that speed of fall is proportional to the weight of the object. He proved his point by simultaneously dropping two objects of the same material but different
weights from the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
7. Mathematics: The Language of Earth
Galileo’s mathematical work was pivotal in uncovering and explaining familiar occurrences, such as the free fall of an object to the ground. Galileo believed that the Earth was not a mystery; we simply did not know what language that we needed to speak in order to understand our world. Galileo found that language in mathematics.
8. Many Important Discoveries
Galileo made many important discoveries in the first decade of the 17th century. In addition to proving that the acceleration of any body in free fall did not depend on its weight, he also discovered that “the distance traveled in free fall is proportional to the square of the time elapsed.”
9. Precursor to Newton’s 1st Law of Motion
Galileo believed that an object would move along the Earth’s surface at the same speed, provided that object did not meet any resistance along its path. Galileo’s idea was a precursor to Isaac Newton’s first law of motion: an object in motion will stay in motion unless interfered with.
10. A Sincere Believer
Galileo is historically significant because he questioned Aristotle’s theories and dared to challenge the thinkers of his day to free themselves from the restrictions of traditional methods of thinking and instead develop a scientific method that was all about observation and the formation of new theories and ideas. Galileo faced a lot of criticism because of his beliefs and was even tried for challenging old ways. However, years later a more enlightened people see and appreciate Galileo’s willingness to speak up and challenge the status quo. Even Pope John Paul II had strong feelings about Galileo’s views, describing Galileo as “a sincere believer, [who] showed himself to be more perceptive in this regard than the theologians who opposed him.”
Learn more with these Galileo websites.