The Life and Work of Galileo
Galileo Galilei is considered to be one of the greatest mathematicians of all time. He made life changing discoveries and mystified many with his knowledge. However, not all of his work was accepted well. Galileo challenged the church creating a controversy that will never be forgotten.
Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa, Italy February 18, 1564. He was the son of Vincenzo Galilei, a member of a Nobel family, a musician and a mathematician. Galileo, at an early age, developed a great love for mathematics and mechanics. However, his parents urged him to seek medical professions which promised more fortune. Galileo’s love for mathematics turned him away from his parents wishes only to follow his natural talents.
Before reaching the age of twenty, Galileo made a great observation of mechanics. He observed a swinging lamp in the cathedral of Pisa which led to his theory of the pendulum and fifty years later led to the construction of an astronomical clock. In 1588, he was given the title of the Archimedes of his time. He also received a position of lecture-ship at the University of Pisa. With this position, he began his research on free-fall and eventually proved that all objects in a vacuum would fall at the same rate of speed. This observation was contradictory to the previous beliefs that the rate of fall of an object was proportional to the object’s mass. The Aristoteleans refuted his findings, however, and remained faithful to their master’s discoveries.
By the influence of his friends, he received a position as the chair of mathematics at the University of Pisa. He remained there for eighteen years before returning to the original home of his family in Florence. There he was appointed mathematician and philosopher by the Grand Duke of Tuscany. His continued his work with the investigation of nature and followed by experimenting with inclined planes. His laws of free-fall were then established and have remained the same ever since. He also wrote the laws of projectiles and formulated what would eventually become Newton’s laws. Not only that, but Galileo also discovered the principles of flotation and invented a thermoscope. However, the thermoscope was defective.
Galileo’s discoveries of astronomy, for which he is mostly known, resulted from his invention of the telescope. He considered the laws of refraction, he built a telescope that made it possible to see objects at three times their size. Within one night he improved it to be able to see objects to thirty-two times their size. As a result of these discoveries, he began his research of the heavens.
His first discovery showed that the moon was not a smooth sphere as was commonly believed, but contained hills and valleys much like the earth. He also discovered the satellites of Jupiter which displayed characteristics much like those of our own solar system. However, in contradiction to popular Copernican belief that Mercury and Venus were...