Galilei, Galileo (1564-1642)

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Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), an Italian mathematician, astronomer, and physicist, is considered a founder of the experimental method. The son of a musician, Galileo was educated in a monastery near Florence before studying medicine at the University of Pisa and mathematics with a private tutor. After completing a treatise on the center of gravity in solids, he became a lecturer (later professor) in mathematics at the University of Padua. The story of his dropping weights from the Tower of Pisa is apocryphal.

Galileo's conflict with the Catholic church arose over his support of Copernicus's theory that the planets revolve around the sun. He was the first to apply a mathematical analysis to the mechanics of this theory. Among his other accomplishments, Galileo suggested the use of pendulums for clocks and proposed the Law of Uniform Acceleration for falling bodies. He developed the astronomical telescope, with which he discovered craters on the moon, sunspots, the phases of Mercury, and the satellites of Jupiter. He showed that the Milky Way is composed of stars.

Galileo lived the last eight years of his life under house arrest for having held and taught Copernican doctrine. His major works are Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, Ptolemaic and Copernican (1632) and Dialogue Concerning Two New Sciences (1638).


Works by the Author

Galileo. Dialogues Concerning the Two New Sciences. Translated by Henry Crew and Alfonso de Salvio. Chicago: Northwestern University, 1946.

Galileo. Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems Ptolemaic and Copernicus. Translated by Stillman Drake. Berkeley: University of California, 1953.


The biographical material about the author originally appeared on The Goodrich Room: Interactive Tour website.

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