Galileo: Inventions | Biography |Thoughts cannot be caged

“I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn’t learn something from him.” Quoted by a knowledgeable man and 15th February 1564 is the date he was born on, Galileo Galilei. Knowledge is power and curiosity is a powerful feeling. So let’s celebrate curiosity in all its glory.

Galileo: Inventions | Biography |Thoughts cannot be caged

Galileo Galilei was born in Italy on February 15th, 1564. His father Giulia Ammannati was a renowned lute player. In his young age, Galileo was interested in being a priest, but his father thought of making him a physician as it was a more profitable career path. So he persuaded him to get into the University of Pisa to study medicine, where he always had an inclination towards a number of subjects, including physics and mathematics. One day in college, he noticed a chandelier and its swinging motion and, measuring it with his heartbeat, noticed that the amount of time is same to swing back and forth no matter how far it reached. When he returned to his house, he put two pendulums together – a construction similar to the timepiece invented by Christian Huygens one hundred years later. This proved that Galilei’s talent swerved towards mathematics and science rather than medicine and after accidentally attending a lecture on geometry, he managed to convince his father to change his degree. And a new era of astronomy was banging on the door to get started.

Galileo’s telescope

Contrary to popular opinion – Galileo was not the inventor of the telescope. He got the idea from a Dutch optician who had invented a looker (Spyglass). Though he was the first to use a telescope to observe the sky and that’s when a new era of observational astronomy started. He refined the looker which had a magnification of 3 but Galileo’s telescope had a magnification of around 8-9. And then Galileo turned his telescope to the heavens. Craters on the moon, sunspots, phases of Venus were some of the famous observations he made for the first time. Though he got puzzled by the rings of Saturn as they tend to vanish when seen the edge on.

Among his significant observational discoveries, the most famous is the discovery of 4 largest moons of Jupiter known as Galilean moons: Io, Ganymede, Europa, and Callisto. And he thought of them as stars but through repeated observation, he came to the conclusion that these sidereal bodies are revolving around Jupiter. Galileo also made the first recorded studies of the planet Neptune, though he didn’t recognize it as a planet. While observing moons of Jupiter in 1612, he recorded a nearby star whose position is not found in any modern catalogs. This unknown was later recognized as planet Neptune. NASA sent a mission to Jupiter in the 1990s, it was called Galileo to honor the famed astronomer.

Galileo’s telescope

After 400 years, Galileo’s telescope still survives and is available in the Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza in Italy.

Galileo: Inventions | Biography 

Galileo also proved the law of falling bodies – All objects will fall at an equal rate when accounting for relatively minor differences in aerodynamics and weather conditions. Galileo supported this theory by getting on the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and dropped items of various weights. Different items hit the ground at the same time. Contrary to the fact established by Aristotle, the speed of a heavy object’s fall was not proportional to its weight.

Earth’s Orbit came with some hard times in the life of Galileo. After the telescope was invented in the Netherlands, he started to make increasingly powerful telescopes, which he used to monitor the phases of the planet Venus. After Venus went through phases to the moon, he concluded the sun must be at the center of the solar system, not the Earth as was previously assumed as in Galileo’s lifetime, all celestial bodies were thought to revolve around the Earth this was supported by the Catholic Church (Supreme authority), teaching opposite of this system was declared illegal in 1615.

Galileo, however, did not agree. In 1616, he was called to Rome by the authorities and warned not to teach this controversial theory. But in 1632, he treated it as a mathematical proposition, he published his work on the Copernican system which is the exact same theory he was summoned upon. He was found guilty of heresy and was under house arrest for the remaining nine years of his life. But he didn’t stop writing about astronomy and radiating his knowledge to others. For him, the truth was more important than his freedom.


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