Who Was Galileo Galilei and Which of His Discoveries Do You Think Is Most Impressive?
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), was an Italian astronomer, physicist and mathematician, a pioneer of experimental science who made great contributions to the fields of mathematics, physics, and astronomy. He realized that a pendulum can be used to measure time. With his pendulum, he was able to study motion. His many discoveries formed the basis for Newton’s laws of motion.
Galileo also made the first thermometer and the first telescope which could be used for astronomy. Using this, he discovered four moons of Jupiter and described the Milky Way. He learned that the moon had craters and mountains. He observed Saturn and was the first to see its rings. He also discovered sunspots. He supported Copernicus’s views that the earth moved round the sun.
Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa, Italy, in 1564. His family moved to Florence, and Galileo was educated in a nearby monastery. He later returned to Pisa to attend the city’s university. He planned to learn about medicine. Soon though, he became more interested in mathematics and physics. He also studied philosophy.
However, Galileo never completed his degree. He left the university in 1585. Still, Galileo continued to learn for the rest of his life. He studied the world around him. He also carried out many experiments to satisfy his curiosity. Later in his life, this quest for knowledge would bring Galileo a lot of trouble.
Many people looked up to Galileo. He was known as a great teacher and scientist. Still, others thought Galileo’s ideas were dangerous. His strongest critics were leaders of the Catholic Church. Their greatest clashes came when Galileo began building telescopes in 1609. Galileo didn’t invent the telescope, but he did make major improvements to the device. His telescopes were much stronger than others made during his lifetime. Galileo was also the first person known to use a telescope to look into space.
But one of his findings in particular put him at odds with the Catholic Church. Galileo found evidence to suggest that Earth was not the center of the universe. That may not seem like a ground-shaking idea to you. But during Galileo’s lifetime, most people believed that everything in the sky—the sun, moon, planets, and stars—revolved around our planet.
The Church taught that God had built the universe with Earth at the center. What evidence did Galileo have that the Church’s ideas about the solar system were wrong? First, he learned that Venus revolved around the sun instead of the Earth. Further, Galileo discovered the first four moons that circle Jupiter. Findings like these led him to believe that the sun was the real center of our solar system.
Eventually, his disagreements with the Catholic Church caught up with Galileo. In 1632, he was called before the Inquisition. This was a body of the Church that worked to root out heresy. After a long trial, Galileo was convicted. He was under house arrest until he passed away on January 8, 1642. It was many more years before the Catholic Church fully accepted his findings. Today, Galileo is celebrated as one of history’s greatest minds.