Galileo Biography


SUMMARY: Galileo (15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642) Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher
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Galileo Galilei, one of the world’s most renowned and famous scientists, was born in Pisa, Italy on February 15, 1564. His father was Vincenzo Galilei, who died in 1591, wished for Galileo to go to medical school, and so Galileo went to the University of Pisa to study medicine in 1581. However, Galileo was actually more interested in math and science than in medicine, and he ended up studying math instead. In 1589 Galileo received a job from the University as the head of the math department. It was during this time that he proved that objects fell at the same speed, no matter how heavy they are. He would work at the University of Pisa until 1592 when he would switch to the University of Padua where he would also become a professor of mathematics, and work there for about 18 years.

While at the University of Padua, Galileo had three children between the years 1600 to 1606 with a woman named Marina Gamba, although they were never officially married. His two oldest children became nuns, but his youngest son was able to get married. Some suppose that this is because there was a dowry required for daughters, which Galileo was not able to pay, and since Galileo came from nobility, and his daughters were considered to be illegitimate, he didn’t feel that he would be able to get them married, and so they went into the convent.

During Galileo’s 18 years at the University of Padua, Galileo accomplished much scientific and technological advancement. He would explore his love for mechanical things. He loved to visit the shipyard and explore mechanical devices that could benefit the naval industry. He worked on an improved a precision compass, which was more precise than previous versions. He invented a pump during this time as well. He also continued to be interested in physics, continuing the work of his predecessors. He formulated the correct mathematical expression for acceleration.

One of the things for which he is famous is improving the telescope. He was able to see planets, their moons, the moon and the sun up to 20 times as close as previous telescopes. With this tool, his interest and study of astronomy, he proved that Nicolas Copernicus was correct about the earth not being the center of the universe, or even the solar system. He was able to show that the sun is actually the center of the solar system and that the other planets orbit the sun.

In 1613, Marina Gamba, the mother of Galileo’s children, married another man, but remained friends with Galileo.

Because of Galileo’s insistence that the earth rotated around the sun, Galileo got in trouble with the Catholic inquisition. The inquisition was an organization in the church responsible getting rid of heresies. He was warned in 1624 that he could write about the sun being the center of the solar system only as a mathematical idea, and not as a fact. It was the belief of the Catholic Church at that time that the earth was the center of the universe. However, after Galileo’s book on the subject was published, he had to defend himself in front of the inquisition. Galileo was found guilty of heresy and would remain under house arrest for the remainder of his life. In 1638, he was allowed to move to his home in Florence where he lived out his life until he died in 1642.

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