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Galileo Galilei

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Essay title: Galileo Galilei

Galileo Galilei was born at Pisa on the 18th of February in 1564. His father,

Vincenzo Galilei, belonged to a noble family and had gained some distinction as a

musician and a mathematician. At an early age, Galileo manifested his ability to learn

both mathematical and mechanical types of things, but his parents, wishing to turn him

aside from studies which promised no substantial return, steered him toward some sort of

medical profession. But this had no effect on Galileo. During his youth he was allowed to

follow the path that he wished to.

Although in the popular mind Galileo is remembered chiefly as an astronomer,

however, the science of mechanics and dynamics pretty much owe their existence to his

findings. Before he was twenty, observation of the oscillations of a swinging lamp in the

cathedral of Pisa led him to the discovery of the isochronism of the pendulum, which

theory he utilized fifty years later in the construction of an astronomical clock. In 1588, an

essay on the center of gravity in solids obtained for him the title of the Archimedes of his

time, and secured him a teaching spot in the University of Pisa. During the years

immediately following, taking advantage of the celebrated leaning tower, he laid the

foundation experimentally of the theory of falling bodies and demonstrated the falsity of

the peripatetic maxim, which is that an objects rate of descent is proportional to its weight.

When he challenged this it made all of the followers of Aristotle extremely angry, they

would not except the fact that their leader could have been wrong. Galileo, in result of

this and other troubles, found it prudent to quit Pisa and move to Florence, the original

home of his family. In Florence he was nominated by the Venetian Senate in 1592 to the

chair of mathematics in the University of Padua, which he occupied for eighteen years,

with ever-increasing fame. After that he was appointed philosopher and mathematician to

the Grand Duke of Tuscany. During the whole of this period, and to the close of his life,

his investigation of Nature, in all her fields, was never stopped. Following up his

experiments at Pisa with others upon inclined planes, Galileo established the laws of falling

bodies as they are still formulated. He likewise demonstrated the laws of projectiles, and

largely anticipated the laws of motion as finally established by Newton. In statics, he gave

the first direct and satisfactory demonstration of the laws of equilibrium and the principle

of virtual velocities. In hydrostatics, he set forth the true principle of flotation. He invented

a thermometer, though a defective one, but he did not, as is sometimes claimed for him,

invent the microscope.

Though, as has been said, it is by his astronomical discoveries that he is most

widely remembered, it is not these that constitute his most substantial title to fame. In this

connection, his greatest achievement was undoubtedly his virtual invention of the

telescope. Hearing early in 1609 that a Dutch optician, named Lippershey, had produced

an instrument by which the apparent size of remote objects was magnified, Galileo at once

realized the principle by which such a result could alone be attained, and, after a single

night devoted to consideration of the laws of refraction, he succeeded in constructing a

telescope which magnified three times, its magnifying power being soon increased to

thirty-two. This instrument being provided and turned

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