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Essay/Term paper: Galileo

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Humanities

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"Galileo was that guy who

invented the telescope." This is what most people say when

they think about Galileo. However, Galileo did not even

invent the telescope; he only made improvements to it so it

could be used for astronomy. Galileo did use it to make

many important discoveries about astronomy, though; many

of these discoveries helped to prove that the sun was the

center of the galaxy. Galileo also made many important

contributions to Physics; he discovered that the path of a

projectile was a parabola, that objects do not fall with

speeds proportional to their weight, and much more. For

these discoveries, Galileo is often referred to as the founder

of modern experimental science. Galileo Galilei was born in

Pisa, Italy on February 15, 1564. Until he was about 10

years old, Galileo lived in Pisa; in 1574 the family moved to

Florence where Galileo started his education at

Vallombroso, a nearby monastery. In 1581, Galileo went to

the University of Pisa to study medicine, the field his father

wanted him to peruse. While at the University of Pisa,

Galileo discovered his interest in Physics and Mathematics;

he switched his major from medicine to mathematics. In

1585, he decided to leave the university without a degree to

pursue a job as a teacher. He spend four years looking for a

job; during this time, he tutored privately and wrote on some

discoveries that he had made. In 1589, Galileo was given the

job of professor of Mathematics at the University of Pisa.

His contract was not renewed in 1592, but received another

job at the University of Padua as the chair of Mathematics;

his main duties were to teach Geometry and Astrology.

Galileo taught at the university for eighteen years. Galileo

made many important discoveries from the time he was born

to when he left the University of Padua, 1564-1610. While

attending the University of Pisa, 1584, Galileo discovered

the principle of isochronism. Isochronism showed that the

period of a pendulum remains the same no matter what the

amplitude is. Galileo was said to have discovered this while

watching a chandelier swing in the cathedral next to the

Leaning Tower of Pisa. Galileo proved the isochronism of a

pendulum in 1602. He later used his discovery to design a

clock that used pendulums. While Galileo was looking for a

job after he left the University of Pisa, 1856, he invented the

hydrostatic balance. This was a device that found the

specific gravity of substances by weighing them under water.

This is what gave Galileo his first notice from the public.

Galileo also discovered that Aristotle's belief that objects fall

at velocities proportional to their weight was wrong. He

found that all objects fall at the same rate; it is only the

density of the median they fall through that causes larger

objects to fall slower. He believed that all objects would fall

the same rate if they were in a vacuum. It is said Galileo

showed his students at the University of Pisa his discovery

by dropping a musket ball and a cannon ball at the same

time from the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Some scientists in an

article in New Scientist claim that Galileo was wrong in

saying that all objects fall at the same rate. They base their

calculations on the quantum theory. Particles in the objects

are constantly absorbing and releasing photons; this

absorbing and releasing changes the total energy that the

particles carry, which depends on temperature. This then

changes the inertial mass of the object. From this the

scientists concluded that heavier and cooler objects will fall

faster than those objects that are lighter and hotter. Although

this disproves what Galileo found, Galileo was still fairly

correct in his findings; the effect these scientists found is very

small. It is almost impossible to measure the difference in the

time it takes two objects of different weights to reach the

ground. ("Galileo Got it Wrong", p. 36.) Galileo also made

many discoveries while he was teaching at the University of

Padua. Some of his little inventions were a calculating

compass, a thermometer, and a pump. One of his bigger

discoveries was that the path of a projectile was a parabola.

The parabola was due to the combined forces of horizontal

motion and vertical acceleration. He tested this by mounting

a chute on a table and letting the ball on it fly off the edge.

He then marked the spot where the ball landed. This became

very useful in the firing of ballisticas, guns, and rockets.

Another discovery Galileo made while he was at the

University of Padua was the "law of fall," 1604. Galileo

explained the "law of fall" as "the spaces passed over in

natural motion are in proportion to the squares of the time."

This is basically the acceleration of objects in a free fall.

Galileo based this law on Newton's laws of motion. During

his last years at the University of Padua, Galileo heard about

a knew invention called the telescope. At Padua, he built a

telescope that was 20 times as powerful as the one that was

first invented. Galileo used this for astronomical purposes.

During the time this telescope was built, the belief of most

people, including the Catholic Church, was that the Earth

was the center of the universe. This view of the universe is

referred to as the Ptolemaic system. They also believed that

all things around the earth were perfect and unchanging.

There were some people who opposed the Ptolemaic

system; these people believed in the Copernican system.

This is where the sun is the center, rather than the sun.

Galileo believed in the Copernican system. When Galileo

pointed his telescope to the sky, he made many discoveries

that confirmed the Copernican system. One thing he found

was that the moon was not a perfect sphere as thought of in

the Ptolemaic system; it had craters and mountains not

visible to the human eye. Another discovery Galileo made

was that Jupiter had moons going around it. This conflicted

with the Ptolemaic system. It proved that the earth was not

the only planet with moons going around it. Galileo also

found that Venus had phases just like the Moon; this meant

that it had to be orbiting the sun. He also discovered that the

sun had spots on it that could be used to see how the earth

orbits around it. These discoveries all contradicted the

Ptolemaic system and confirmed the Copernican system. In

1610, Galileo started to publish his findings on the

Copernican system. The first publication of his findings was

in "The Starry Messenger." The publications of Galileo's

findings got him in a lot of trouble with the Catholic Church.

In 1616, Galileo was summoned to Rome and band by the

Catholic Church to discuss the Copernican system. Galileo

followed the rule until 1632 when he published the "Dialogue

Concerning the Two Chief World Systems." This article told

Galileo's views of why the Copernican system was better

than the Ptolemaic system. Galileo was summoned to Rome

again and given life imprisonment under house arrest for

disobeying orders. The charge given to Galileo was very

unfair considering that he was right. In 1979, Pope John Paul

II wanted the Catholic Church to reverse the condemnation

of Galileo. In 1992, the Catholic Church admitted to their

error in condemning Galileo to house arrest. Galileo did not

give up his work because he was under house arrest. He

spent much of his time writing publications of his early work.

He had to sneak his publications to Holland to be printed,

though, because they were forbidden to be printed in Italy.

He wrote of Isochronism, the parabola path projectiles take,

the "law of fall", and much more. In 1637, Galileo went

blind, but he found assistants to write for him. "Discourses

upon Two New Scientists" was one of the most known

articles that Galileo wrote during this time. Galileo also

worked on clock that used a pendulum to run during this

time. Galileo died in early January of 1642. As you see,

Galileo is much more than just a man who used a

astronomical telescope. Galileo made many important

discoveries for the field of Physics; he opened the way for

scientists to combined Mathematic and Physics. He also

proved that the sun was the center of the galaxy. Galileo

deserved to be called the founder of modern experimental

science. Bibliography Dunn, Travis. Galileo Biography.

Http:/es.rice.edu/ES/ humsoc/Galileo/index.html. 23 January

1996. Field, J.V. Galileo Galilei.


August 1995. "Galileo Got it Wrong." New Scientist. 4 June

1987, p. 36. MacKeith, Bill. "Galileo Galilei." The Classical

Scientists. Southside Ltd. Edinburgh, England. 1989. vol.

15, pp. 25-44. O'Malley, Charles D. "Galileo." The New

Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Inc.

Chicago, Illinois. 1989. vol. 19, pp. 640-642. Stillman,

Drake. The Life of Galileo Galilei. http://www.

owlnet.rice.edu/-jessdave/Galileo2.html. 1980. Stillman,

Drake. "Galileo." Microsoft Encarta. Copyright 1994

Microsoft Corp. Copyright 1994 Funk & Wagnalls Corp.

Stillman, Drake. "Galileo." The World Book Encyclopedia.

World Book Inc. London, England. 1995. vol. 8, pp.


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