Galileo Galilei Galileo was probably the greatest astronomer, mathematician and scientist of his time. In fact his work has been very important in many scientific advances even to this day. Galileo was born in Pisa, Italy on February 15th, 1564. His father, Vincenzo was a music teacher and musician.

After his family moved to Florence, Galilei was sent to a monastery to be educated. He was so happy there that he decided to become a monk, but his father wanted him to be a medical doctor and brought him home to Florence. He was never really interested in medicine and studied mathematics at the University of Pisa. He was especially interested in famous mathematicians like Euclid (geometry) and Archimedes. In fact in 1586 he wrote his first book about one of Archimedes theories. He eventually became head of mathematics at the University of Pisa where he first wrote about a very important idea that he developed.

It was about using experiments to test theories. He wrote about falling bodies in motion using inclined planes to test his theories. Bader 2. When his father died in 1591 Galileo had to support his family. He looked for a job that paid more, and became professor of mathematics at the University of Padua where he stayed for eighteen years. He became very interested in astronomy at that time partly because of the discovery of a new star in 1604.

(This turned out to be an exploding sun called a supernova). During these years he did more work on his theories of falling bodies, inclined planes and how projectiles travel. This work is still used today, for example in ballistics where computers can predict the path of a shell based on Galileo’s work. In 1609 the telescope was invented and Galileo began making his own lenses for better telescopes and then started looking at the sky. In December and January (1609-1610) it is said that he made more discoveries that changed the world that anyone has made before or since. He wrote a book called the “Starry Messenger”, and said that there were mountains on the moon, the Milky Way was made up of many stars, and there were small bodies in orbit around Jupiter.

He used his mathematical skills to calculate the motions of these bodies around Jupiter. In 1610 he started looking at Saturn and discovered the rings, and the phases of Saturn (just like our moon’s phases). He helped settle an argument at that time about whether everything goes around the sun (Copernicus Theory), or the Tycho Brahe theory where the Sun goes around the Earth. Bader 3 After this he discovered sunspots in 1612, and talked about his theory of comets that was one of the few times he was wrong. He said that comets were close to Earth all the time. It is hard for us to understand, but at that time the Catholic Church told everybody what kind of scientific theories to believe in.

They were concerned that any theories did not agree with things that were written in the Holy Scriptures. The church did not believe in Copernicus and did not allow Galileo to talk about or publish his astronomical theories about the sun being the center of our solar system. That was a very difficult time for science. The Church was in the middle of the Inquisition that condemned many scientists and their work, and even put many people to death. Galileo published a famous book about his theories, and was put on trial by the Inquisition.

He was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment in his home. His next famous book about mathematical ideas of bodies in motion, center of gravity and pendulums was smuggled out of Italy and published in Holland. In 1640 he designed the first pendulum clock using his theories. It was very sad that he died soon after that in 1642. He was such a great scientist and observer, and sadly died as a condemned man in the eyes of the Church that was so powerful at that time. He could not be Bader 4. buried with his family because of the Church’s opposition and so his body was concealed.

It was not until 1737 that his body was placed in a tomb, and even then the Church opposed this. In October 1992 Pope John Paul II admitted that there were errors made by the Church in Galileo’s case, but even then did not admit that the Church was wrong.